FPI / September 13, 2019
During his time as head of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), Jim Mattis had long warned of Iran’s threat to Mideast stability. It was these warnings that ultimately led to his being fired by then-President Barack Obama, who was more likely to placate than punish the Islamic Republic, Mattis says in his newly-released memoir “Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead”.
“From my first day at CENTCOM, I knew we faced two principal adversaries: stateless Sunni Islamist terrorists and the revolutionary Shi’ite regime of Iran, the most destabilizing country in the region,” Mattis writes. “Iran was by far the more deadly of the two threats.”
But, Mattis writes, Obama did not see it that way and showed the Marine general the door.
Mattis led CENTCOM from 2010 to 2013. He was the first Secretary of Defense in the Trump administration, serving from January 2017 until being fired by President Donald Trump in January 2019.
In his memoir, Mattis says the Obama White House didn’t even inform him when Iran committed an “act of war” on American soil.
The duty officer at his Tampa, Florida, headquarters on Oct. 11, 2011 told him that the attorney general and FBI director had held a press conference to announce the arrest of two Iranians who had planned a bomb attack on Cafe Milano, a high-end restaurant in Washington that was a favorite of the rich and famous, including Saudi Arabia’s ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir.
Mattis writes: “Attorney General Eric Holder said the bombing plot was ‘directed and approved by elements of the Iranian government and, specifically, senior members of the Qods Force.’ The Qods were the Special Operations Force of the Revolutionary Guards, reporting to the top of the Iranian government.”
Many pundits questioned the administration’s assessment that the Iranian government was involved in the plan. Despite Iran’s long history of overseas assassination plots, some observers were skeptical that the theocratic regime would attempt such an audacious attack.
Mattis is certain, however: “I saw the intelligence: we had recorded Teheran’s approval of the operation.”
“Had the bomb gone off, those in the restaurant and on the street would have been ripped apart, blood rushing down sewer drains. It would have been the worst attack on us since 9/11. I sensed that only Iran’s impression of America’s impotence could have led them to risk such an act within a couple of miles of the White House,” he writes.