The Trump Administration May Have Blamed Iran for an ISIS Attack

Originally appeared at The American Conservative.

Iraqi military and intelligence officials claim that the original December 27 attack that led to U.S. strikes on an Iraqi militia and Qassem Soleimani was probably not carried out by Kata’ib Hezbollah at all, but was instead the work of ISIS:

American officials insist that they have solid evidence that Khataib Hezbollah carried out the attack, though they have not made it public.

Iraqi officials say their doubts are based on circumstantial evidence and long experience in the area where the attack took place.

The rockets were launched from a Sunni Muslim part of Kirkuk Province notorious for attacks by the Islamic State, a Sunni terrorist group, which would have made the area hostile territory for a Shiite militia like Khataib Hezbollah.

Khataib Hezbollah has not had a presence in Kirkuk Province since 2014 [bold mine-DL].

The Islamic State, however, had carried out three attacks relatively close to the base in the 10 days before the attack on K-1. Iraqi intelligence officials sent reports to the Americans in November and December warning that ISIS intended to target K-1, an Iraqi air base in Kirkuk Province that is also used by American forces.

And the abandoned Kia pickup was found was less than 1,000 feet from the site of an ISIS execution in September of five Shiite buffalo herders.

These facts all point to the Islamic State, Iraqi officials say [bold mine-DL].

“All the indications are that it was Daesh,” said Brig. General Ahmed Adnan, the Iraqi chief of intelligence for the federal police at K-1, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. “I told you about the three incidents in the days just before in the area – we know Daesh’s movements.

If the Iraqi claims are true, the Trump administration’s actions in Iraq in late December and early January are even harder to justify. If ISIS was responsible for the attack that killed an American contractor, the administration not only retaliated against the wrong group with its first round of airstrikes, but it then proceeded to commit an act of war against Iran by killing one of ISIS’ main adversaries as a result of an ISIS attack. That strongly suggests that the administration was looking for an excuse to escalate against Iran and the Iraqi militias that it supports, and it seized on the base attack as their chance to take military action. Attributing the attack to ISIS would not fit with the administration’s fixation on Iran, and it would not give them the pretext they needed for escalation. Blaming it on an Iraqi militia that received Iranian support would be only too convenient. If that is what happened, the administration has misled the public about everything leading up to the Soleimani assassination, and they did ISIS’ work for them by killing one of the group’s most effective foes. This makes the administration’s talk of “restoring deterrence” even more absurd, since they were probably not even attacking the people responsible for the death of the contractor.

It is possible that the Iraqi officials are mistaken, or they may be coming up with this story for their own reasons, but these allegations are serious enough that they need to be investigated thoroughly. Congress needs to demand to see the “solid evidence” that links the original attack to Kata’ib Hezbollah, and top administration officials need to be called to testify about what they know. Journalists need to challenge the president and the Secretaries of State and Defense on this issue until they get some credible answers. The Trump administration has lied too many times and too egregiously about Iran and other national security issues to be taken at their word.

If the administration has evidence, they need to make it available to the appropriate committees in Congress. We already have good reason to believe that their claim about an “imminent attack” was a lie that they cooked up to justify Soleimani’s illegal assassination after the fact. It is not that much of a stretch to imagine that the administration distorted and manipulated intelligence to blame the wrong group for the K-1 base attack. Given the suspicions that the president ordered these attacks in late December and early January in an attempt to distract from his domestic political problems, this warrants much more attention and scrutiny from Congress and the press.

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and is a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter. This article is reprinted from The American Conservative with permission.

53 thoughts on “The Trump Administration May Have Blamed Iran for an ISIS Attack”

    1. Yes, let’s not get bogged down. Move on . Haven’t we moved on from Iraq war to Syrian and Iran wars? Details are for the coward ,terrorist sympathizers for ant American. Those demanding it are undermining our freedom ,freedom, freedom .Lets freedom ring .

    1. I expect our leaders really are this stupid.

      Dubya didn’t know what the heck he was doing. Obama just let whatever happen. Trump gets tricked regularly, then tries to lie his way out.

      Of the people, by the people. Average is as average does. Democracy!

      1. Actually the neocons have been running a different war than you and I are . They have been trying to set a world government without telling us about it . Our leaders are not that stupid but they think most of us are .

        1. Obama’s TPP is an example of globalism. US foreign policy is an example of incompetence and failure.

          I’m against universal healthcare, because I’m a true believer in US government incompetence. I’d rather have universal basic income, with which people could use to just buy their own healthcare.

          1. Yea. I don’t want money, but I think that’s better than promising free everything. It’s akin to collecting a dividend.

            Common Marx saying: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” It’s better that people deal with costs themselves, to minimize costs and take care of themselves. Marx, then, is incorrect.

            Sanders is a serious challenge to Trump. Clearly many Americans are true believers in free stuff ideology. If we centralize everything in the hands of the government and in large corporations, then we’re put at their mercy.

            If instead you pay people directly, then individuals are empowered.

            I’ve never seen the job market look this strong, but clearly many want free stuff. If none could vote, then I’d want the government to cut spending by 95% and stay out of… most everything. I do want significantly more regulation than the libertarians want here, but I don’t, myself, want free stuff. Since everyone can vote, however, ubi > socialism.

            Also, ubi has certain advantages. It would likely make mass immigration too expensive, for example.

          2. ok i didn’t think that you wanted free stuff. but i do think that there will never be a real solution to anything as long as the “business as usual, giant deductible” gang is allowed to paint every other alternative as some kind of “communist socialist anti-american” something or other.

          3. It’s tough to argue against “socialism” with so much wasted spending going on. I want to cut military spending also. I don’t think it’s “unAmerican” to give Americans free healthcare; I just don’t want it.

          4. The only reason I’am for medicare for all is because I think we have over priced monopoly health care . The government is the only force strong enough to confront our health care and education system .That has to use foreign languages and latin to jack up costs . We also have over priced education too That is selling licenses to do various jobs hey claim this is to protect us but I believe it is more to rob us .The government is the power that handed out these monopolies and they are the only power that could take them away too .

          5. Education and health costs seem overpriced because of government involvement.

            Edx and coursera look cheap and could grow. There are other online options, but I don’t follow it. There are online universities that cost less than $1k per course. And the government loans the money.

            Diploma mills are a concern, but employers can judge what’s learned. Testing is the only thing that I believe requires supervision, to ensure something has been learned.

            Passing the bar used to be all that was required to practice law. Experience and passing a test might be all that is needed for some professions. Doctors, of course, require training.

            Introducing competition would help. Hospitals make very little profit, but drug companies and medical supply companies seem to make a great deal.

          6. I don’t think hospitals or schools are trying to make money . I think their goal is more to get a bigger piece of the pie

          7. Right now, if you take only 6 hrs in a semester, you can apply for a tax credit, at least for 4 years. It’s a big credit, up to 2500 or 1k if no tax. A person can work and attend a university part time fairly easily now.

          8. I guess we are thinking along the same lines . We need more technology in health care and education .To cut the costs down . I heard of a guy with a broken leg that just got a bill for 180,000 dollars . That bill just made this guy a slave for the rest of his life . I saw a lady hit by a car when the ambulance arrived she refused to be taken . She found two young black boys that she knew and asked them to please take her home . She was more afraid the hospital would take her house .

          9. That’s an insane bill. I doubt 180K made the guy a slave, but that’s quite a burden. He could declare bankruptcy and get out of it at the cost of his credit.

            Insurance usually prevents huge bills like that, but insurance is expensive. I suspect many abuse insurance. I sometimes hear of people going to the hospital for what seems to me an overreaction. Their insurance will just pay most of the bill.

            I certainly don’t want healthcare to cost that much. I talked with a former CFO of a hospital system who seemed to know what reforms would reduce costs, but I couldn’t follow what he said and don’t remember what I did follow. The problem was I didn’t fully hear him.

            Tort reform seems necessary. Doctors should be liable, but currently juries don’t seem to follow medical cases well. They lack the knowledge to follow the cases.

          10. Our Military spending alone is approaching 2.3 trillion A 1000 a month for everyone over 18 would be 2’7 trillion dollars.per year .

          11. What does military spending have to do with “self-defense?” The US military doesn’t defend the people who pay for it. When it’s defending anything at all (as opposed to engaging in offensive plunder and rapine), it’s defending their enemy, the state.

            An actual defensive military would be mostly volunteer militia. It MIGHT cost a tenth as much, but that’s a very high-end estimate.

          12. They don’t promise free every thing still the best things in life are free . But you have to take what they want to give you . You don’t get to choose . So you do not get freedom .

          13. What do think most of the money the government spends if it is not money for nothing . Think of the big banks being bailed out and their ceo’s million dollar bonuses that was money for nothing . Same goes for auto companies bail out for Union workers that sank their own employers . The Workers saved their pensions while the stock holders got zero and had to keep working their none union jobs . Social security and medi care are about the best social programs we have . Trouble is they re operated the government that always runs ponzi schemes .

  1. Iraq could have photographed ISIS doing the dirty deed and we’d still insist it was Iran. And if we finally did admit that it was indeed ISIS we’d still say it was justified regardless because the general was a “terrorist”. So no need to waste any time investigating.

    1. That’s what Bush said about 9/11, it was obviously Osama bin Laden and 19 boxcutter-wielding A-rabs who did it. No need for an actual evidence-based investigation. Off to war we go.

      1. Similar to hearing Steve Scalise say the Iranian general that we murdered was a bigger terrorist than bin Laden. Sadly people will eat that sh*t up and indeed it is off to war.

        1. Trump is now fully owned by the Neocons — which is to say Israel — having been driven into their arms by the across-the-board opposition of all but the Deplorables. He won’t declare war on Iran before the election, but if reelected he will then almost certainly be maneuvered into it. The Swamp has “drained” Trump, with the help of the corporate Dems.

          This changes everything. (For me at least.)

          A complete withdrawal from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan accompanied by the firing of Pompeo et al, and a substantial contingent of neocons at state — like Lindman, and Ciaramella at the CIA — could turn things around and bring me back to supporting Trump, but that ain’t gonna happen, so the way forward is now up for grabs, and nothing about it is promising.

          If Bernie/Yang/Gabbard is the Dem ticket, I will vote for that, but even then the result will be further deterioration of the US situation. Just as the Dems, the never-Trumpers, and the various elements of the “Swamp” and “Establishment” blocked Trump’s attempt to solve the problem of a broken system in DC, the free-of-Trump-GOP and the establishment Dems will stymie anything President Bernie tries to accomplish, and the whole mess will just return to the status quo ante. Then we will simply be waiting for the next chance at the change we so desperately need, the next charismatic Trump-style “outsider” to take on the swamp.

          If we survive that long.

          1. I know I sound like a broken record but I couldn’t back anyone who advocates torture. Or someone that casually talks about killing people like he did about going after family members of terrorists or “bombing the sh*T” out of ISIS. If you’re going to bomb to that extent, you have to know you’re going to kill many innocent people. So I never understood the trust people put behind a man like Trump. Trump is more of a lateral move than a solution so if someone comes in with some real attempt at real change I think people will jump all over that. Happily, we shouldn’t have to choose between Trump and Biden.

          2. I was talking about what kind of man Trump is. And he’s killed plenty since being in office.

          3. People like my, and might I add, Justin too thought then, and in my case now too, that Trump was a safer bet to not end up in a disastrous war with Putin & Russia than the Clinton lady: Who had “Confront Putin” in her platform. No mention of, over what, we should confront him. My fear was and remains, that she wanted to show him she could be just as tough as him, and or ANY man. Such a confrontation I feared and fear could lead to large scale nuclear war. The outcome that is my top priority to NOT blunder into with bluster and ever growing confrotation & escellation.

            What say you? How did you perceive and weight her bellicose and pugnacious position with the man who has so many thermonuclear weapons, and the prover ability to deliver them?????

          4. I didn’t vote for Clinton. I thought she and Trump were, by far, the worst two candidates on my ballot. I don’t believe Clinton would have been allowed to do the things people feared she would have done. If the deep state didn’t allow Trump to be the peace president that so many supporters thought he would be, why would Clinton be able to start a nuclear war with Russia all by her lonesome? And what did people think would happen when trump dropped out of the JCPOA as promised? Didn’t anyone think we’d be at war with Iran as an eventuality? And I believe the war with Iran is something the deep state has been salivating over for years so Trump’s election scared me just as much as Clinton’s would have.

          5. the reality is that trump showed up out of nowhere with his “people power, down with the establishment, i am just like yalls are!” BS, in order to challenge hillary and her “i will bomb the shit out of everybody!” neocon BS. obviously any sane person would choose ‘mr. regular guy’ because he did promise to be a ‘regular guy’ – oops.
            i voted for 3rd party Gary Johnson because he really was a regular guy nobody.

          6. Neocons took out Yugoslavia , Iraq, Ukraine , Egypt , Ukraine and Libya . Trump must be a real disappointment to the neocons . Because Trump has not taken out 1 foreign leader in 4 years . That must be almost a record for losing .

          7. I see what you see . Regime change wars that Trump promised to stay out of is one promise Trump has not kept good enough to suit me . I also like Tulsi . She herself might be able to take on Trump But she will have a hard time pulling crazy Bernie along too

          8. Your last sentence could be the most important statement of all .If Russia and China have what kind of bomb delivery system hey say they have . There is no reason they should not use it now .and use it first . Why should they wait until the USA has the same outer space delivery system It looks to be certain that NATO wants to fight with Russia by where they are sending their forces .

      1. OOOOOOOOOOOO. Yes for SURE..!!!!! NATO has become a nation wrecking monster… CUT OFF IT’S MONEY!!!!! & thereby Save the world…

      2. I don’t know why you replied to my comment with that question but I have no use for NATO.

    2. And when the US openly allies with and supports al Qaeda, it’s inexplicably to prevent another 9/11. When the US attacks, overthrows, and removes enemies of al Qaeda, it’s also inexplicably to prevent another 9/11.

      I almost expect the US military to just start flying planes into NYC buildings, to prevent another 9/11 of course.

      And importing the same said people into Europe/US, again to “prevent…”

      1. You are right the United States has supported and supplied the wrong side more often than not . That’s why I want to bring the Troops home .

  2. If indeed it was ISIS that carried out the attack, it would make it a false-flag attack as ISIS is a totally a creation of CIA/Mossad, financed primarily by Saudi Arabia, just as al-CIAda was.

  3. I love these official stories. Highly entertaining.

    The unofficial story is that killing Soleimani had nothing to do with what happen on December 27.
    To quote Trump: “Iran never won a war, but never lost a negotiation!“

  4. I can’t think of any reason to try to change the regime of any foreign government unless you think a better foreign government will replace it .This did not happen in Iran Iraq, Libya , Egypt and very likely would not have happened in Syria either . Trump promised to stop trying to change foreign governments . This is a promise Trump has not kept .

  5. Trump claims to be promise keeper . I still think he is trying to change both the Venezuela and Syria presidents .

  6. “Congress needs to demand to see the “solid evidence” that links the
    original attack to Kata’ib Hezbollah, and top administration officials
    need to be called to testify about what they know. Journalists need to
    challenge the president and the Secretaries of State and Defense on this
    issue until they get some credible answers.”

    To quote Percival Rose on the Nikita TV show, “That ain’t gonna happen.”

    1. Sometimes it seems nothing good is ever ALLOWED to happen. & Our owners are quite busy keeping things that way using OUR money and in this case, our military too… Like Kissinger said, They are just dumb animals. And we must be too for letting this state of affairs to continue on & on, decade after decade, and war, after war. WE.. Yes us, Must be doing an aful lot very wrong for this evil and costly situation to continue. We are being played and robed. But the perps package it up so as to appear they are doing it for our best interests.. The emperor IS naked, and we are blinded by spin.

  7. Take note: By attacking Iraqi Shia militias and Soleimani the US has sent a message to the Sunnis — al Qaeda & ISIS & other disenfranchised Sunnis-in-revolt — that attacks on US forces can be used by the Sunnis to provoke the US to attack the Sunni’s adversaries … in the name of attacking Iran, of course. How dangerous is that?!!

    Between Israel, their neocon agents in the US — Kushner, Pompeo & the whole of the State Department, Wurmser, et al — and the rabidly insane anti-Iran psychopaths, and Trump now completely owned by the Neocons/Israel, the near certainty of yet another a false flag attempt to manipulate Trump into a war with Iran, we are at an immensely dangerous moment. The only thing working against this is Trump’s certainty that a war with Iran will end of any hope of his reelection. So flimsy a shield against catastrophe is truly scary. (But, I’ll take it.)

    It’s an odd situation. As Bernie closes in on the nomination, the Neocons will become more desperate. I predict that once Bernie is actually nominated, their panic will peak, and they will go full out to get their war before election day. They don’t like, trust, or respect Trump, but they are confident of their ability to manipulate him (possibly the Mossad has tapes of him boinking some fourteen-year-old on Epstein’s island). But Bernie … not so much. Being Jewish gives Bernie a special license to deal with Israel: to not suck up to them and to push back against neocon ownership of the State Department and AIPAC subversion of Congress. A Bernie presidency is a nightmare for Israel.

    Interesting times.

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