Home News Terrorism Who Was Qassem Soleimani, the Quds Force Commander?

Who Was Qassem Soleimani, the Quds Force Commander?

The death of former IRGC-QF commander Qassem Soleimani severely degraded the Iranian regime's terrorist abilities and oppressive power, why?
The death of former IRGC-QF commander Qassem Soleimani severely degraded the Iranian regime's terrorist abilities and oppressive power, why?

At dawn on January 3, 2019, the Iranian regime was taken aback by the death of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, in Baghdad. On the order of U.S. President Donald Trump, American troops tracked Soleimani’s footprint in Iraq and eventually eliminated him with a precise drone strike.

In addition to Soleimani’s bodyguards, Abu-Mahdi al-Muhandis, a known terrorist and the deputy chief of Iran-backed militias in Iraq, was killed. Al-Muhandis had a notorious background of orchestrating terror attacks in Kuwait and Iraq, and his hands were stained with the blood of many innocent people.

Qassem Soleimani’s History from 1979

In his resume, he had no political activities before the Iranian anti-monarchic revolution in February 1979. As of the revolution, he was working at the Water and Sewage Organization in his hometown, Kerman province. After the revolution, he joined the IRGC to serve the Islamic Republic Founder Ruhollah Khomeini.

Soleimani was personally involved in the crackdown on Iranian Kurdish dissidents in 1980. Due to his crimes against Kurdish people, the IRGC hierarchy used him in hunting down, targeting, and mass killing opposition groups, particularly the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), in the 1980s.

Thanks to his enormous crimes, the regime’s leaders promoted him to the position of commander of the 41st Sarallah Brigade. Later, this brigade was upgraded to the 41st Sarallah Division. He was one of the IRGC commanders of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war. Like many other IRGC commanders, Soleimani used the ‘human wave’ tactic to open the minefields. This outdated tactic contributed to many deaths among Iranian forces during the war.

In 1997, Soleimani was appointed as the commander of the IRGC Quds Force (IRGC-QF). On January 24, 2011, Soleimani received the rank of major-general. Given the IRGC-QF crimes in different Arab countries, especially bombardments and toxic attacks against civilians in Syria, regional people named him the child-killer general.

In this respect, the regime’s advocates admitted to the regional people’s hatred for Qassem Soleimani. “If we do not perform our task, once we will see that exactly where [Soleimani] sacrificed his blood, the people of there are posting hashtags against him. Then, we are responsible because we failed to link the people with him,” said a Sharia Law Professor at Mashhad Astan-e Quds Razavi University Mohammad Saleh Komeili Khorasani in an interview with Astan-e Quds TV Channel on December 31.

Soleimani’s Role in the IRGC Intelligence Department

Following the IRGC foundation in April 1979, its commander established an intelligence unit in this body. Mohsen Rezaei, the fifth IRGC commander-in-chief, was commanding this unit. As head of the IRGC Intelligence Unit—later upgraded to a department—Rezaei directly connected with Khomeini.

Afterward, Ahmad Vahidi and Qassem Soleimani became the intelligence unit’s chief. Vahidi was the first IRGC-QF commander and later became the Defense Minister (September 2009 – August 2013). Due to the IRGC-QF involvement in the AMIA bombing in Argentina, Interpol issued an international warrant for Vahidi.

From 1981, the IRGC intelligence unit constantly grew while it was the leading implementer of the regime’s terror attacks as of 1984. Later, this unit was upgraded to a special department focused on pursuing, spying, capturing, torturing, and killing dissidents inside Iran.

Soleimani Became the IRGC-QF Commander

In 1997, the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei appointed Soleimani as the IRGC-QF Commander. The IRGC-QF is a special unit that oversees the Iranian regime operations outside Iran. This terrorist entity is directly involved in the massacres, bomb attacks, assassinations, hostage-taking operations, and espionage against other nationals and the Iranian diaspora.

The IRGC-QF also recruited and groomed extremist and fundamental thugs in its various divisions to improve its goals. In this regard, this terrorist entity has played a crucial role in killing Syrian citizens and suppressing anti-Bashar al-Assad protests.

Under Qassem Soleimani, the IRGC-QF used radical proxies like Lebanese Hezbollah, Yemeni Ansar al-Yemen Movement, Afghani Fatemiyoun Division, Pakistani Zeinabioun Division, and Iraqi Shiite Militias—who call themselves Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units—to destabilize the Middle East region.

Furthermore, the IRGC-QF is involved in confidential transactions such as drug transfer and trade. In addition to financing its terror attacks, the IRGC-QF uses the privileges of its illicit activities to cover its proxies’ stipends. In a ballpark estimate, Tehran monthly pays $16 million to Fatemiyoun Division members in addition to their weapons and ammunition expenditures, all provided by the mullahs and the IRGC-QF.

Also, Brigade General Ahmadreza Pourdastan, head of the Army’s Center for Strategic Studies and Research and the former commander of the Iranian regime’s ground forces, admitted that on the orders of Qassem Soleimani, the army blatantly violated UN Security Council Resolutions by sending weapons, ammunition, and forces to Syria and massacred the Syrian people by forming a combat brigade.

The Iranian regime also uses this terrorist entity and its subsidiaries to dominate other nations. Earlier, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain disbanded the IRGC-backed squads, which tried to subvert regional states. According to Saudi and Bahraini Intelligence Apparatuses, alleged terrorists had been trained in Iran and by IRGC-QF commanders.

Moreover, the IRGC-QF officially controls Iran’s policy toward the Middle East, particularly Iraq. In 2006, through a secret letter to the Coalition then-commander in Iran Major-General David Petraeus, Qassem Soleimani bluntly acknowledged that he directs Iran’s policy toward this region and that the U.S. must deal with him.

After Soleimani’s death, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif affirmed that he had weekly meetings with the former IRGC-QF commander, and they coordinated the regime’s approach in this area.

Notably, the U.S. Treasury Department designated the IRGC-QF as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in October 2007. Since then, IRGC-QF commanders and members disguise themselves as diplomats to carry out their mission. In August 2011, the European Union also designated the IRGC-QF as a terrorist organization for aiding Bashar al-Assad in the crackdown on Syrian protesters.

For instance, in Iraq, Iranian Ambassador Iraj Masjedi is one of the high-ranking commanders of this terrorist entity. Masjedi’s predecessors, Hassan Kazemi-Qomi and Hassan Danaei-Far were also former IRGC-QF commanders. Meanwhile, Iran’s new ambassador to Houthi-controlled Yemeni lands, Hassan Irlu, is an IRGC-QF commander.

Furthermore, Tehran improved a bomb attack against the Iranian opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in Paris. The attack would have been the most important terror attack on European soil if it was not foiled at the latest moment by European law enforcement.

Later, investigations and evidence showed an IRGC-QF member Assadollah Assadi, who had disguised himself as the third counselor at Iran’s embassy in Vienna, was the attack’s brain. In July 2018, German authorities detained Assadi after he personally delivered 1lb of TATP explosive material to an operative couple in Luxemburg. Assadi and his accomplices were tried by a Belgian court and are likely to be convicted to between 15-20 years in prison and expulsion.

Funding Extremist Proxies at the Expense of Iranian People

On December 27, in an interview with Tehran-controlled Arabic TV Channel al-Alam, Mahmoud al-Zahar, Hamas co-founder and former Foreign Minister of Ismail Haniyeh’s cabinet (March 2005 – March 2007), unveiled that he had received huge sums of cash from Qassem Soleimani.

“My first meeting with ‘martyr’ Qassem Soleimani was after I became the Palestinian Foreign Minister in 2006. I visited several countries, including Iran. I met with my Iranian counterpart and a few other officials. Prior to my return, I also met with Mr. Qassem Soleimani,” said Mahmoud al-Zahar.

“The meeting with President Mahmoud [Ahmadi] Nejad was positive. I had some requests from him, and he referred me to Mr. Qassem Soleimani. In a meeting, I told [Soleimani] that our critical problem is paying our employees’ paychecks, support, and aid that we must provide,” he added.

“A decision was quickly made because I had to leave the next day. I saw $22 million in cash in several suitcases at the airport. We had agreed on more, but since we were a nine-man delegation, we could not carry more due to flight instructions. There were 40 kilograms of money in each suitcase,” al-Zahar elaborated.

Also, Ziad Nokhaleh, the leader of one of the Iran-backed terror groups in Palestine, admitted to Soleimani’s role in sponsoring terrorism in the African continent. He revealed that the former IRGC-QF commander had turned Sudan into an arsenal for Iran’s proxies.

Nokhaleh revealed that Soleimani personally visited Sudan and signed a deal that allowed the IRGC-QF to use Sudanese soil for transferring weapons to Gaza. “He utilized all of Iran’s capabilities to send weapons to Gaza,” said Nokhaleh in an interview with Lebanese al-Mayadeen TV Channel on December 31.

“I say that missiles those delivered by Soleimani in the Gaza strip were the same missiles that began the bombardment on Tel Aviv,” said Nokhaleh, adding that Soleimani supervised the training of Tehran-backed groups in Gaza in order to use long-range missiles.

Four days earlier, Lebanese Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah had admired Soleimani’s work in constructing ‘arsenals in Sudan.’ Nasrallah explained that the IRGC-QF had used those facilities as a launchpad to smuggle weapons and ammunition to Tehran-backed Lebanese and Palestinian groups. These arsenals were later eliminated during airstrikes in January and February 2009.

IRGC-QF Is Under Khamenei’s Thumb

More importantly, the IRGC-QF’s donations are considered ‘money laundering,’ even according to the regime’s constitutions. However, how did Qassem Soleimani manage to provide $22 million in just a few hours?

Currently, according to credible reports and IRGC commanders’ remarks, the IRGC commander-in-chief does not command the IRGC-QF despite the Quds Force officially being an IRGC subsidiary. The Supreme Leader directly oversees the IRGC-QF. In this respect, Khamenei’s office was and is the main source of the IRGC-QF commander’s generous donations.

Summary of Repression and Human Rights Violations in Iran – July 2020

On the other hand, the IRGC-QF’s terror attacks were doubled by appointing Qassem Soleimani as the head of this terrorist entity. Less than a year after Soleimani’s appointment, in August 1998, the IRGC-QF bombed U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya.

These terror attacks left hundreds of deaths among innocent people. Afterward, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani officially supported the bomb attacks during a speech. Hashemi Rafsanjani was Khomeini’s most important trustee, the Iran-Iraq war commander, a former President, and a former Parliament (Majlis) Speaker. He finally died in January 2017.

Furthermore, from 1997 to 2001, in coordination with the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), Soleimani’s IRGC-QF orchestrated at least 69 terror attacks against the PMOI/MEK, leaving dozens of deaths and injuries among the dissidents.

Former IRGC commander-in-chief Yahya Rahim Safavi revealed that the IRGC-QF was behind these attacks, including a heavy bombardment by using around 1,000 medium- and long-range missiles against PMOI/MEK bases in Iraq on April 18, 2001.

The IRGC-QF also has close and active ties with the al-Qaeda terrorist organization in Afghanistan. There is some information that links Qassem Soleimani and his forces to the September 11 attack in the U.S. The U.S. government disclosed that the attackers were transported from the Iran-Afghanistan border in cooperation with the IRGC-QF.

Soleimani’s Role in Establishing ISIL/ISIS

Since January 2003, in parallel with the intensification of tensions between the U.S. and the then-Iraqi government, the IRGC-QF handled Iraq’s case, aiming to plant its required agents in the next Iraqi government. In this context, Qassem Soleimani dissolved Setad-e Nasr—the regime headquarters for Iraqi affairs—and merged its forces in the IRGC-QF.

After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Soleimani encouraged the U.S. to swap PMOI/MEK members with al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. However, the U.S. rejected the deal with this terrorist entity.

Afterward, Soleimani dispatched al-Zarqawi to Iraq to launch terror attacks against coalition troops and Iraqi citizens in this country. Later the al-Qaeda leader established the Islamic State of Iraq.

Following al-Zarqawi’s death in 2007, Qassem Soleimani aided his successors, including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to revive the group in Iraq. In coordination with then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Soleimani helped al-Baghdadi flee from an Iraqi prison. Currently, al-Maliki is under investigation for the prison break. The former IRGC-QF commander also gathered al-Qaeda members in Syria and encouraged them to join al-Baghdadi.

Eventually, the fugitive leader and al-Qaeda members managed to restore their fundamentalist terrorist organization in Iraq, supported by Tehran’s financial aid and weapons. Given the disputes between the new leader and al-Qaeda, al-Baghdadi established his own group, naming it ‘the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS).’

ISIS members later admitted that al-Baghdadi had a secret deal with Iran. According to the deal, ISIS had received weapons and ammunition from the mullahs in return for not conducting operations on Iranian soil.

Iran and Bashar al-Assad Cooperate with ISIL/ISIS

On February 12, 2014, the U.S. Treasury Department unveiled that the Iranian regime in Syria had supported al-Qaeda. Moreover, according to documents and evidence obtained during the attack on Osama bin Laden’s hideaway, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) revealed the Iranian regime’s ties with this group. The CIA also disclosed that ISIL/ISIS is a segregated branch of al-Qaeda.

Qassem Soleimani’s Crimes in Syria

In 2011, when Bashar al-Assad’s rule was on the brink of collapse and the people of Syria, Khamenei dispatched Soleimani to keep al-Assad, as the main ally for the Iranian regime, in power. In this regard, Qassem Soleimani was the most important element in continuing Assad’s rule and making more humanitarian crises in Syria.

Soleimani was involved in the massacre of more than 700,000 innocent people; he and his forces were directly responsible for the displacement of more than 13 million people in addition to destroying the homes of more than 6.1 million citizens in this country.

Qassem Soleimani and the IRGC-QF assisted Bashar al-Assad’s air force in conducting more than 6,000 bombing operations against civilian districts. At the time, they also operated more than 6,000 artillery operations against Syrian residential areas, which resulted in the destruction of dozens of cities in this country.

Notably, Soleimani’s crimes include blowing up 492 hospitals and medical centers and murdering 847 doctors and medics who were trying to rescue the wounded and the people who had been buried under the ruins after Assad’s inhuman bombardments.

Furthermore, Soleimani and his forces assisted Damascus’s dictator in conducting 221 chemical attacks against residential areas. Chemical attacks left long-term disastrous impacts on the lives of tens of thousands of citizens in these areas in addition to the mass killing of thousands of people, including youth, children, and even babies.

IRGC-QF’s Relationship with Lebanese Hezbollah

Also, Lebanese Hezbollah, as the main Iran-backed proxy in the Middle East, has proven its loyalty to the regime time and again. Since Qassem Soleimani became the IRGC-QF commander, these relations became much more strengthened and deepened.

After the death of Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah’s brain and strategist, Soleimani, took Mughniyeh’s family to Iran and encouraged his daughter to marry Mughniyeh’s son.

On the other hand, Soleimani frequently funded Hezbollah with the Iranian people’s properties and national assets. A few days before his death, Soleimani granted Hezbollah leaders and members monthly wages while Iranian officials were blaming the U.S. for sanctions and disturbing Tehran’s banking transactions.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah frequently praised Qassem Soleimani and made one of his most painful speeches following Soleimani’s death. The ‘Lebanese leader’ also vowed to take revenge for ‘Soleimani’s assassination.’ However, neither the regime nor its proxies such as Hezbollah have been satisfied with the verbal retaliation so far.