TEHRAN, IRAN – Iran issued an arrest warrant and asked Interpol for help in detaining President Donald Trump and dozens of others it believes carried out the U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad, a prosecutor reportedly said Monday.
Interpol later said it wouldn't consider Iran's request, meaning Trump faces no danger of arrest. However, the charges underscore the heightened tensions between the countries since Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.
Tehran top prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said Trump and 35 others whom Iran accuses of "directing the assassination" of Gen. Qassem Soleimani at the Baghdad airport on Jan. 3, face "murder and terrorism charges," the state-run IRNA news agency reported.
The strike was ordered by Trump, who said it was carried out to prevent an imminent attack on U.S. interests, but in the months since the attack, the United States has presented no evidence of this.
The Pentagon also defended the killing of Soleimani, who it said planned attacks on American diplomats and service members, including a deadly assault on an Iraqi military base in December that killed an American contractor.
Alqasimehr did not identify anyone else sought other than Trump, but stressed that Iran would pursue his prosecution even after his presidency ends.
Alqasimehr also was quoted as saying that Iran requested a "red notice" be put out for Trump and the others, which represents the highest-level arrest request issued by Interpol. Local authorities generally make the arrests on behalf of the country that requests it. The notices cannot force countries to arrest or extradite suspects, but can put government leaders on the spot and limit suspects' travel.
Interpol later said its guidelines for notices forbids it from "any intervention or activities of a political" nature.
Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative for Iran, dismissed the arrest warrant. "It's a propaganda stunt that no one takes seriously," he said.
Sanam Vakil, a researcher at Chatham House, a London-based research institute, said it was unsurprising that Iran had chosen to take the largely symbolic step of calling for warrants and said that the killing of Soleimani had become part of Iran's "narrative of U.S. injustice." "They haven't forgotten Jan. 3, and Soleimani is a really important figure within the conservative establishment, and really within the broader population," Vakil said. "So being able to push back symbolically using international agencies, there might be a subtle message there that this isn't going away."
The New York Times contributed to this report.