"Qassem Soleimani would have killed even more if Trump hadn't killed him"

3 January 2020, 12:00 | Updated: 3 January 2020, 12:10

Middle East journalist told James O'Brien that while "we don't know how Iran will respond", had Trump not killed Qassem Soleimani, the commander "would've killed many more hundreds of thousands of people."

Iran's Quds Force commander General Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US airstrike leading to the US embassy in Baghdad urging Americans to leave Iraq.

Journalist Oz Katerji could not predict what might happen next, "No experts that I know saw this coming. No one saw it coming.

"This butcher had a God-like aura about him, you don't expect God to die."

Mr Katerji explained that Soleimani was in charge of every Iranian terrorist proxy group across the Middle East. "Every single group across Syria, Yemen even, that's been killing civillians, blowing up journalists, politicians, these people have been causing havoc and blood-shed unparalleled across the Middle East for decades."

James said, "We're talking essentially about cities and towns that were starved to death. This is brutality on a scale that perhaps the West hasn't absorbed."

The journalist agreed and countered that while this might be seen as a contribution to world peace, "life isn't that simple." Like with Osama Bin Laden, Mr Katerji said, some were saying surely Al-Qaeda were going to strike and perhaps the deceased leader should have been left alive.

James quoted the above Tweet from the Times' David Aaronovitch and reflected, "no obvious strategy is quite a frightening description."

"Some of the criticisms of this that seem to be correct is that not just that there's no strategy in place but it's a sort of deterrent, this is the opposite of a deterrent, this is killing a man so important that Iran has to retaliate. Iran can't not retaliate.

"But at the same time this is a man who would've killed many many many more hundreds of thousands of people than he already had done," Mr Katerji.

The reason he thinks Donald Trump ordered this assassination is because he's a "petty man" and was goaded by Soleimani's name being spray-painted outside the US embassy.

"I think Donald Trump is quite a simple man and he is quick to anger," said Mr Katerji.

He continued that because Soleimani had "unparalleled" military command, "This is an era defining moment for the Middle East. What has happened today is unprecedented, we're in uncharted waters, we don't know how Iran will respond, we are talking about a very dangerous escalation both for the Middle East and for the rest of the world."

James asked if there's any chance Iran will do nothing.

"No," said Mr Katerji, "Iran will have to do something, it's like face-saving... Now the question the rest of the world want to know is what's Iran going to do in response?"

More James O'Brien

See more More James O'Brien

Londoners to question the Mayor at annual State of London Debate with LBC

Londoners to question the Mayor at annual State of London Debate with LBC

Sacked borders watchdog David Neal said the Home Office is 'dysfunctional' and needs reform.

'It goes to the very top': Sacked border watchdog slams Home Office and calls for reform after Cleverly row

Shahd Waleed is trying to leave Rafah with her parents and enter Egypt

'They want us to experience pain': Young woman trapped in Rafah with her parents tells of terror as Israel invasion looms

Sir Keir Starmer has defended comments he made about Margaret Thatcher earlier this month.

Starmer defends Thatcher comments as he says he ‘completely disagrees’ with former prime minister’s politics

A caller to James O’Brien’s programme has shared footage of the extraordinary destruction done to his newly purchased property just outside of Durham.

Property investor's shock at 'unexplainable level of damage' he discovered after buying new home

James Cleverly replaced Suella Braverman as home secretary on Monday

'I've spent more time with James Cleverly this week than with Suella Braverman in the last year', Sadiq Khan tells LBC

James O'Brien discusses Suella Braverman's 'destructionist' leadership style with a caller

'She's a destructionist': James O'Brien caller claims Suella Braverman governs like 'a five-year-old'

James O'Brien

'She definitely has something on him': Caller and James O'Brien debate why the PM hasn't sacked Suella Braverman yet

'A complete reset of the top' is needed says caller.

'We're being let down': There is a 'complete disconnection' between parliamentary and local Conservatives says caller

James O'Brien

'It's essential that people are able to protest peacefully against war', says James O'Brien

James O'Brien

Rishi Sunak 'almost physically moves away' from Suella Braverman in House of Commons debate, says James O'Brien

James O'Brien

'Suella Braverman succeeded - she's caused hate', claims caller after Home Secretary criticises pro-Palestine marches

'A fish rots from the head': James O'Brien caller reacts to claims of misogyny in Downing Street during Covid Inquiry

'A fish rots from the head': James O'Brien caller reacts to claims of misogyny in Downing Street during Covid Inquiry

'Ludicrous, bogus, nonsense': James O'Brien is astounded by Boris Johnson 'laughing at Italy' during the pandemic

'Ludicrous, bogus, nonsense': James O'Brien is astounded by Boris Johnson 'laughing at Italy' during the pandemic

James O'Brien on Dagestan

'It's a hatred as old as religion itself': James O'Brien analyses escalating anti-Semitism after Muslim crowd storms Dagestan airport

Carol Vorderman shocked about UK Poverty

'One million children are living in destitution': Carol Vorderman struggles to comprehend stark wealth inequality in the UK

Wes Streeting on dentistry

Wes Streeting invites the government to steal Labour's policy to solve 'dickensian' NHS dentist crisis

James O'Brien

'I think they're the loneliest voters in Britain', James O'Brien claims after Tories' double by-election defeat

JOB and caller Andy

Biden's visit to Israel is to show that the US stands 'unequivocally' with Israel says James O'Brien caller

JOB and Usman

Israel's current response will only 'strengthen' Hamas by rearing Gazans who seek revenge warns this James O'Brien caller

JOB on deaths in conflict

James O'Brien unpacks the 'controversial' feeling of being 'equally devastated' by Palestinian and Israeli deaths

JOB on starmer speech

Keir Starmer is using 'working class as the opposite of having a sense of entitlement', notes James O'Brien

JOB on HS2 promises

James O'Brien criticises Rishi Sunak's watering down of 'illustrative' Network North projects funded by HS2 cut

Sadiq Khan and James O'Brien

Sadiq Khan declares there is 'no place for anti-Semitism' in London as kosher restaurant in Golders Green attacked

James O'Brien on the challenge HS2 scrappage poses to Labour.

‘How much can Rishi Sunak knock down before Keir Starmer becomes Prime Minister?, asks James O’Brien

James O'Brien

Rishi Sunak is like an 'incontinent cat': James O'Brien slams Tories ahead of PM's Party Conference speech

JoB and Jeremy Hunt

Navy veteran deeply hurt by Jeremy Hunt's plans to clamp down on benefit claimants

James O'Brien on Tory tactics in the upcoming election.

Tories desperately seeking wedge issues is the 'only way' they will retain power in 2024, says James O'Brien

James and caller Mervin on knife crime

'I'd prefer you to go to jail than die': James O'Brien is left aghast by this caller's father's stance on knife possession

James O'Brien

James O'Brien ridicules those prioritising Labour's private school VAT plans over the cost of living crisis

James O'Brien

'I mean this is a novel': James O'Brien hears why this caller blames Labour for HS2 problems

James O'Brien

James O'Brien takes aim at uninformed 'idiots' criticising Keir Starmer for not wanting to diverge from EU rules