Iran Requests Interpol's Help to Arrest Trump Over Soleimani Killing

Iran has issued an arrest warrant for President Donald Trump and dozens of other U.S. officials, and requested Interpol assistance in detaining them over the assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani in an American drone strike earlier this year.

Soleimani was killed outside Baghdad International Airport alongside Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis on January 3. The killing came at a time of high tensions between the U.S. and Iran, almost dragging the two nations into open war.

On Monday, Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said Trump and 35 others now face "murder and terrorism charges," according to the Mehr news agency. Alqasimehr did not identify any of the other figures accused, but said Iran would continue to push for prosecution even if Trump is defeated in the November election.

Alqasimehr also said Iran was requesting an Interpol "red notice" for Trump and the others accused, the Associated Press reported. This would be the highest level notice that the international body can issue.

An Interpol spokesperson confirmed to Newsweek that "if or when any such requests were to be sent to the General Secretariat" the organization "would not consider requests of this nature."

The spokesperson cited the body's constitution which notes: "It is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character."

Any Interpol arrest warrant would be carried out by local law enforcement, which again makes any action on Iran's request unthinkable. Interpol notices cannot force any national force to arrest or extradite suspects. A red notice serves as an international wanted persons notice, rather than an international arrest warrant. Most red notices are not made public.

The Iranian Interpol request is thus a purely symbolic one, in keeping with Tehran's efforts to cast the Trump administration as criminal and incompetent.

U.S.-Iranian relations have frozen over since Trump came into office and withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, allowing the U.S. to reimpose broad sanctions on the already-struggling Iranian economy.

Iran has consistently called on other JCPOA signatories—China, Russia, France, Germany, the U.K. and the European Union—to save the deal and push back against Trump's maximum pressure campaign. Tehran has also urged Washington, D.C. to ease sanctions citing its battle with the coronavirus pandemic.

Soleimani was considered a national hero by many in Iran, though by others as a symbol of Tehran's imperial ambitions and bloody military interventions across the Middle East. His Quds Force trained, armed and directed proxy forces throughout the region and Soleimani was considered the mastermind of Iran's foreign policy.

The U.S. claimed it had evidence that Soleimani—who commanded the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' clandestine Quds Force and was considered one of the most powerful figures in the regime—was preparing imminent attacks against U.S. personnel and interests. The Trump administration has yet to produce any evidence supporting the assertion.

The U.S. chose not to respond to a retaliatory missile attack by Iran on U.S. troops in Iraq. More than 100 U.S. soldiers sustained injuries in the ballistic missile strikes on two Iraqi military bases.

Soon after, an Iranian an anti-aircraft unit accidentally shot down a passenger plane near Tehran killing all those aboard, having mistaken it for a U.S. military aircraft.

This article has been updated to include comment from Interpol.

Qassem Soleimani, Iran, Donald Trump, prosecutor, Interpol
A Iranian man carries a portrait of slain Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in Tehran, Iran on February 11, 2020. ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images/Getty