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Obama national security official: All Americans are ‘walking prime targets’ for Iran

Samantha Vinograd, a top national security official during the Obama administration, said Friday that “all American citizens are now walking prime targets” for retaliation following a U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

“I had a former State Department official text me a few hours ago saying, ‘I would not want to be in a secretary of State’s motorcade in any country going forward,’” Vinograd, a staunch critic of President Trump, told CNN’s “New Day.”

“In other words, that U.S. officials need to be concerned that they could be targeted,” she said, adding that service members and ordinary citizens are also at risk.

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“It’s not just service members,” said Vinograd, a national security analyst for CNN. “All American citizens are now walking prime targets for Iranian retaliation.”

Soleimani was killed in a strike at Baghdad International Airport alongside Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of the Iranian-backed Iraqi militia Popular Mobilization Forces, Iraqi state TV first reported Thursday.

Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, was considered one of Iran’s most powerful generals. The Pentagon said the decision to order the strike that killed him at Baghdad International Airport was a “defensive action.”

“At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world.”

Vinograd said U.S. citizens all around the world should be on alert.

“[The Quds Force] has demonstrated its willingness and intent to strike American citizens, to strike American diplomats who are afforded protections under international law. So in addition to the force protection measures needed for American service members, I am equally as focused on the American diplomatic corps, as well as all of the contractors that work for the U.S. government, and other American citizens not just in the Middle East but around the world,” she said.

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