BAGHDAD (AP) — An arrest warrant was issued Thursday for outgoing President Donald Trump in connection with the killing of an Iranian general and a powerful Iraqi militia leader last year, Iraq’s judiciary said.
The warrant was issued by a judge in Baghdad’s investigative court tasked with probing the Washington-directed drone strike that killed Gen. Qassim Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the court’s media office said. They were killed outside the capital’s airport last January.
Al-Muhandis was the deputy leader of the state-sanctioned Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella group composed of an array of militias, including Iran-backed groups, formed to fight the Islamic State group.
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Soleimani headed the expeditionary Quds force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The arrest warrant was for a charge of premeditated murder, which carries the death penalty on conviction. It is unlikely to be carried out but symbolic in the waning days of Trump’s presidency.
The decision to issue the warrant “was made after the judge recorded the statements of the claimants from the family of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis,” according to a statement from the Supreme Judicial Council. The investigation into the killings is ongoing, the court said.
The killings sparked a diplomatic crisis and strained U.S.-Iraq ties, drawing the ire of Shiite political lawmakers who passed a non-binding resolution to pressure the government to oust foreign troops from the country.
Iran-backed groups have since stepped up attacks against the American presence in Iraq, leading to threats by Washington to shutter its Baghdad diplomatic mission.
Watch: Iran’s Zarif urges Trump to avoid Israel ‘trap’
Iran’s Zarif urges Trump to avoid Israel ‘trap’
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif urged U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday (January 2) not to be “trapped” by an alleged Israeli plan to provoke a war through attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq. In a tweet, he wrote: “New intelligence from Iraq indicates that Israeli agent-provocateurs are plotting attacks against Americans — putting an outgoing Trump in a bind with a fake casus belli”, adding that Trump should be, quote, “careful of a trap”. The warning was issued on the anniversary of the killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani by a U.S. drone strike in Iraq. There was no immediate comment by Israel. Washington blames Iran-backed militia for regular rocket attacks on U.S. facilities in Iraq. No known Iran-backed groups have claimed responsibility. The U.S. military flew two nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the Middle East in a message of deterrence to Iran on Wednesday (December 30), but they have since left the region. The commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps, General Hossein Salami, vowed to strike back in the case of any attack on Iran.