/Pence says Irans Qasem Soleimani aided 9/11 hijackers. Experts say thats not true

Pence says Irans Qasem Soleimani aided 9/11 hijackers. Experts say thats not true

In a Friday Twitter post, Vice President Mike Pence claimed top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani assisted the 9/11 hijackers in traveling to Afghanistan. 

In a thread laying out Soleimani’s “worst atrocities,” Pence included how Soleimani “assisted in the clandestine travel to Afghanistan of 10 of the 12 terrorists who carried out the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.”

Links between Soleimani and the 9/11 attacks have not been proven, as experts noted. 

Daniel Byman, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and a staff member on the 9/11 Commission, told USA TODAY, “To my knowledge, there’s no evidence Soleimani was directly running the 9/11 operatives that were transiting Iran.”

Although there were links between Al Qaeda and Iran, it was “not true” that Iran was behind the 9/11 attacks, Byman said. 

As the bipartisan report from the 9/11 Commission concluded, “We have found no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9/11 attack.”

The tweet drew condemnation from experts, journalists and former government officials, who pushed back on the statement.

More:Qasem Soleimani: The Pentagon had tracked Iranian general for years before he was killed

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Pence’s critics were also quick to note how there were 19 hijackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks, not 12. 

Pence’s press secretary Katie Waldman stood by the assertion, saying “12 of the 19 transited through Afghanistan. 10 of those 12 were assisted by Soleimani.”

Soleimani, The New York Times reported, was not mentioned in the 9/11 Commission’s report.

Soleimani was killed in an airstrike on his convoy ordered by President Donald Trump on Thursday. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the attack had been ordered to avert an “imminent threat.” About 3,000 more soldiers are to be deployed to Kuwait to reinforce existing forces. 

Iran has threatened “harsh retaliation” and “military action” against those responsible for Soleimani’s killing.