They called him the ‘shadow commander’

January 2, 2022 - 22:30

TEHRAN-- Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani was described as a very humble, polite and pious individual. He was admired in Iran and beyond. As more images slowly emerged from the battlefields in Iraq and Syria where he spent the latter years of his life as a military advisor in the fight against terror, the most striking thing was that he wore no body armor.

For someone who commanded the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps many had expected to see him in full body armor, just like American generals when they ventured outside a military base. Yet here General Soleimani was seen only on the front lines unarmed, wearing a simple shirt or a jacket in the winter seasons. 

He was fearless like a lion. A proverb says “when the hyenas are laughing, know that a lion has died”. 

That is exactly what happened, when some hyenas staged the most cowardly of assassinations, some in the Pentagon, Tel Aviv along with all terror groups in West Asia laughed; for a lion had been martyred. 

They could not reach nor keep track of General Soleimani in the region, which earned him the nickname the shadow commander; for decades he foiled American and Israeli plots in West Asia. Many around the world who focused on the region were fascinated by him, yet in lead up to the 2016 presidential election, former President Donald Trump, when asked about General Soleimani, had absolutely no idea who he was. 

When Israel waged a war on Lebanon he was in southern Lebanon and helped the Lebanese Hezbollah turn the 2006 war into Israel’s biggest military failure in history books. The resistance movement took Israel by surprise not once but multiple times. The regime’s tanks went up in flames with Kornet missiles that nobody knew Hezbollah had in their possession. Israeli helicopters fell and their warship sank off the coast of Beirut. 

According to now retired General David Petraeus who commanded U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and led the troop surge in Iraq in 2007, he received a letter saying “General Petraeus, you should know that I, Qassem Soleimani, control the policy for Iran when it comes to Iraq and also Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Afghanistan”. 

What General Soleimani did in those countries and beyond was to bring honor, pride, dignity, sovereignty and freedom back to the people. In Iraq and Syria, he spearheaded the fight against the most brutal, lethal and sophisticated of terror organizations to date, Daesh and Nusra Front, among others. Takfiri groups that officials in Iraq and Syria accuse America of supporting, arming and some in the Persian Gulf of funding with billions of dollars. 

American military commanders predicted that it would take ten years for Iraq’s armed forces to fully liberate its land from the terrorists, but General Soleimani who led a team of Iranian military advisors, at the invitation of the Iraqi government, had other plans. 

After the fall of the northern city of Mosul and large swathes of the country to Daesh under the U.S. trained Iraqi army, Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Sistani issued a Fatwa from the southern holy Iraqi city of Najaf in the summer of 2014 for volunteers who are capable of handling a weapon to take up arms and help halt the advance of Daesh terrorists further south towards Baghdad and the southern provinces. 

The terrorists had reached the town of Jurf al-Sakhr, just dozens of kilometers away from Baghdad. 

Had it not been for the timely involvement of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani who opened neighboring Iran’s weapons’ depot to the new recruits that would go on to form the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), and provided them with training, experts say all of Iraq would have collapsed to Daesh. 

This is while the United States delayed the delivery of much needed weaponry that Iraq had already paid for by many months. 

One of the most popular battles that General Soleimani and his brother-in-arms Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis (who was assassinated alongside General Soleimani) spearheaded was breaking the difficult siege of Amerli. A town surrounded by Daesh terrorists, Amerli had around 20 thousand Shia Turkmen families inside who had put up an extremely brave armed resistance against the terrorists. 

However, their ammunition was running low and so was their access to food and water. Daesh had cornered them and it was widely expected if Daesh had entered the town, the terror group would have slaughtered all the men and taken the women and girls captive. 

Many Iraqi officials with the Popular Mobilization Units praised the residents of Amerli, comparing their plight and resistance to the battle of Karbala some 1400 years ago.

General Soleimani and the commander of Kataib Hezbollah (a PMU faction), Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis devised a plan that saw 50 armed Kataib Hezbollah fighters parachute down from a helicopter into the town. They chose a point where other fighters of the Kataib Hezbollah brigade ambushed a group of Daesh terrorists. Together, those from the inside and from the outside fought the terrorists and managed to break the siege. 20,000 residents who were about to be murdered and their women no doubt taken captive were saved. 

Emotional footage immediately after breaking the siege of Amerli saw tears of joy by Kataib Hezbollah commanders, including Abu Fadek (who replaced Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis after the latter’s martyrdom) being embraced by General Soleimani. 

So many popular battles in Iraq involved the late General. In an interview, Lebanese Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said General Soleimani took a flight from Baghdad to Damascus then another to Beirut and reached Sayyed Nasrallah’s residence at midnight. The Hezbollah leader says “in the 22 years that I knew General Soleimani, he or the Islamic Republic of Iran, never requested, something from us once”. However, in the middle of that night, General Soleimani told Sayyed Nasrallah “I need 120 military advisors to take back on a flight to Baghdad by sunrise after morning prayers”.

Sayyed Nasrallah, smiling as he recalls telling General Soleimani, “where am I going to get 120 military field commanders at this time of night?”. He says General Soleimani told him “we have no choice, if we want to save the Iraqi nation, its holy sites, its seminaries and the whole situation going on there right now, I don’t want any fighters, just advisors to train the Iraqis”.   

The martyr General stayed with Sayyed Nasrallah as they called the Hezbollah generals one by one until they got hold of about 50 to 60 of them. And Sayyed Nasrallah says General Soleimani “did not leave without an assurance from me that I would send the others within two or three days”. 

Sayyed Nasrallah goes on to recall “that night I felt that the whole world for General Soleimani was Iraq and that battle against Daesh in Iraq, he considered that battle a decisive one and was ready to die in that battle.” 

Sayyed Nasrallah also questioned General Soleimani about a trip he made to the northern Iraqi city of Samarah, saying “that was very dangerous”. And according to Sayyed Nasrallah, General Soleimani replied “there was no other option, I had to move north so the brothers could follow suit”. 

“He was very affected by what was happening in Iraq... and he was ready to die in Iraq (in the battle against Daesh terrorists) a thousand times,” Sayyed Nasrallah says. 

In a speech commemorating the martyrdom of General Soleimani, Sayyed Nasrallah says “he spent many nights crying when he remembered the martyrs [who died fighting former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s imposed war on Iran]; in many meeting with myself, he told me ‘My heart is tired with this world and I am eager to meet Allah and the martyrs who have passed away’”.

Against terrorists in Syria, footage showing security forces telling him not to advance forward, he responded saying “are we scared of a few bullets”, and proceeded to advance to the battle line. 

Those who knew the war hero well say he had a special charisma. During meetings with high-ranking military commanders, he sat only listening and when he spoke the room fell into silence. 

His eagerness to gain the status of martyrdom was fulfilled. 

Congratulations to Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani for attaining this great martyrdom.

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