The commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC) Quds Force– Qassem Soleimani – continues to remain actively involved in promoting the Islamic Republic's regional expansion and terrorist networks, according to an extensive report compiled by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.
Click here to see the full report.
As the head of the Quds Force – the most powerful security organization in Iran –Soleimani is directly tasked with maintaining the fundamentalist regime in power and is responsible for exploiting Arab World turmoil in recent years to advance Iran's regional hegemonic objectives. From September 2015, Iran increased its number of troops - mainly IRGC soldiers - in Syria from hundreds to thousands, to support Hizballah terrorists acting at Iran's behest in propping up the Bashaar Assad regime.
In October 2015, Soleimani reportedly landed in northwestern Syria to brief Hizballah operatives and command a Syrian military offensive, indicating that Iran is diverting more resources from its presence in Iraq to Syria.
Despite Iran's commitment to Syria, the Islamic Republic is actively establishing terrorist networks in the Golan Heights – using Hizballah, Druze, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operatives - to target Israel.
Emphasizing growing concern over Iranian terror bases on the Jewish state's borders, Israel allegedly conducted an airstrike targeting a convoy of Hizballah and Iranian operatives in January 2015, killing Jihad Mughniyeh – son of slain Hizballah leader Imad Mughinyeh – and a senior IRGC general in the Golan Heights.
In August 2015, PIJ terrorists, reportedly under Iran's direction, fired four rockets at Israeli territory, signalling the first missile attack striking the Upper Galilee from the Syrian Golan Heights since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In fact, since the 1990s, the Quds Force has invested significant resources in supporting Palestinian terrorist organizations, smuggling weapons into the West Bank and Gaza, and ordering attacks against Israel.
Since the end of 2006 war in Lebanon, the Quds Force also played a vital role in rebuilding Hizballah's terrorist infrastructure, helping the terrorist organization amass an arsenal of over 100,000 rockets, including precision guided missiles that can strike any target in Israel. Iran's continued support to Hezbollah also includes sophisticated air defense systems and anti-ship missiles.
The Israeli report assumes that the Quds Force directly oversees the ongoing transfer of advanced weapons from Iran through Syria to Lebanon, despite the Islamic Republic's overwhelming commitment to ensure Assad's survival amid an intensifying civil war.
Iran has also attempted to infiltrate intelligence agents into Israel. In September 2013, Ali Mansouri – under direction from the Quds Force - was detained at Ben Gurion International Airport and found to be in possession of pictures of important sites in Israel, such as its international airport and the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv.
In the past, Soleimani's Quds Force was responsible for financing most of the Iraqi Shi'ite militias and providing them with weapons to specifically target American soldiers. With Hizballah's assistance, the Quds Force supplied terrorists with powerful explosive devices that killed numerous American and coalition troops in Iraq.
After Iran and the West signed the nuclear agreement, Soleimani and the Quds Force were featured on a list of Iranian personnel and institutions that may be relieved of previously imposed international sanctions. Despite initial denials, the U.S. administration confirmed that Soleimani's name would be removed from the list of UN Security Council sanctioned individuals, eight years following the nuclear deal's signing. Adding to the confusion, the U.S. Treasury Department insisted that Soleimani will remain sanctioned in light of his ongoing involvement in terrorist activity.
Nevertheless, the Iranian commander's recent trip to Russia to coordinate both countries efforts in Syria emphasizes the difficulty in enforcing personal sanctions.
Critics of the nuclear deal argue that ensuing sanctions relief will encourage Iran to enhance its regional expansion and global state sponsorship of terrorism.