As thousands gathered in Baghdad to mourn Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, a Reuters report revealed new details of the plan to kill Americans allegedly orchestrated by the man.
…the plan that prompted the U.S. air strike that killed him.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING:
"Imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act."
Two militia commanders and two security sources have told Reuters of a meeting in Baghdad in October between Soleimani and several Iraqi paramilitary leaders, all allied to Iran.
Among them was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis - also killed in Thursday's (January 2) strike.
At the time headlines were dominated by the massive anti-government protests in Iraq, in which hundreds died.
Protests sparked in part by outrage over Iran's influence in Iraqi politics and its security forces.
So, Soleimani instructed the militias -- all longtime enemies of the States -- to increase the number of attacks and frequency on U.S. targets.
The sources say the goal was to provoke a powerful military response that would redirect the protesters' anger against the Americans.
Iran has long denied involvement in attacks on U.S. target but, according to the sources, Muhandis's group was picked to lead the operation.
Some attacks had already begun.
A U.S. military source says forensic analysis of the attackers' advanced weapons then linked it back to Iran.