Iranian aggressors still target American troops in Iraq

Iranian aggressors still target American troops in Iraq
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On October 1 of this year, Army Specialist Alexander Missildine was killed by a highly lethal roadside bomb known as an explosively formed penetrator (EFP) in the Ninawa Province of Iraq. EFPs are the signature weapon of two Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)-led militias in Iraq and the reappearance of this weapon after six years demonstrates that the Islamic Republic of Iran continues its campaign to kill American service members.  

EFPs took the lives of many brave Americans deployed in Iraq, and wounded countless others, many of whom now live with their injuries at home, but are forever affected.

While we can’t change the lives lost and injuries sustained from EFPs, we can work to ensure that the regime in Tehran cannot take the lives of any more Americans with this lethal weapon and are held responsible for their actions. This Veterans Day, I call upon Congress to consider the memory of Army Specialist Missildine, and the other American service members who have lost their lives or have been severely injured because of EFPs, when developing a legislative strategy to counter Iran’s non-nuclear aggression in the region.  

Going further, American businesses must never lose sight of the lives of our heroes lost at the hands of weapons deployed by groups tied to the IRGC and Tehran — doing business with the Iranian regime only enables the slaughtering of our men and women in uniform.

I served in the U.S. Army for more than two decades and during my time as an intelligence officer, I gained first-hand experience on how to address security and terrorism issues.  I advised U.S. commanders on countering IRGC influence in Iraq’s Security and Intelligence apparatus and Iran’s destructive militias in Iraq. I witnessed Iran’s terror firsthand, from testing ballistic missiles to illegally detaining U.S. soldiers, to funding terrorist organizations like Asaib ahl al-Haq & Hezbollah and planting the aforementioned EFPs, which took the lives of so many service members. The IRGC had tremendous control over the Middle East when I was there, and unfortunately, its influence in the region has only increased.

Fortunately, President Donald TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE recently announced new sanctions to be enforced against the IRGC, which has vast influence over Iran’s economy and which is largely responsible for “Iran becoming the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror,” as confirmed by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin.  

Moreover, the U.S. Senate is considering four bills recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that aim to curb Iran’s ballistic missile program and its support of Hezbollah.  Both of these efforts are meant to protect our financial system from Iran’s pipeline of terror.

Such action is badly needed given that Iran has been responsible for the deaths of more than 1,000 American soldiers over the years. In August, Brigadier General Esmail Quaani, deputy commander of Iran’s Quds Force, boasted to Iranians about the number of Americans the IRGC has murdered saying, “Americans have suffered more losses from us then we have suffered losses from them.”

Iran has also continued to praise the role of the IRGC in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, the deadliest attack on the U.S. Marines since World War II.  In 2016, Hossein Salami, deputy commander in chief of the IRGC stated, “In 1983, the flames of Islamic revolution flared among Lebanese youth for the first time, and in a courageous act, a young Muslim buried 260 United States Marines under the rebels east of Mediterranean Sea.”   

Despite the clear contempt Iran has shown for America, companies seemingly disregard this fact and continue to attempt to do business with Iran.  Data suggests that at least 18 American companies, such as Time Warner, Citigroup and Mastercard, have recently lobbied Congress to ease current restrictions on doing business with the regime in Tehran. Last year, Mastercard’s CEO Ajay Banga even said, “There has to be a whole change in the sanctions regime that allows companies like us … to operate freely in Iran.”

I cannot begin to comprehend why such companies are willing to overlook the murderous record of Iran and the IRGC.  In 2015, Ali Shirazi, the Supreme Leader’s Representative to the Quds Force said, “We will stand fast against the world of arrogance.  We will not rest until we have raised the banner of Islam over the White House.”  Former IRGC Basij Commander Reza Naqdi expressed a similar sentiment later that same year.

As the day when we honor the sacrifices of those who served our nation in uniform draws near, the best way to thank veterans is to show them that we are making conscious efforts to protect soldiers from the threat of the Iranian regime. We must remind American corporations that doing business with Iran is an affront to those who risk their own lives oftentimes in distant places in an effort to defend our way of life here in the States.

Michael Pregent was an embedded adviser to the Peshmerga in Mosul and an intelligence and policy adviser to Generals Petraeus and Odierno on Iranian activities in Iraq. He served 20 years as an intelligence officer in the Army and seven years with the Defense Intelligence Agency as an Iraq expert. He is a founder of United Against Nuclear Iran’s veterans advisory council.