LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — As reports of additional airstrikes in Baghdad come in, Iranians in Los Angeles responded to the Thursday killing of a top Iranian general.
“I’m praying for the peace, that’s everybody’s goal,” Todd Khodadadi, an Iranian American, said. “Peace in the world, hopefully it happens soon.”
Khodadadi, the owner of Tochal Market in Westwood, was optimistic Friday as news spread of the death of Iran’s top military commander, General Qassem Soleimani.
“Nobody likes people get killed, but this person had a lot of history behind him, and that’s why it makes everybody happy,” he said.
Nooshin Mashkaty, a NASA engineer who was born in Iran but moved to Los Angeles as a child for school, agreed.
“Having a terrorist pay his due is a very happy moment,” she said. “Soleimani is the brain behind all of the terrorist attack, internal and external, so you could imagine how everyone was happy. He not only has killed many Americans, he’s killed many Iranians and many other people around the world.”
When the news broke, Mashkaty received video from friends celebrating in Iraq.
“He’s gone,” Kevin Nikjou, who was also born in Iran before coming to Southern California, said. “It’s a turning point.”
Nikjou left at the age of 20, though his mother and brother are still there.
“I was so happy, so excited when I heard the news,” Nikjou said. “This is the news I was waiting for a long time, and I think it was overdue, but I’m glad it happened. This is a big move, a big turning point for the people of Iran for the freedom and democracy of the region.”
Mashkaty said she felt the death of Soleimani weakened terrorist activity and prevented a future attack, but Nikjou was not as optimistic.
“I’m not sure this regime is just going to back off,” he said. “I’m sure they’re going to retaliate somehow, but we have to support the people of Iran for a regime change. I think that’s the best option.”
Ultimately, all three said they believe the world is safer after the death of Soleimani.
But that feeling of safety here in Los Angeles did not translate abroad as the Department of State issued a warning late Thursday night for all Americans in Iraq to depart immediately — and urged caution to those remaining in other parts of the Middle East.
#Iraq: Due to heightened tensions in Iraq and the region, we urge U.S. citizens to depart Iraq immediately. Due to Iranian-backed militia attacks at the U.S. Embassy compound, all consular operations are suspended. U.S. citizens should not approach the Embassy. pic.twitter.com/rdRce3Qr4a
— Travel – State Dept (@TravelGov) January 3, 2020
Back at Los Angeles International Airport, security measures have not been increased, but officials said they would continue to monitor the situation and make changes as needed.