While defending President Trump’s decision to authorize the drone strike that killed top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, Vice President Pence falsely claimed on Twitter that Soleimani helped “10 of the 12” Sept. 11 attackers travel to Afghanistan.
“In Yemen, the Qods Force, under Soleimani’s leadership, has orchestrated and enabled the launch of missiles that have resulted in the deaths of dozens of people in the region. Targets have included civilian airports in Saudi Arabia,” Pence tweeted.
“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,” he added in a subsequent tweet.
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.
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) January 3, 2020
Links between Soleimani and the 9/11 attacks have not been proven, many 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.”
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.”
Pence also mentioned 12 attackers, but there were actually 19.
Pence’s tweet drew condemnation from experts, journalists and former government officials.
The President of the United States is pinning Benghazi on Iran. Then to top it off, the Vice President of the United States is pinning 9/11 on Iran.
This is not only reckless, it’s dangerous misinformation. pic.twitter.com/HiiMJiPcVa
— Holly Dagres (@hdagres) January 4, 2020
Mr. Vice President,
First, there were 19 terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks: 15 Saudis, 2 Emiratis, 1 Egyptian, and 1 Lebanese.
Second, there are lots of bad things Soleimani did, this is not one of them. https://t.co/7D8jnQ9LPI
— Ali H. Soufan (@Ali_H_Soufan) January 3, 2020
Also this: "We have found no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9/11 attacks. At the time of their travel through Iran, the Al Qaeda operatives themselves were probably not aware of the specific details of their future operation."
— David Lapan (@DaveLapanDC) January 3, 2020