When I became President 3 years ago, I asked all my military people--not just the Washington generals but field generals and their staff, any war veterans that came to the White House--how they would finish the War on Terror that’s been going on unabated for decades.  I got a few unhelpful answers, but a surprising number said this: identify the leaders of terror, track them, spy on them, and when you have enough evidence of what they’ve done and what they’re planning on doing, unmercifully kill them.

All terrorist attacks have one thing in common--the only goal is to inspire terror among their victims for ideological reasons.  That most of their victims could care less about the terrorists’ ideologies does not concern them; the only good human is a human who believes as they do and the rest are bomb fodder.  

So I told my military people this must be a War of Intelligence, not boots on the ground, and they should concentrate their efforts on identifying the leaders of terrorist organizations, track them, spy on them, hand me a list of the worst offenders and I will give the order to unmercifully kill them.  There are thousands of unsung heroes and heroines in this story who did the grunt work of collecting, analyzing, and prioritizing a huge amount of data on terrorists. They don’t parade around in the media beating their chests and claiming how they are keeping the nation safe by leaking information and glorifying wrongdoers.  They understand that this war can’t be won by subjugating nations but by holding those individual miscreants to account.

The list of names and places started out small but has grown larger--over 2,000 terrorists and their strongholds have been identified, tracked, and very specific information about them has been collected.  We know their motives, their financial resources, their allies and close associates, their supply chain. Most of these terrorists smugly believe their activities are clandestine; a few, like Soleimani, brazenly fly around the region openly meeting with known terrorists to plan their next attack.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of terrorist leaders are Islamic extremists--those who believe that to be a good muslim requires the forced conversion or death of any non-muslim, or even a muslim who doesn’t believe their extreme views. Of those Islamic extremists, a vast majority have provable ties to the current Iranian government: their leaders are Iranian or have declared alliances with Iran; their finances, supplies, or training come from Iran; or their ideology and sympathies align with Iran.

For over half of my lifetime we have been terrorized by vicious attacks spawned by an ideology that is the antithesis of American values.  We have tried to ignore it, live with it, placate those responsible, pay them off, fight them with conventional weapons and tactics. It’s time to fight fire with fire: for every one act of terror, a terrorist or terrorist stronghold will be destroyed--believe me when I say with the least amount of civilian casualties possible.  It is not the Iranian people, for whom I hold the deepest sympathies, but their tyrannical leaders I hold responsible for the world-wide atrocities committed in the name of religious zealotry.  

It is to Iran’s leaders, then, that I make this promise.  You do not want American troops in your neighborhood--neither do I.  In this we are in agreement. We do not want your ideology anywhere near U.S citizens, who believe in and practice freedom of religion.  If you refrain from trying to force your ideology on the world through terrorist acts such as bombing or cutting off the heads of innocent people, we will both have a win-win: I will joyfully withdraw U.S. troops from the middle east.  If you insist on continuing with your favorite tactic, I have personally drawn up a list of 53--well, it’s 52 now that Suleimani is gone--targets and one will meet the same fate as Suleimani for every terrorist act that can be traced to you or one of your allies or sympathizers.  So you better hope that the strings you’ve attached to these killers are strong enough to be yanked back before, as a line in one of our more famous movies puts it, a house drops on you too.

For those of you in the fake news media panting to publish a list of those targets, only I know what they are so you can’t claim they were leaked by some “patriotic” bureaucrat.  Only I will give the order for the next target’s destruction after a careful analysis has been made of the next terror attack. I do not give such an order lightly; however you may try to paint me I am a Christian and an American who has grown up valuing human life.

It is my hope and prayer that the promise of personal destruction in response to acts of wide-spread destruction will end the War on Terror.  Please, to whichever God or Belief you pray to, pray for the same.