Publisher's note: This informational nugget was sent to me by Ben Shapiro, who represents the Daily Wire, and since this is one of the most topical news events, it should be published on BCN.
The author of this post is Ryan Saavedra.
The U.S. State Department instructed U.S. citizens in Iraq to evacuate the country "immediately" as tensions in the region dramatically escalated on Thursday after U.S. forces killed two top military officials that were involved in terrorism.
The New York Times reported that an American MQ-9 Reaper drone fired missiles onto a convoy that was leaving Baghdad International Airport on Thursday, killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, and top Iraqi paramilitary commander Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, who headed the Iranian-linked Popular Mobilization Forces.
In the early morning hours on Friday, the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs tweeted: "#Iraq: Due to heightened tensions in Iraq and the region, we urge U.S. citizens to depart Iraq immediately. Due to Iranian-backed militia attacks at the U.S. Embassy compound, all consular operations are suspended. U.S. citizens should not approach the Embassy."
The State Department added: "#Iraq: U.S. citizens in Iraq or concerned about loved ones in Iraq can contact the Department of State at 202-501-4444 or toll-free in the U.S. at 888-407-4747. Avoid the U.S. Embassy in #Baghdad. Monitor local and international media for updates."
"United States officials were braced for potential Iranian retaliatory attacks, possibly including cyberattacks and terrorism, on American interests and allies,"
The New York Times added
. "Israel, too, was preparing for Iranian strikes. Some of the country's most popular tourist sites, including the ski resort at Hermon, were closed, and the armed forces went on alert, officials said."
One of the top concerns that officials have is that Iran could instruct its Hezbollah terrorist cells in the U.S. to carry out terrorist attacks in the U.S.
The Washington Free Beacon reported
in April 2018:
- Iranian-backed militants are operating across the United States mostly unfettered, raising concerns in Congress and among regional experts that these "sleeper cell" agents are poised to launch a large-scale attack on the American homeland, according to testimony before lawmakers.
- Iranian agents tied to the terror group Hezbollah have already been discovered in the United States plotting attacks, giving rise to fears that Tehran could order a strike inside America should tensions between the Trump administration and Islamic Republic reach a boiling point.
The Free Beacon reported
in August 2019 that the Trump administration had issued devastating new sanctions against Hezbollah that cut off a significant source of the terrorist organization's funding as it "continued to receive great amounts of funding from Iran and its allies in the Lebanese financial community."
Hezbollah rapidly expanded around the globe and drastically gained power during the Obama administration because former Democrat President Barack Obama killed a massive investigation into the terrorist organization.
Politico exclusively reported in December 2017:
- In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States, according to a POLITICO investigation.
- The campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 after the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities.
- Over the next eight years, agents working out of a top-secret DEA facility in Chantilly, Virginia, used wiretaps, undercover operations and informants to map Hezbollah's illicit networks, with the help of 30 U.S. and foreign security agencies.
- They followed cocaine shipments, some from Latin America to West Africa and on to Europe and the Middle East, and others through Venezuela and Mexico to the United States. They tracked the river of dirty cash as it was laundered by, among other tactics, buying American used cars and shipping them to Africa. And with the help of some key cooperating witnesses, the agents traced the conspiracy, they believed, to the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran.