Commander of IRGC’s Qods force Qassem Soleimani (L) with Iraqi pro-Iran militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (R) in Karbala in June 2019. (Supplied)

January 24, 2020

Before his death in a US air strike in Baghdad earlier this month, Qassem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC Quds Force, was one of the notorious names in the Western media.

US newspapers have published many reports of his operations and threats to US interests and facilities in Iraq.

Soleimani has emerged since the American occupation of Iraq as a terrorist who smuggled spies, money and weapons into the country, while his agents sowed chaos and carried out operations that claimed the lives of more than 600 US soldiers.

Soleimani was in fact the open card in the IRGC’s foreign activities, but he was hiding behind an officer who is the actual mastermind of terrorist operations that have continued since mid-2010 until now.

It is Brigadier General Ahmed Foruzandeh, who rose to command the Ramazan Corps, part of the Guard’s Quds Force.

The Daily Beast magazine published on Tuesday new details of declassified documents about the role of this mysterious leader in Iraq. He was portrayed in some documents as a “shadow commander, possessed of superhuman abilities and cunning.”

Foruzandeh was included on the US sanctions list in 2007, after he plotted and commanded terrorist operations against US forces in Iraq and planned to assassinate senior Iraqi figures.

According to the documents, he also accompanied Major General Muhammad Jaafari Sahrawdi, from the Revolutionary Guards Corps, to Iraqi Kurdistan, to plan terrorist attacks there. At that time, US forces raided and arrested a number of the IRGC elements in the city of Erbil, but the two men managed to escape to Tehran.

The documents revealed by The Daily Beast noted that Foruzandeh also led the Golden Death Squad, which “targeted, approved, and carried out assassinations against Iraqis they viewed as obstacles.”

The unit, according to the report, “consists of Iranian intelligence leadership that provide guidance and funding to Iraqis that are recruited from [Jaish al-Mahdi], Badr Corps, the Al-Fadilah Party, and other Shiite Iraqi parties and militias that conduct assassination operations against former Baath party members, Iraqis that are working with the [Coalition Forces], and Iraqis that are not supporting Iranian influence in Iraq.”

In addition to the assassinations, the Ramazan Corps also smuggled Iranian weapons and trainers. Documents obtained by The Daily Beast note that the unit oversaw a “complex smuggling apparatus from Ahwaz, Iran into Iraq” that included “weapons, information, financial support, and Iranian intelligence officers.”

The money, guns, and Iranian personnel began their journey in Ahwaz and were handed off to smugglers at the border with Iraq.

Asharq Al-Awsat

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.