President Trump has boasted how military officials counted down the seconds to the deadly drone strike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.
Speaking at a GOP fundraising dinner at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Friday evening, Trump recounted in great detail the moments leading up to the US attack, which triggered tensions between the two countries and led to retaliatory strikes from Iran.
US military officials counted down the seconds to the attack on the Iranian military commander, saying they have ‘one minute to live’, the president recalled the military officials acting out the attack saying.
”They’re together sir. Sir, they have two minutes and 11 seconds.’ No emotion. ‘2 minutes and 11 seconds to live, sir. They’re in the car, they’re in an armored vehicle. Sir, they have approximately one minute to live, sir. 30 seconds. 10, 9, 8 …’,’ Trump said in an audio obtained by CNN.
President Trump (pictured) has boasted about how military officials counted down the seconds to the deadly drone strike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, according to audio obtained by CNN
‘Then all of a sudden, boom,’ he went on.
”They’re gone, sir. Cutting off.’,’ Trump said the official added.
‘I said, where is this guy? That was the last I heard from him.’
Trump also gloated that Soleimani ‘was supposed to be invincible’.
In the address at his Mar-a-Lago estate, the president also appeared to contradict his previous reasons for taking out the Iranian general.
He said Soleimani was a ‘noted terrorist’ who ‘was down on our list’ and was ‘saying bad things about our country’.
‘How much of this shit do we have to listen to?’ Trump asked. ‘How much are we going to listen to?’
A burning vehicle at the Baghdad International Airport following the US drone strike in Baghdad, Iraq. US military officials counted down to the moment the Iranian military commander was taken out, saying they have ‘one minute to live’, the president recalled
‘Sir, they have approximately one minute to live, sir. 30 seconds. 10, 9, 8 … Then all of a sudden, boom. They’re gone, sir. Cutting off’: Trump retold the countdown to the strike
The hand and ring (pictured) of the Major General Haj Qassem Soleimani, who Trump described as a ‘noted terrorist’ who ‘was down on our list’ in the address on Friday
There was no mention of Soleimani posing an ‘imminent threat’ – the unsupported justification for the drone strike given in the immediate aftermath.
This latest discrepancy comes as Trump’s administration has shifted its position multiple times over the decision behind the attack.
Trump recently claimed Soleimani was planning to target four US embassies.
This was almost immediately rebuffed by Representative Justin Amash who said this ‘seems to be totally made up’.
In his address on Friday, the president also incorrectly said that Soleimani was meeting ‘the head of Hezbollah’, the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group.
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, also killed in the strike, was actually the head of different group Kata’ib Hezbollah.
Trump also boasted that the strike took out ‘two for the price of one’.
Previous claims that Soleimani posed an ‘imminent threat’ to the US were notably absent from the US president’s speech
Trump also incorrectly said that Soleimani (pictured) was meeting ‘the head of Hezbollah’, the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, also killed in the strike, was actually the head of different group Kata’ib Hezbollah
Trump’s retelling of the attack on Friday provided the most detailed account to date of the lead-up to the strike.
Mounting tensions between the US and Iran reached a tipping point earlier this month, when Washington killed Soleimani on January 3.
Iran retaliated by launching ballistic missiles at US targets in Iraq on January 8, resulting in no US deaths.
Iran’s air defenses caused a catastrophe on their own soil during the strike, when a surface-to-air missile battery shot down a civilian passenger airliner mostly full of Iranian citizens.
It took days for Iran to its mistake, leading to intense backlash and protests from Iranians furious at their government for initially claiming that an engine malfunction had brought down the jet.
The president’s Mar-a-Lago South Florida estate where he held the GOP fundraising dinner on Friday evening and recounted in great detail the moments leading up to the US attack
At the Mar-a-Lago event on Friday, Trump also recounted the Baghdad raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
‘He was screaming, going crazy,’ Trump said.
He then joked that the dog Conan that assisted in the raid ‘got more credit than I did’.
Trump’s latest comments came as he entered into a Twitter spat with the Ayatollah of Iran on Friday, blasting the country’s ‘supreme leader’ in both English and Persian.
‘The noble people of Iran—who love America—deserve a government that’s more interested in helping them achieve their dreams than killing them for demanding respect,’ Trump tweeted.
‘Instead of leading Iran toward ruin, its leaders should abandon terror and Make Iran Great Again!’ he continued in a pair of tweets written in English and Persian.
Trump’s remarks were in direct response to a tweet in English from Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, which blasted the ‘villainous’ US government.
President Donald Trump also engaged in a Twitter feud with the Ayatollah of Iran, blasting the country’s ‘supreme leader’ in both English and Persian
Ayatollah Khamenei led Friday prayers in Tehran on Friday for the first time in eight years
Trump repeated the same tweet in Persian in a direct appeal to the Iranian people
After Trump tweeted in Persian and English supporting the protesters, Khamenei launched a tweetstorm of his own, furiously blasting the American president.
‘The villainous US govt repeatedly says that they are standing by the Iranian ppl. They lie,’ wrote Khamenei.
‘If you are standing by the Iranian ppl, it is only to stab them in the heart with your venomous daggers. Of course, you have so far failed to do so, & you will certainly continue to fail,’ he said.
Kahmenei’s furious tweet storm also took aim at U.S. allies France and Germany, as well as the ‘vicious’ UK government.
‘The threat of the French & German govts & the vicious British govt to send Iran’s case to the Security Council proved once again that they are the footmen of the US,’ he wrote.
Trump responded: ‘The so-called ‘Supreme Leader’ of Iran, who has not been so Supreme lately, had some nasty things to say about the United States and Europe. Their economy is crashing, and their people are suffering. He should be very careful with his words!’
On Friday, Khamenei threw his support behind Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards in a rare sermon, after their belated admission that they had accidentally downed an airliner triggered days of street protests.
In his first Friday prayers sermon for eight years, Khamenei also told worshippers chanting ‘Death to America’ that the elite Guards could take their fight beyond Iran’s borders after the U.S. killing of a top Iranian commander.
Khamenei’s address came amid a deepening crisis for Iran as it grapples with unrest at home and rising pressure from abroad.