Profile: Who Was Qasim Sulaimani?
Iran’s elite Quds force head Qasim Soleimani was killed in a US airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq on Friday. The attack targeted a vehicle near Baghdad Airport. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, vice president of Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi group, or Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) also lost his life in the attack.
The attack took place in the wake of increasing tensions with the US after thousands of Iran-backed protesters stormed the US Embassy compound in Baghdad protesting against U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria that killed 25 fighters of Kataib Hezbollah.
Known as the mastermind of Iran’s military strategy, Qasim Soleimani was born in 1955 in Kerman province of Iran to a farmer’s family. In his childhood, he worked as a construction worker. Soleimani continued his education until high school and then worked in Kerman city municipality until the Iranian Islamic revolution in 1979.
After the Iranian revolution against the Shah succeeded, he joined the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in early 1980.
Soleimani also led an Iranian elite force known as Thar Allah 41 corps in Kerman city during the 8-year-long war. Following the war, he was promoted to be among the best ten military commanders of Iranian contingents spread across the borders with Iraq.
Soleimani was appointed commander of the Quds Force in 1998, and promoted as general.
In 2015, the Iranian commander achieved a celebrity status in Iran. Documentaries and pop songs were made on him and Shia fighters in Iraq made a video showing soldiers spray-painting his portrait on a wall.
Allegations of ‘terrorism’
The US had declared Soleimani a “terrorist and supporter of terrorism”. He was among those Iranians who were sanctioned by the UN Security Council resolution 1747. In 2011, he was accused by the US of supporting the Syrian regime by providing arms. That’s when the US imposed more sanctions on him.
Later, European sanctions were imposed on three Iranian commanders of the Revolutionary Guards including Soleimani for supporting the Assad regime.