Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN's "New Day" on Friday that the U.S. strike that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani was meant to disrupt an "imminent" attack against Americans in the Middle East.

"It was the time to take this action so that we could disrupt this plot, deter further aggression from Qasem Soleimani and the Iranian regime — as well as to attempt to de-escalate the situation. The risk of doing nothing was enormous. The intelligence community made that assessment, and President Trump acted decisively last night."

The state of play: Pompeo largely refused to elaborate on the details of the alleged Iranian plot, including the timing, only stating that it was centered "in the region" and not against the U.S. homeland.

  • He said that Soleimani was plotting a "big action" that could have put hundreds of American lives at risk.

Why it matters, via Axios' Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan: Soleimani had already cost hundreds of American lives over the years and was among the Middle East's most feared powers.

  • A source in close contact with Trump administration senior national security officials tells Axios that one scenario they are especially concerned about — and have been prepared for — is Iran launching cyberattacks.
  • That's the most likely way that Iran could retaliate stateside.

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