Illinois leaders raise alarm after killing of top Iranian general in US airstrike in Iraq

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Saturday, January 4, 2020
Illinois leaders raise alarm after US airstrike in Iraq kills top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani
There is mixed reaction among Illinois lawmakers to the Trump administration's decision to take out a top Iranian general in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Police Department is on alert in the wake of a U.S. airstrike in Iraq that killed a top Iranian general, while some Illinois lawmakers are raising concerns that the attack is escalating tensions in the Middle East.

Security is being stepped up in major cities following the death of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force, in a targeted U.S. airstrike near Baghdad's airport.

RELATED: US citizens urged to leave Iraq, Iran vows 'harsh retaliation' after top general killed

A Chicago Police Department spokesperson said the law enforcement agency is "in real time communication with federal partners and there is no threat to Chicago. The department does routine Homeland Security Patrols on critical infrastructure throughout the city and that will continue."

Security has been increased in Los Angeles and New York.

The U.S. announced Friday that it was sending roughly 3,500 more Army troops to the Middle East.

RELATED: 3,500 more troops from Fort Bragg's 82nd Airborne Division to deploy to Middle East

Reaction to the attack was mixed among members of Illinois' congressional delegation.

Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin issued a statement, expressing concern that the targeted attack "invites even further escalation by a president who has a poor record of judgment in dealing with world powers."

Durbin introduced a war powers resolution Friday to require that any hostilities with Iran be authorized by Congress.

"The Senate must not let this President march into another war in the Middle East without authorization from Congress," Durbin said. "The Constitution is clear - only the Congress can declare war. And whether it does or not, we must ask critical questions of what led us to this point and where we are headed, and be a reliable source of support for the men and women who bear the burden of battle."

Congressman Jesus "Chuy" Garcia said, "The killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani by our military forces confirms our worst fears: President Trump may be provoking an international crisis and putting us on the brink of war to distract the country from his impeachment."

Garcia added, "We cannot put the lives of American service-members, diplomats, and others further at risk by engaging in provocative actions."

Congressman Adam Kinzinger said he supports the U.S. airstrike that killed Soleimani.

The Illinois Republican said he doesn't think President Donald Trump needed to come to Congress before taking such action.

"By targeting the man that has been driving this agenda around for 20 years in the region, I think it was the right move," said Kinzinger, a veteran who also serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee. "Will there be escalation? Yes, but the escalation is not on our part. We're finally responding to continued provocations by Iran."

RELATED: Iranian general killed: What Americans should know about US airstrike

Illinois Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth said in a statement, "There is no question that Iranian Major General Soleimani posed a threat to the free world, but there is also no question that the President - any President - does not have Constitutional authority to draw the United States into a war without prior Congressional approval. This solemn duty is solely for Congress to decide, but the Trump Administration appears to have failed to inform the people's representatives of his actions and, in doing so, may very well lead us to war."

Congressman Mike Bost called the U.S. airstrike "decisive and necessary."

The Illinois Republican said, "For 20 years, Qassem Soleimani has led the Quds Force, orchestrating countless terrorist acts and the deaths of hundreds of U.S. service members."

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley said he has "grave concerns about the repercussions" of the Trump administration's actions in Iraq Thursday.

"Not only did President Trump fail to consult Congress before taking this action, he also clearly did not consider the impact it would have on our allies," said Quigley, an Illinois Democrat. "When we fail to work with our strategic partners to come to significant foreign policy decisions, we risk our legitimacy on the international stage and place our goals at risk."

Congressman Danny Davis also questioned the lack of congressional authorization.

Davis said the U.S. airstrike "represents a reckless escalation of tensions between the United States and Iran and threatens to inflame conflict across the Middle East."

"It is now imperative for the Congress to reign in this president's ill-considered, swaggering military adventurism and assert its constitutional responsibility on the making of war," Davis said in a statement.

Democratic Congressman Brad Schneider said in a statement that, "Ultimately, any sustained action against Iran requires Congressional approval."

He said the Trump administration "does not have Congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) or a declaration of war against Iran. The American people do not want an unnecessary war and are rightly anxious about where we go from here."

Congresswoman Robin Kelly issued a statement expressing concern that "the President has jumped the gun with no real strategy and no real follow-up plan to de-escalate the situation and advance the overall U.S. policy agenda. We simply can't shoot first and ask questions later when we're working to address threats to U.S. national security."

U.S. Rep. Sean Casten called Soleimani "an enemy to America," but said that "reckless action without a meaningful plan to navigate this dangerous and complicated threat will only lead to increased targeting of Americans abroad, including our troops."

Casten said in a statement that, "It is imperative that administration officials immediately brief Congress on the situation, and their plan to protect American citizens and interests abroad."

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi issued a statement Friday.

"The world is a better place without Soleimani and the unbelievable violence for which he was responsible, but this airstrike occurred without Congressional authorization or consultation despite its enormous potential consequences," he said. "It is imperative that we take all steps necessary to protect our forces and personnel against the reprisals and threats to come. The Administration must work with Congress to prevent the current situation from escalating into another endless war in the Middle East."

Congressman Dan Lipinski said in a statement that, "Qassem Soleimani was not only an Iranian military leader responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American servicemembers in Iraq, but he was orchestrating terrorism in the Middle East and around the world. The pertinent question now is whether the President and his team have correctly assessed the consequences of this action. I do not want another war in the Middle East. I am hopeful that no one in Washington does."

Congressman Bill Foster said, "This incident shows that it is past time for Congress to reassert its constitutional duty to specify the terms of engagement of the U.S. military."

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky called the airstrike a "reckless action by President Trump" that "has put out country on the brink of war with Iran."

"Qasem Soleimani was certainly an enemy of the United States. But his assassination is a major escalation in President Trump's conflict with Iran, that makes us less safe. It will inevitably lead to Iranian retaliation - potentially using its proxies throughout the Middle East. That retaliation will likely extend to American allies in the region - and could explode into a broader war throughout the Middle East and beyond," Schakowsky said.

Rep. Lauren Underwood said that the Trump administration's "military actions this week represent an unprecedented escalation of tensions with Iran that increases the dangers of war in the Middle East, posing grave risks to Americans and to our allies in the region. The Administration must provide additional information to Congress to explain the intelligence that justifies these actions and its plan to keep America safe in their wake."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.