The internet had been flooded with Soleimani positives (intentionally) over the past several days. More so than the past 20 years of constant postings of his greatness. But there is another side of Soleimani that Iran hides. One that tarnishes the protagonist of their story with a balanced view. Soleimani learned how to kill in the 80s in the Iran-Iraq war. The US avenged the indiscriminate killing and maiming of American military at the hands of Soleimani. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Administration officials attributed the designation to the IRGC’s being an “active and enthusiastic participant in acts of terror,” including the
1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut and the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers complex in Saudi Arabia.
He was “one of the most notorious criminals in Iranian history, who had the blood of hundreds of thousands of the people in Iran and the region,” according to Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the US office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI-US).https://english.alarabiya.net/features/2020/01/04/Iran-s-Qassem-Soleimani-Global-mass-killer
Soleimani is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. service members, according to administration officials. They say that under his direction, Iran supplied the explosive devices that killed many Americans in the early years of the Iraq War and that he continued to oversee Shiite militias operating in Iraq.
There was almost no terror attack in the last 20 years that didn’t have Qassem Soleimani’s fingerprints on it,” said Ben Barak, speaking today to Israeli Army Radio. “The [Iranian] entrenchment in Syria, arming [the Lebanese Shiite militia] Hezbollah, the [Hezbollah] precision-guided missile project, contacts with Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
Iranian actions to deify Soleimani seen as blasphemy by many Muslims.
A U.S. federal lawsuit continues today involving more than 300 plaintiffs, nearly all either direct victims or family members of victims of the armor-piercing improvised explosive devices that Iran made and exported to Iraq, known as Explosively Formed Penetrators, or EFPs.
Suleimani led Iran’s Quds Force, an elite branch of the Revolutionary Guard that for years supplied Iraq-based insurgents with bombmaking materials, expertise and tactical training.
Those attacks targeted U.S. troops from at least 2004 through the war’s end in 2011. Ever-increasing armor protection and countermeasures were met with improved tactics and methods that kept killing troops.
Government reports and court filings estimate that at least 1,000 U.S. victims of IED attacks in Iraq can be directly linked to Iranian support through training, materials or employment of the devices.
In December 2018, a sample of those individuals testified in court in Washington, D.C. about the impact of the attacks, while their attorneys strung together evidence and testimony linking the attacks to Iran.
Later in 2019, a federal judge awarded damages in the billions to many of the victims, but it’s unclear if the Iranian government will ever pay any of the claims.
In 2012, HSBC, a British-based investment bank, admitted to its role and agreed to forfeit $1.25 billion; Credit Suisse agreed to forfeit $536 million; Commerzbank AG agreed to pay $1.45 billion; Standard Chartered Bank reached a $340 million settlement; and Barclay’s forfeited $298 million in connection with its violations.
Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1984, Iran continued its terrorist-related activity in 2019, including support for Hizballah, Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, and various terrorist groups in Syria, Iraq, and throughout the Middle East. Iran used the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to provide support to terrorist organizations, provide cover for associated covert operations, and create instability in the region.
Iran has acknowledged the involvement of the IRGC-QF in the Iraq and Syria conflicts, and the IRGC-QF is Iran’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad.
In April 2019, the Secretary of State designated the IRGC, including the Qods Force, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Iran also used regional proxy forces to provide deniability, in an attempt to shield it from accountability for its aggressive policies.
2019, Iran supported various Iraqi Shia terrorist groups, including Kata’ib Hizballah (KH), Harakat al-Nujaba, and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.
During the same period, KH was responsible for a series of rocket attacks against American interests in Iraq, which culminated in the death of an American citizen following a 30 plus rocket barrage in December 2019.
On December 31, Iran‑backed Shia militia groups, including KH, participated in an attack on U.S. Embassy Baghdad, which resulted in significant damage to embassy property. There were no embassy casualties and security personnel used less-than-lethal countermeasures to repulse intruders. Iran also bolstered the Assad regime in Syria and Shia terrorist groups operating there, including Hizballah. Iran views the Assad regime in Syria as a crucial ally and Syria and Iraq as vital routes through which to supply weapons to Hizballah, Iran’s primary terrorist proxy group. Through financial or residency enticements, Iran has facilitated and coerced primarily Shia fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan to participate in the Assad regime’s brutal crackdown in Syria. Iran-supported Shia militias in Iraq have also committed serious human rights abuses against primarily Sunni civilians. Iranian forces have directly backed militia operations in Syria with armored vehicles, artillery, and drones.
Since the end of the 2006 Israeli-Hizballah conflict, Iran has supplied Hizballah with thousands of rockets, missiles, and small arms in direct violation of UNSCR 1701. Israeli security officials and politicians expressed concerns that Iran was supplying Hizballah with advanced weapons systems and technologies, as well as assisting the group in creating infrastructure that would permit it to indigenously produce rockets and missiles to threaten Israel from Lebanon and Syria.
Iran has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in support of Hizballah and trained thousands of its fighters at camps in Iran. Hizballah fighters have been used extensively in Syria to support the Assad regime. In Bahrain, Iran has continued to provide weapons, support, and training to local Shia militant groups, including the al-Ashtar Brigades. In Yemen, Iran has provided weapons, support, and training to the Houthi militants, who have engaged in terrorist attacks against regional targets.
Also in 2019, Iran provided support to Hamas and other designated Palestinian terrorist groups, including Palestine Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. These Palestinian terrorist groups were behind numerous deadly attacks originating in Gaza and the West Bank, including attacks against Israeli civilians in the Sinai Peninsula.
Namely, the DoD has confirmed, once again, that the Iranians are in the business of waging a proxy war against America and her allies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Simply put, the Iranians are in the business of killing Americans.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force, which “clandestinely exert[s] military, political, and economic power to advance Iranian national interests abroad.” The DoD says the IRGC-QF’s “global activities include: gathering tactical intelligence; conducting covert diplomacy; providing training, arms, and financial support to surrogate groups and terrorist organizations; and facilitating some of Iran’s provision of humanitarian and economic support to Islamic causes.” The IRGC is also the chief Iranian benefactor of Hezbollah in Lebanon and elsewhere. In fact, as the DoD goes on to note, the IRGC has been responsible for launching terrorist attacks against Americans, such as the 1983 embassy bombing in Lebanon and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia. Both of those attacks were Hezbollah operations.
The Iranian government maintains a robust offensive cyber program and has sponsored cyberattacks against foreign government and private sector entities.
Iran remained unwilling to bring to justice senior al-Qa’ida (AQ) members residing in the country and has refused to publicly identify members in its custody. Iran has allowed AQ facilitators to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iran since at least 2009, enabling AQ to move funds and fighters to South Asia and Syria.
As in past years, the Iranian government continued supporting terrorist plots to attack Iranian dissidents in several countries in continental Europe. In recent years, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Albania have all either arrested or expelled Iranian government officials implicated in various terrorist plots in their respective territories. Denmark similarly recalled its ambassador from Tehran after learning of an Iran-backed plot to assassinate an Iranian dissident in its country.
Major General Qasem Soleimani was the commander of Iran’s Quds Force (1998), the external wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) responsible for liaising with Iran’s global proxies. As head of the Quds Force, Soleimani reported directly to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. In his role, Soleimani helped create, train, fund, arm, and direct Hamas, Hezbollah, the plethora of Iraqi Shia Terrorist groups, the Houthis, cells in Afghanistan, active roles in Venezuela, while directly interfering in Iraqi politics.
The U.S. government, the United Nations, and the European Union have all sanction-designated Soleimani for involvement in either Iran’s nuclear program or the Syrian civil war in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Furthermore, U.S. Central Command documents declassified in 2015 reveal that Iraqi Shiite militants under Soleimani’s command killed more than 500 U.S. service members in Iraq between 2005 and 2011.
U.S. intelligence has also linked Soleimani to a 2011 assassination attempt of Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States in Washington, D.C
Soleimani had commanded the Quds Force since 1998, having proven his dedication to the Iranian regime as an IRGC divisional commander during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. As Quds Force commander, Soleimani coordinated Iraqi Shiite militants fighting against U.S. forces between 2005 and 2011. Soleimani also reportedly influenced then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to insist on the 2011 U.S. withdrawal.
He led Quds Force operations against ISIS in Iraq, where he oversaw approximately 100,000 Iraqi Shiite fighters and six Iranian training camps, according to August 2016 U.S. military estimates, Soleimani had told Iranian media that he believed Western nations created ISIS in order to target Iran. Soleimani had also accused the U.S. government of seeking to weaken Iran and preserve ISIS.
Soleimani’s influence extended to Syria as well. According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Soleimani oversaw Iran’s military support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. One Free Syrian Army commander told the Wall Street Journal in 2013 that Soleimani was “running Syria. [President] Bashar [al-Assad] is just his mayor.” During the October 2016 funeral of IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani, Soleimani justified Iran’s role in Syria as repayment for Syria’s support during the Iran-Iraq War. He further argued that it was in Iran’s interests to intervene on Assad’s behalf.
Soleimani was banned from international travel because of his 2007 U.N. designation for his role in Iran’s nuclear program. Nonetheless, he reportedly flew to Moscow at least three times—in July 2015, April 2016, and February 2017—for meetings with Russian officials. After Soleimani reportedly traveled to Russia for military discussions in April 2016, the U.S. State Department confirmed that U.N. travel sanctions on Soleimani remained in effect despite the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1.
Despite being dubbed “the shadow commander” in a 2013 New Yorker article, Soleimani had gained celebrity status in Iran. Iranian media began publicizing Soleimani’s role in the fight against ISIS in late 2014, labeling him a hero. Since 2014, Iranian media have published numerous photos of Soleimani with Iranian, Iraqi Shiite, and Hezbollah fighters in Iraq and Syria.
Soleimani’s image was and still is carefully crafted as the hero of the country. Scores of Basiji groups continuously post positive information, images, videos, and even a video game extolling the virtues and magnificence of Soleimani.
Outside of Iran, he is known as a cold-blooded killer, a manipulator, and a subversive figure looking to kill Americans wherever and whenever he can. He was great friends with Imad Mughniyeh. Imad was behind the Marine Barracks bombing near the Beirut Airport, attributed to the Islamic Jihad (another Iranian proxy). Mughniyeh also led several other attacks against Americans in Lebanon during the 1980s.
In addition, Iranians have increasingly praised Soleimani on social media, while others outside of Iran have used social media to mock his celebrity. In April 2015, Soleimani reportedly insisted that a planned Iranian film about him be canceled, while Iraqi Shiite fighters that month made a music video celebrating Soleimani. Soleimani is also featured in Battle of Persian Gulf II, a 2017 animated Iranian movie in which Soleimani-led IRGC forces defeat the U.S. Navy in a confrontation over Iran’s nuclear program.
Soleimani was killed on January 3, 2020, in a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad International Airport. Kata’ib Hezbollah leader Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, a.k.a. Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, was also killed in the strike.
The Pentagon confirmed shortly after that U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the strike because Soleimani was “actively developing plans” to attack U.S. troops and officials. The PMF blamed the United States and Israel for Soleimani and Ibrahimi’s deaths. The strike reportedly killed at least five others, including the PMF’s airport protocol officer, Mohammed Reda. The strike followed a December 31, 2019, assault on the U.S. Embassy (as mentioned above) in Baghdad by Iraqi protesters and members of KH. Protesters withdrew on January 1, 2020. U.S. leaders held the Iranian leadership responsible and promised retaliation. Ibrahimi was reportedly among the KH members involved in the assault.
A Look Back at Soleimanis Blood List for Americans
- EFP stands for Explosively Formed Projectile and is a type of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) that used a shaped charge to launch a superheated piece of metal at a target. They proved particularly effective against American armored vehicles in Iraq. The weapons, compact but potent, are deployed against armored vehicles in a way similar to traditional IEDs, but are much deadlier and more effective, Castner said.
Shaped like a coffee can but a little smaller, with a slightly concave end, the device is packed with plastic explosives that turn a copper plate into molten slugs that barrel through several inches of armor, sending molten shards tumbling through bodies and vehicle parts
- EFPs started popping up in Iraq around 2003.
- “There was zero question where they were coming from,” General Stanley McChrystal who was the JSOC commander at the time told The New Yorker. “We knew where all the factories were in Iran. The EFPs killed hundreds of Americans.”
- The Pentagon estimates that 608 American troops were killed by EFPs in Iraq between 2003 and 2011.
- Qassem Soleimani was the head of Iran’s unconventional warfare unit, Quds Force which ran the EFP campaign.
Soleimani’s Quds Force provided training and logistics to militants in Iraq, along with far-reaching EFP supply routes and factories inside the country, the history said, where knowledge and tips on their construction filled CD-ROMs circulated among bombmakers.
Many were concealed in foam blocks made to look like curbs and rocks, with a telltale indicator of a passive infrared lens peeking through that earned the nickname the “Eye of Allah” from US troops.
Iranian-backed bombmakers were also creative in their defeat of US countermeasures, Castner said.
The infrared laser, operating in a manner similar to the safety beam used for garage doors, is used to trigger the explosion. So-called “rhino” horns were attached to vehicles to set them off prematurely, but bombmakers would revise their design to account for the horns and revamp the geometry of the array to make sure the slugs passed through drivers, passenger compartments, and engines, Castner continued.
The cold-blooded killing of hundreds of antiregime demonstrators—young men and, more shocking to Iranians, women—in 2019 was the work of the IRGC and the members of the Supreme National Security Council. Revolutionary Guard commanders gathered in August 2009, after the pro-democracy Green Movement had been put down with mass arrests, rape, and murder, to review which tactics worked best against counterrevolutionary dissent. In 2017 against provincial demonstrations and this winter, when countrywide anger erupted over a reduction in gasoline subsidies, they put those discussions into action.
In a country fed up with religious dictatorship, it’s not surprising that discussions about Soleimani’s becoming president died before an American missile killed him.
In Iraq, the earliest protests among Shiite politicians against Soleimani’s heavy-handedness were in 2004; anger at Iranian meddling and religious arrogance has been growing ever since. It’s not surprising to see some Iraqis celebrate his death, or the more fearful quietly express relief.
A Double-Edged Sword?
Rumors in Iran listed Soleimani as the heir apparent to the Presidency. His popularity so meticulously built by the Theocracy was now out of the government’s control. Soleimani’s role as President combined with his walk-on-water persona would have made opposing him extremely difficult. As a Martyr, he becomes a tool forever.
Now Soleimani has become a martyr in the Islamic revolution’s 41-year battle against the U.S. The men he trained and advanced will carry on. But the supreme leader may be less bold, at least for a while. Mr. Khamenei’s close relationship with Soleimani probably revolved around the man-of-action fortifying the cleric’s more ambitious inclinations. It’s an excellent bet that Tehran’s most daring maneuvers—the foiled bombing of Iranian dissidents in Paris in June 2018, which could have killed hundreds; the attacks on shipping in the Persian Gulf and the Saudi oil facilities last year; and the repeated recent attacks on American bases in Iraq, which killed and wounded Americans—all had Soleimani’s fingerprints. He understood well the new Middle East, where weak nation-states leave citizens gravitating toward religion, sect, and tribe. Soleimani had a well-honed sense for the jugular. He understood tribal politics.