Ex-CIA Chief Says US-Assassinated Iranian General Soleimani Was His Personal ‘Nemesis’

by Aleksandra Serebriakova
Dec. 7, 2020

Former Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan, who will be remembered by many as a defender of the use of “enhanced interrogation” practices on al-Qaida* suspects, has recently grabbed worldwide attention after slamming the November killing of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh as “a criminal act.”

The ex-CIA director under the Barack Obama administration, John Brennan, said during the interview with Israel’s Haaretz that late Iranian Top General Qasem Soleimani was his personal “nemesis” during his work for the agency.

Brennan, however, slammed the assassination of the senior general, who was murdered in a Trump-authorised drone strike in Iraq in January this year. According to the former Obama staffer, the killing of “a senior Iranian government official” was a “very arbitrary and dangerous” act which came “without any type of international, lawful basis, without being at war with Iran and without a Security Council decision.”

“I’ve said, and I was criticised for it, that I was not supportive at all of the US strike against Soleimani. I do not disagree that Soleimani had blood on his hands: He was responsible for supporting terrorist groups, as well as for actions they carried out,” Brennan explained

“He was a very dangerous actor, but again, for the United States to kill a senior official of a foreign country is not in keeping with its commitments to the international system.”

Former CIA chief has expressed remorse for the fact that Soleimani’s assassination was applauded in the United States “on both sides of the political aisle”, ignoring the fact that Trump administration had basically violated the international standards and norms with the move.

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Speaking to the newspaper via Skype, Brennan argued that he “wouldn’t be surprised” to find out that Israel “encouraged or even provided some support for the operation.”

Killing of Iran’s Nuclear Scientist Fakhrizadeh

Brennan’s interview was conducted shortly before another high-profile assassination of an Iranian senior official, nuclear physicist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, near Tehran late last month.

On 27 November, Fakhrizadeh, who was dubbed by Israel as “head of Iran’s nuclear weapons programme”, was fatally wounded in a gun and bomb attack in a road ambush near Absard town and later died in hospital. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Iranian leadership has wholeheartedly blamed the scientist’s death on Israel.

Shortly after the assault, John Brennan took to Twitter to criticize the killing as a “criminal” and “highly reckless” act that would endanger the region’s stability.

“Iranian leaders would be wise to wait for the return of responsible American leadership on the global stage & to resist the urge to respond against perceived culprits,” he wrote on 27 November.

His comments prompted a strong response from Republican Senator for Texas, Ted Cruz, who accused the Obama-era official of siding with “Iranian zealots”. Brennan replied by suggesting instead that Cruz’s approach to the national security matters was “lawless” and “simple-minded”.

Is Netanyahu a ‘Liar’?

In his conversation with Haaretz, Brennon referred to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “not a very principled or ethical individual” when asked to clarify whether he believed that the politician was a “liar”, as reportedly once described by Obama and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

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“He is a very cagey and wily political operative and politician,” Brennan argued. “He has, I think, a very, very astute understanding and manipulation of Israeli, domestic politics.”

“Did he lie to me personally? He just, I think, embellished the facts,” the ex-CIA head said, noting that honesty and keeping “his word” were not among Netanyahu’s “strong suits.”

“I found that his depiction of reality distorted the truth, but in that regard he’s very typical of a politician,” the ex-intelligence officer added. “He is, as I said, a strong political operative who will change his views, his position, and not follow through on his commitments if he feels it’s in his best political interest not to.”

Discussing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Brennan noted that the “two-state solution”, a type of settlement that would see independent state of Israel existing alongside the State of Palestine, does not seem “viable” to him in the longer term based on the current approach of the Israeli government.

However, he said, if Netanyahu thought “a two-state solution would benefit his political interests, he probably would pursue it.”

Was Israel Involved in Osama Bin Laden’s Killing?

Asked about whether the assassination of al-Qaeda’s founder Osama Bin Laden in 2011 by Obama-ordered operation was assisted by Israel, Brennan said that it was American act, although not one without vital information from Tel Aviv.

“… the intelligence that went into the ultimate successful raid against that compound in Pakistan was the result of many, many years,” Brennan said. “And the thousands of bits of pieces of intelligence do include some which were provided by the Israelis as a result of their intelligence operations.”

“So it was a great big puzzle that was put together, and, you know, Israel has always been one of the main providers of those puzzle pieces to US intelligence,” he concluded.

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Brennan’s Legacy

The interview came in the light of recent publication of Brennan’s memoir “Undaunted: My Fight Against America’s Enemies, At Home and Abroad”, which has covered 40 years of his work for the United States at a variety of posts, including CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia, chief of staff of CIA Director George Tenet, director of the national anti-terror center and homeland security adviser to ex-President Obama. In 2013, Brennan was appointed by Obama as CIA director.

During his work, the intelligence officer faced some scrutiny for earlier defending the CIA’s practice of torturing Al-Qaida terrorist suspects, described by the agency as “enhanced interrogation techniques”. In the book, which was published in October of this year, Brennan said that he regrets his decision not to oppose the controversial methods and not to caution his then-boss George Tenet about the grave consequences his decision to allow the practices would have.

Published at sputniknews.com