CALIFORNIA CITY/ELIZABETHTOWN, KY — An Iranian lawmaker offered a $3 million reward to anyone who would kill U.S. President Donald Trump. This is just the latest in the conflict between the two countries, triggered by the U.S. president ordering an airstrike earlier this month that killed the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani. Trump said Soleimani was “plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel.”
However, the move caused citizens from both countries to take to the streets and Democrats to criticize the president, saying Trump’s actions put the U.S. at the brink of war.
“I think his decision to kill Soleimani was correct,” said David Haines, an U.S. Army veteran who was injured by a type of roadside bomb called an explosively formed penetrator, or EFP, a destructive bomb that even penetrates armored vehicles.
He remembered being on reconnaissance when the EFP hit his vehicle.
“I felt some burning in my hands, but then I didn’t realize what was going on until some of the other soldiers in the vehicle started screaming and I realized that I had fingers dangling off of my right hand and my left hand was actually locked back and I couldn’t move it,” he said.
Haines said he was the lucky one. One soldier in the vehicle died in the explosion, three others lost at least one limb.
WATCH: US Veteran, Father of Veteran: Death of Soleimani Makes World Safer
According to the U.S. Defense Department, 861 servicemen were injured and 196 troops killed by EFPs from 2005-2011.
From the injuries Haines sustained, he now lives with one leg a little bit shorter than the other, hands that are not as functional or strong as before and nerve damage in both hands.
He is able to work, and on the weekends, Haines volunteers by preserving and building hiking trails around his home in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. It is not only community service but a form of therapy for Haines.
“Service and having a purpose was part of what I needed to put back into my life that I’d lost when I left the military,” Haines said.
California resident Patrick Farr also lost much from the Iraq War. His 21-year-old son Clay was a soldier in Iraq on patrol when an EFP hit his vehicle.
“My son was driving the vehicle. The boy sitting behind my son was killed and the soldier in the passenger’s seat, he was severely wounded but died three years later from those wounds,” Farr said.
When he learned of his son’s death, he contacted a friend in the military to get more information.
“My friend asked me an odd question, and he asked me how I felt about cremation. I told him I never talked to Clay about it, but I said ‘you telling me my son’s mutilated?’ And he said ‘yes, he’s pretty bad,’” Farr said as he filled with emotion remembering that conversation.
Farr said he gets up every morning with his son on his mind and goes to bed every night with him in mind.
Clay Farr was 16 years old when the September 11th terrorist attacks happened. From that moment, he wanted to join the military. When he turned 18, he enlisted.
Farr said his son had wanted to reenlist when his tour was up.
“What he had told me was it was so bad over there that he couldn’t turn his back on it,” Farr said.
“When I heard the news of General Soleimani being eliminated, I felt a form of justice for that Soleimani who was directly responsible for my son’s death.” Farr continued, “I believe the world is a better place now without General Soleimani, and the United States citizens are a bit safer now.”
Soleimani and Iraq
U.S. officials said Soleimani was the head of Iran’s Quds Force that taught Iraqi militants how to make and use deadly roadside bombs against U.S. troops after the invasion of Iraq. Iran has denied the claim.
Farr has no doubt in his mind of Iran and Soleimani’s connection to the death of American soldiers in Iraq.
“I think the intelligence community, people at the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Department of Justice all worked for years and years and years gathering that intelligence that allowed the president to view that intelligence, make a decision,” Farr said.
He and Haines are just two of a group of veterans and family members who sued Iran in 2016 in a U.S. federal court, alleging the deaths and injuries were connected to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The Quds Force is a branch of the IRGC with Suleimani at the helm.
“It’s the ultimate form of justice,” Farr said.
The plaintiffs in the trial could get compensation from a U.S. fund set aside for the victims of state-sponsored terrorism.
Critics of Trump’s actions
Not everyone shares Farr and Haines’ views on Iran. There have been demonstrations in the U.S. against President Trump’s actions and policies toward Iran. Many of the Americans who oppose Trump’s actions said he has put America’s safety at risk by placing the country on the brink of war with Iran.
Members of Congress including U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi accused Trump of acting recklessly without first informing Congress of his planned action against Soleimani.
“We must avoid war. And the cavalier attitude of this administration — it’s stunning. And the president, for him to say, ‘Oh I inform you by reading my tweets,’ no, that’s not the relationship that our founders had in mind in the Constitution of the United States when they gave power to the White House to do one thing in terms of our national security and to the Congress to declare war and to allocate resources and the rest,” Pelosi said.
The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed a resolution to stop Trump from further military action in Iran. The resolution is now awaiting action in the Republican-controlled Senate.
In the midst of the political firestorm, Haines warns Americans to take a more global perspective.
“I think Americans are looking at other Americans as bigger enemies than some of the people we have outside of our country, but Americans need to realize that there are people that hate us far more than our fellow Americans out there and Soleimani was one of those guys.”