Local professor: Iranian leader’s followers may see him as martyr after attack

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"His lieutenants -- it's unclear what actions they might take, or his followers," said Grove City College professor Michael Coulter

Iran Gen. Qassem Soleimani

FILE – In this Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, file photo, Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Quds Force, attends an annual rally commemorating the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution, in Tehran, Iran. Iraqi TV and three Iraqi officials said Friday, Jan. 3, 2020, that Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, has been killed in an airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

GROVE CITY, Pa. (WKBN) – The U.S. is sending thousands of troops to the Middle East after its targeted killing of a powerful Iranian general. The strike marks a new escalation in Washington’s conflict with Tehran.

This attack could have implications for months or even years. There is now great concern for what’s next.

MORE: Iran vows “harsh” response to US killing of top general

“He was not to be in Iraq and…it’s possible that he was planning some operations against U.S. personnel, whether in the military or state department,” said Grove City College professor Michael Coulter. “We have a large presence still in Baghdad so that may have been what was happening here.”

Coulter feels it could actually strengthen the people who followed Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

“The actors beneath him — that is, so to speak, his lieutenants — it’s unclear what actions they might take,” he said. “Or his followers or people who might see him as a martyr for the cause of some sort of pan Islamic State in the region, or actions taken against Americans or American interests.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spent part of his day reaching out to world leaders after the attack. He made it clear that the U.S. remains committed to de-escalation.

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