A year later, Iraq issues arrest warrant for Trump over killing of Iran general

Symbolic move, relating to 2020 drone strike targeting Qassem Soleimani and militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, alleges premeditated murder, which carries death penalty

Popular Mobilization Forces and their supporters light candles at Baghdad's international airport on the first anniversary of the killing of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of the PMF and Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran's Quds forces, on January 2, 2021. (Khalid Mohammed/AP)

BAGHDAD, Iraq — An arrest warrant was issued Thursday for outgoing US 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 Qassem 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.

Soleimani headed the expeditionary Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, designated a terror group by the US.

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.

A burning vehicle at the Baghdad International Airport following a deadly airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq, January 3, 2020. (Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office via AP)

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 US-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.

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