Local officials, Muslim-American community react to U.S. assassination of Iran top military official

Local officials, Muslim-American community react to U.S. assassination of Iran top military official

BOSTON — At least 3,000 troops are being deployed to the Middle East following the U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian Commander Qassem Soleimani.

In Massachusetts, local officials and the Muslim-American community, much like the rest of the country, have been reacting to the news.

At the Islamic Cultural Center of Medford, one spokeswoman told Boston 25 News the community, for the most part, fears what could happen next and say their strong faith is keeping them united and strong.

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Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton said Trump’s decision to assassinate one of Iran’s top military officials sounds like “we are starting a war.”

“I would say there is a lot of concern,” said Nichole Mossalam, of Medford.

Mossalam is a member of the Medford mosque and says she and her three young children have been following the news carefully about the death of Major General Soleimani, one of the most powerful men in Iran.

“There is no doubt that Soleimani was not a good human being,” said Mossalam. “There is the blood of many many lives, especially American lives on his hands. Many are worried that there is potential for retaliation. Have we taken steps to see our embassies in the region are secure? Are our military basis secure?"

“Qassem Soleimani is an evil man,” said Congressman Moulton. “He’s got American blood on his hands. I’m not sad to see him dead. It sounds like we are starting a war. Once again this administration has no plan, no strategy whatsoever. I’ve been calling for a strategy from the administration on Iran for years now. We can’t get any answers."

For Mossalam, she says she will take matters into her own hands when it comes to educating her children about what their community is currently dealing with.

“He was a foreign dignitary,” said Mossalam. “He was a member of a foreign government. We acted unilaterally to take him out. I’m having to explain to him, that someone was bombed last night. This means we could go to war. He’s 11 years old, he knows what that means."

Mossalam explains that the biggest concern for her family as well as for many Muslim-Americans is how this will affect their families’ visa statuses and if the Trump administration will make it harder for those fleeing the bloodshed in the Middle East to come to the U.S.

Retired major army ranger Bob Kinder has been in the trenches during some of the many high-stakes attacks in the Middle East and says that, in the short term, there will be some retaliation. Kinder, however, elaborates by saying this is a long-term game, and the attack was the right move for the U.S.

“I think he is emboldened because for 20 years the United States has passed on attacking him and for him to show up at the Baghdad International Airport right after following an attack against US Embassy and his protests, he clearly thinks he is beyond reproach,” said Kinder.

According to Kinder, two previous presidents passed on conducting the attack because they feared retaliation and says he’s not surprised by President Trump’s decision to act before more Americans died.

“He met his maker because fortunately we had credible intelligence that he was going to continue these attacks and escalate them,” said Kinder.

However, Kinder says Iran “will not sit idle to us killing Soleimani” adding that “they will take action."

“I would argue based on 20 years of war, most Americans are not even aware that we are at war in Afghanistan or Syria; they wake up and go about their business,” said Kinder. “An attack here on the homeland, although it may not be as devastating financially or militarily, for our psyche it would creat havoc. We should absolutely be concerned in the U.S. You see, [the] domestic issues we have [are] domestic terrorism, lone wolves, there are absolutely Iranian sources here in the United States. We know that. And it should be a concern of ours but fortunately, we have an incredible intelligence apparatus that is tracking these individuals."

Since the drone attack, the U.S. has told Americans to leave Iraq, where other world leaders are calling for de-escalation.