Who was Qasem Soleimani?

Politics

(NewsNation) — An Iranian national was charged in a murder-for-hire plot against former National Security Adviser John Bolton, allegedly in retaliation for the U.S. killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

Just who was Soleimani?

Killed in an airstrike at a Baghdad, Iraq, airport Jan. 3, 2020, Soleimani was the top commander of Iran’s paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. He headed the elite Quds Force and was in charge of operations in the Middle East.

The 62-year-old was revered in Iran and was considered by some as the second most powerful figure in the country, behind Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Following Soleimani’s death, Khamenei said “severe revenge awaits the criminals” behind the attack.

As a civilian, Soleimani was a construction worker; he joined the IRGC in 1979. He ascended the ranks over the next two decades, and after fighting in the Iran-Iraq War during the 1980s was appointed chief of the elite Quds Force in late 1997 or early 1998.

Following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, Soleimani directed diplomats to aid the U.S. effort against the Taliban, according to a New Yorker profile of him. Still, he was designated a terrorist and sanctioned by the United States in 2005.

During the 2010s, he played major roles in conflicts across the Middle East, including giving assistance to Hezbollah in Lebanon and bolstering the government of Syria during that country’s civil war. He ran Iran’s operations in the Syrian Civil War and helped organize Russia’s intervention in Syria.

When the Islamic State terrorist group began operations in Iraq in 2014, Soleimani was one of the first to intervene, providing weapons to Kurdish forces.

In essence, Soleimani was a kingmaker in the Middle East for more than two decades. Nicknamed “The Shadow Commander,” Soleimani was considered “the international face of resistance,” Khamenei said after his death.

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