“There may well have been an ongoing plot as Pompeo claims, but Soleimani was a decision-maker, not an operational asset himself,” said Jon Bateman, who served as a senior intelligence analyst on Iran at the Defense Intelligence Agency. “Killing him would be neither necessary nor sufficient to disrupt the operational progression of an imminent plot. What it might do instead is shock Iran’s decision calculus” and deter future attack plans, Bateman said.
In a conference call with reporters, national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien said Friday evening that the strike on Soleimani happened after he recently visited Damascus and was plotting to target U.S. military and diplomatic personnel.
“This strike was aimed at disrupting ongoing attacks that were being planned by Soleimani and deterring future Iranian attacks through their proxies or through the . . . Quds Force directly against Americans,” O’Brien said.