'Orwellian': British Intelligence Base Reportedly Linked to IRGC Chief Soleimani Assassination
18:32 GMT 02.10.2021 (Updated: 15:16 GMT 28.05.2023)
A top Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) general, Qasem Soleimani was killed in a Trump-ordered American airstrike in January 2020 in Baghdad. The assassination prompted outrage in Iran, with Tehran proclaiming it an act of state terrorism.
Iranian top military officer Qasem Soleimani could have been killed with the use of information provided by the UK's Menwith Hill intelligence base in Yorkshire, according to The Guardian
, citing an investigative report by Barnaby Pace.
The research also questions whether British personnel on the site were involved in assisting deadly US drone strikes, specifically in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen - countries where the United Kingdom is not at war.
The report was presented during a meeting of the Menwith Hill Accountability Campaign, insisting that “any US military activity or US security agency activity carried out at Menwith Hill be carried out in such a way as to make those responsible fully accountable to the UK”.
Pace argues in his report that UK and US forces “operate beyond public scrutiny and accountability”, suggesting that “Orwellian surveillance systems and extrajudicial executions exposed in recent years will likely continue”, unless something changes.
7 September 2016, 19:59 GMT
Technically, Menwith Hill is an RAF base, but it is also operated by the US National Security Agency (NSA), and there are 600 US personnel and 500 British civilians on site, according to The Guardian.
Earlier, the documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden said that Menwith Hill is a part of a large spy network with the ability to accumulate data from hundreds of millions of emails and phone calls daily. The collected information could allegedly be used in "capture-kill" operations, such as tracking the Taliban* targets back in 2011 and "eliminating" terrorists in Yemen.
Amid the voiced concerns in regard to the Soleimani killing and alleged British involvement, a spokesperson for the UK Ministry of Defence weighed in.
“RAF Menwith Hill is part of a worldwide US defence communications network, with the base supporting a variety of communications activity", the spokesperson told The Guardian. "For operational security reasons and as a matter of policy, neither the MoD nor the [US] Department of Defense publicly discuss specifics concerning military operations or classified communications regardless of unit, platform or asset”.
The assassination of Qasem Soleimani, who was believed to be the second most powerful person of Iran, took place in January 2020, when the general was in the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad, with the goal of meeting with Iraqi PM Adil Abdul-Mahdi and discuss de-escalation of tensions with Saudi Arabia.
Former US President Donald Trump authorised the fatal drone strike that claimed the lives of four other Iranian nationals - among them commander of the Kata'ib Hezbollah militia Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
While Washington justified the murder, saying that Soleimani posed an "imminent threat", but Tehran decried the attack as an "act of state terrorism", later carrying out retaliatory airstrikes on US military bases in Iraq, leaving dozens of American soldiers with traumatic brain injuries.
*The Taliban is a terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries