The overwhelming majority of Iranians despised Soleimani, an infamous symbol of regime intimidation and murder, for his crimes against the Iranian people and throughout the region. The Iranian people and Iraqi protesters who have been calling for Soleimani’s expulsion from Iraq for some time welcomed his death as a sign of the demise of the regime’s control over their country.
Soleimani, carrying the rank of major general, was in disrepute as the hatchet man for Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, and was a hated figure. During uprisings in Iran in 2018 and 2019, protesters tore up and torched his posters in different cities.
Qassem Soleimani as the commander of the terrorist Quds force is known for his crimes in other countries, but in this piece, we want to look at his crimes against Iran’s main opposition group the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI-MEK).
Qassem Soleimani was born on March 11, 1957, in a village near the town of Baft, in the southeastern province of Kerman. He did not finish his elementary education. He worked as an unskilled construction laborer while he was very young. He did not receive any military training. Yet he rose to the top of the IRGC command because of his ruthlessness and loyalty to Khamenei.
In 1998, Soleimani was appointed as the commander of the terrorist Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), its extraterritorial arm.
Although the Quds Force is assigned to missions outside Iran, Soleimani, as a member of the IRGC high command, has been a major contributor to the regime’s repressive machine inside Iran.
In July 1999, at the height of student protests, he signed a letter along with other IRGC commanders, warning then-President Mohammad Khatami that if he did not put down the revolt the IRGC would intervene. “Our patience has run out,” the IRGC generals, including Soleimani wrote. The police crushed the demonstrators, as they did again, a decade later.
Soleimani’s role in murdering MEK members
Qasem Soleimani killed 141 members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) in terrorist attacks in Iraq from 2009 to 2016 using Quds Force proxies in Iraq which he commanded.
He directed several of the attacks against Camp Ashraf, where MEK members resided. Subsequently, when MEK members relocated to Camp Liberty under UN and US auspices, Iranian regime proxies launched numerous missile attacks on Camp Liberty on orders of Soleimani, killing several dozen.
The Ashraf massacre
Soleimani’s most heinous crime occurred on September 1, 2013, when proxies of the Iranian dictatorship, including Kata’ib Hezbollah and Asa’eb Ahl Al-Haq, attacked Camp Ashraf in Diyala province in Iraq. At the time, only 101 MEK members were residing there as custodians of their properties under an agreement with the UN and the US. The attack led to the execution-style killing of 52 defenseless MEK members and seven, including 6 women were taken, hostage.
The IRGC announced in a statement: “In a revolutionary act, the brave children of the Iraqi martyred combatants took their historical revenge from the Mojahedin Organization.”
The terrorist Quds Force’s news agency called Tasnim attributed the attack to an unknown group named “The popular tendency of the Entifadiya Sha’baniya children”. This is exactly the same known tactic used when a group called Jewish Al-Mokhtar took responsibility for the rocket attack on Camp Liberty. These groups are no more than subordinates of the Quds Force that work in full collaboration with the Iraqi government.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran revealed on September 2, 2013: “Following the chemical bombing in the Damascus outskirts and the rising probability of a military strike by the U.S. against Syria, Khamenei demanded that the project of massacres in Ashraf be expedited. On Tuesday, August 27, Commander of the terrorist Qods Force, Qassem Soleimani hurriedly traveled to Iraq and met with Nouri al-Maliki out of ordinary administrative hours (at 10:30 pm). In that meeting, the probability of a U.S. attack on Syria and the Ashraf massacre was discussed. In that meeting, where Maliki’s National Security Advisor Falih al- Fayyadh was also present, Soleimani and Maliki concurred on the timing of the attack on Ashraf. As such, practical steps to implement the attack, while the preparations had already been made, started.”