(WRBL) — Many people heard the name Qasem Soleimani for the first time last week when the Iranian general was killed by U.S. forces.
Soldiers who have come through Fort Benning have known Soleimani’s name for nearly two decades.
And they have known of his evil deeds in the Middle East.
Soleimani was the man behind a more deadly Improvised Explosive Devices that ran up the American casualty count beginning in 2003.
There are 6,989 names on the wall of the Global War on Terror Memorial at the National Infantry Museum. Soleimani’s work is responsible for more than 600 of those deaths, according to a 2018 U.S. Department of Defense study.
Another 1,600 soldiers who were maimed or injured from the devices.
Peter L. Jones was there in 2003-04. Back again in 2007-08. And in 2009-10, he was a brigade commander in the Third Infantry Division.
When asked if Soleimani was a bad guy, Jones didn’t pause.
“Well, yes. You can’t say that he did not have American blood on his hands,” Jones said. “And his goal was to keep American influence out of the Middle East and make sure those countries turned toward Tehran versus Washington.”
The Global War on Terror Memorial is the only place in the nation where the names of all of the men and women who died since 9-11 can be found in one place.
Soleimani was a high-value target, Jones said.
“When you understand who’s responsible for that threat to your soldiers, you have mixed emotions. But he was a legitimate target,” Jones said. “The head of a terrorist organization, that was going to continue to spread malign influence throughout the region and was going to continue to be a threat.”
See the full interview with retired Brigadier General Peter L. Jones: