He’s been called “the Shadow Commander” and “Dark Night” while others called him “Mr. Fix-it”.
Qassem Soleimani, the shrewd commander of the Quds Force - the division of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps tasked with expanding the Islamic Revolution - has been praised by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for being “a living martyr of the Revolution”.
Soleimani is not a brash man and until recently refrained from being in the spotlight by not giving interviews to foreign media but he is no doubt one of the most dangerous men in the Middle East.
He was one of the IRGC officers who after the first Lebanon War in the eighties of last century founded Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite terror organization which is currently threatening Israel with approximately 140,000 missiles.
In 2011 he was designated a terrorist by the US Treasury Department over his role in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States and later again over war crimes committed in Syria during battles with rebels.
Soleimani oversaw virtually every major battle in Syria and Iraq during the civil wars there and later founded the Hashd al-Shaabi umbrella organization of predominantly Shiite militias in Iraq who were integrated into the Iraqi army at the beginning of 2018.
The commanders of Hash al-Shaabi take their orders from Soleimani, not from the Iraqi government and the Iranian-backed militias were more than instrumental in the battle which resulted in the re-conquering of territories lost to Islamic State.
The Quds commander has also overseen the major battle against rebels in Aleppo, Syria and the Qalamoun offensive where Iran reportedly is running an underground nuclear facility in the vicinity of the town of Qusayr.
More recently Soleimani interfered in the forming of a new government in Iraq after the elections in May and forced Shiite firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr into forming a coalition with pro-Iranian parties.
“Iran won’t accept the creation of a Shiite bloc that is a threat to its interests. It’s a red line,” Soleimani told reporters after his meeting with al-Sadr.
At about the same time Qassem Soleimani organized the battle against rebels in the Daraa and Quneitra Provinces in southern Syria and gave orders to attack Israel with more than 30 missiles during the night of May 10th.
That attack resulted in what was dubbed by the IDF “Operation Chess” the massive IAF assault on Iranian bases and other military facilities belonging to the Quds Force in Syria.
The Israeli operation in Syria was prepared well and came after Soleimani founded the ‘Golan Liberation Brigade’ a Shiite force led by Iraqi militia Hezbollah al-Nujaba.
“We are fully prepared to participate in any war with the Syrian Arab Army to liberate the Golan if the Syrian state agrees or requests so,” Sheikh Akram al-Ka’abi, the leader of Hezbollah al-Najuba said at the end of November 2017.
Al-Ka’abi takes his orders directly from Soleimani and said his militia would work in tandem with Lebanese Hezbollah which has thousands of fighters in Syria and is now controlling the northern Golan Heights opposite the Druze village of Magdal Shams on the Israeli Golan Heights.
“Israel will be destroyed” a banner in a video released by the ‘Golan Liberation Brigade’ read when the foundation of the new force was announced.
At the end of July, Soleimani made headlines again when he threatened the United States and warned President Donald Trump not to begin a war with Iran because the Iranian military would “end it.”
While accusing Trump of using the language of “nightclubs and gambling halls”, Soleimani said it was his duty as a soldier to respond to Trump’s threats against president Hassan Rouhani of Iran.
After Trump warned Rouhani “never ever threaten” the U.S. again the Quds commander said the President should talk to him, not to Rouhani.
“We are near you, where you can’t even imagine ... Come. We are ready. If you begin the war, we will end the war,” Soleimani was quoted as saying by state-controlled Tasnim News Agency in Iran.
Last week, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) revealed Soleimani has an Instagram account which features a graphic of the Quds Force commander using a walkie-talkie while he stands in front of an exploding White House.
“We will crush America under our feet” the caption under the graphic read.
The account also contains a photo of Soleimani delivering a speech in which he warned the “gambler Trump” not to threaten the lives of Iranians.
“Don’t threaten our lives! You are well aware of our power and capabilities in the region. You know how powerful we are in asymmetrical warfare.” Soleimani said.
MEMRI earlier reported Soleimani has an obsession with the United States and the Trump Administration in particular.
“Not a night goes by when we don't think about you in our sleep. Let me tell you, Mr. Trump, the gambler... Let me tell you... Know that we are near you, in places that don't come to your mind. We are near you in places that you can't even imagine. We are a nation of martyrdom. We are the nation of Imam Hussein. Ask around. We have endured many hardships,” the Quds Force commander said during a speech in the city of Hamedan, Iran on July 26, 2018.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month seemed to suggest Soleimani should be liquidated. "Qassem Soleimani is causing trouble throughout Iraq and Syria and we need to raise the cost for him - for his organization and for him personally," Pompeo said during a tour through the Middle East.