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First Martyrdom Anniversary of Hajj Qassem Soleimani, Hajj Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and their Companions

 

The Story of the Legend – From Kerman to Palestine

The Story of the Legend – From Kerman to Palestine
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Al-Ahed EXCLUSIVE
 
Qassem Soleimani carried his heart from Kerman to Palestine, spreading the scent of victory. He liked fighting while bullets were raining down and falling asleep under walls that were shattered by war. On the way to Al-Quds, he became habituated with the Iraqi desert, the fragrance of the Levant, and the olives of the south. With mercy and compassion, he the patted the heads of orphans and bowed with humility, kissing the hands of the Mujahideen.

 
With love and longing, he cried for Imad before leaving. With pride and courage he challenged the arrogance of the criminal US administration. He was its rival in the field – a man who faced off with states, intelligence apparatuses, and armies.
 
His creed read: "'Israel' is an absolute evil". His goal was "to eradicate it from existence." On this path, the servant of the nation was a fatal arrow directed at all the projects of global arrogance.
 
Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Palestine were battlefields Hajj Qasem knew how to utilize, turning them into a lava that spewed its flame towards the Zionist-American occupier and all that branched out from them.
 
Soleimani wasn't only the master of the military arena, but prevailed in the arenas of strategic thinking and diplomacy. Wherever he went, he was the bearer of the banner of truth and victory. He never felt disappointment despite the weight of the tasks, nor was he despondent, nor did he know surrender.
 
Honor, mercy, courage, loyalty, sincerity, modesty, and sophistication, all grouped in an immortal icon, making Qasem Soleimani a legend. The name alone is pride.
 
The Beginning of the Story: From Lebanon
 
In 1998, Qasem Soleimani was appointed commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force. Around the same time, a scheduled three-month maneuver that was set to take place in the Islamic Republic to train young men belonging to Lebanon's Islamic Resistance was approaching.
 
Preparations were nearing completion, and a few days prior, the Hezbollah commander in charge of the maneuver asked those concerned for a first meeting with Soleimani. On the same day, he got what he asked for.
 
The magic of the first meeting

Less than a month had passed since Soleimani assumed his new post. The first meeting with the jihadist leader from Lebanon lasted nearly a quarter of an hour, during which they agreed that a broader meeting take place the next day.
 
At ten the next morning, the jihadist leader entered the meeting room to find Soleimani present with his entire staff – approximately nine of them concerned with this file.
 
During the meeting, the leader unveiled a unique point of view regarding tactics and methods associated with models of missiles that had a range of about 45 kilometers. That particular theory did not go along with the military theories adopted at that time, but Soleimani was listening attentively.
 
Then he resolved the issue with serious words, addressing his team: "Starting today, regarding this mission, this man (pointing to the jihadist leader) is your superior. None of you will continue with the rest of your work until he finishes his."
 
The jihadist leader who then accompanied Soleimani until his martyrdom recalls: "The psychological pressure on me was tremendous. He gave me what I could not dream of."
 
Soleimani at the maneuver and the call: "O' Abbas"
 
After three days of continuous preparations following the meeting and an agreement to try out the new method, the jihadist leader and his team head to the location of the exercise. The platforms were set up, and the time of the maneuver was arranged.
 
It was zero hour on the fourth day, and Hajj Qasem was attending in person as he arrived by plane. The jihadist leader receives him and they ride together in a military jeep visiting the young men.
 
Then, they give the order with the following Quranic verse: {In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Permission [to fight] has been given to those who are being fought, because they were wronged. And indeed, Allah is competent to give them victory.}
 
With "O Abbas" – the name of the master of the martyrs of the Islamic Resistance Sayyed Abbas Al-Mousawi – the maneuver begins during which all the required experiments were carried out. It was a success.
 
The jihadist leader tells Al-Ahed News, "It was as if a heavy load was lifted from my shoulders."
 
This was the first step on the field that Hajj Qasem took with the resistance in Lebanon. It was characterized by enthusiasm, understanding, a speedy achievement, and determination without hesitation or delay. It was clear how practical he was, with a surprising and daring strategic thought.
 
From the experience of that first meeting, the first and main outlines of Hajj Qasem's style and amazing offers were revealed. The meeting was a prototype of the future relationship between Lebanon's resistance and this great man.
 
Subsequently, he moved to Lebanon and got acquainted with the entire leaderships and familiarized himself with every detail related to the Islamic movement before and after the launch of the resistance. He contacted and met everyone the resistance could benefit from. In the successive stages, all activities were characterized by the same gravity and effectiveness as that first step as well as relentless follow-ups. They remained that way in the years that followed. He asked about every small and big thing.
 
The jihadi leader summarizes the experience of the first meeting with Commander Soleimani with brief remarks:
 
-       His quick understanding of the topic and its value. His boldness and his willingness to take risks immediately, without any delay, even if he violated some of the principles and was criticized by some of the people with experience.
 
-       The depth of his strategic thinking. He had envisioned from the first meeting that success there would bring about a fundamental shift in the level of conflict – from small groups of modest organization and ability in limited confrontations to a completely different situation. He saw the future and lived it. Before the first meeting, the missile capability did not exceed 20km. After it, we moved to a different position that he knew and believed in as if he saw it – from a limited number of missiles not exceeding 20km to missiles with a range that reached Eilat.
 
From 2000 to 2006: reversing the image
 
A few years passed between that first meeting and 2006, when Hajj Qasem shaped an extraordinary development in building the capabilities of the resistance in terms of size, durability, and strength to counter the “Israeli” military. He reversed the prevailing image that spanned the many decades between1948 until 2006.
 
Prior to the year 2000 and after it, Hajj Qasem was able to transform Hezbollah into a force that was as hazardous as conventional armies during the July 2006 war. Despite developing its army's capabilities – 33 years (from 1973 until 2006) of relentless pursuit supported by most global powers, led by America – “Israel” was defeated within 33 days and failed to achieve its objectives.

Within a few years, the Islamic Resistance became a capable force thanks to Hajj Qasem's efforts, boldness, and strategic vision, as well as the opportunities and services that he provided in terms of training and quality weapons such as the Kornet (one of the most important weapons that helped change the course of the war). The resistance would not have acquired this weapon had it not been for Hajj Soleimani – and the surface-to-surface missiles that hit Sa'ar and others and weakened the "Israeli" naval force.
 
Hajj Qasem believed in these accomplishments before they were even achieved. He saw it with his enlightened strategic thinking and his reliance on God.
 
The jihadist leader evokes some of Hajj Qasem's style of work: "He had an exceptional personality and worked in a unique way; he moved as if he were a group of people, like copies working, and each copy moved with unparalleled diligence and perseverance. Hajj Qasem was a group of effective figures."
 
While he worked with the resistance in Lebanon, his heart was with Palestine and Al-Quds. It was his secret, and he was the commander of its brigade.

The heart's compass is pointing towards Palestine
 
Before the "Israeli" withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000 and while the "Israeli" army was pondering the closure of the Lebanon front believing that it would stop the bleeding of this wound, Hajj Qasem was thinking about activating work in Palestine. Thus, he began to open another wound.
 
The jihadist leader tells Al-Ahed about some of Hajj Qasem's creativity on the Palestinian arena.

"Work inside Palestine existed on a certain level, and then we started with Hajj Qasem to look for suitable figures, regardless of their experience, age, and affiliation, for anyone with the readiness and willingness to fight and carry out any activity against the usurper entity in the Palestinian arena. Without paying attention to any political, religious, or regional description or formation, the search was focused solely on preparedness, and we opened up to all the existing factions, even to small groups."
 
Hajj Qasem dealt with everyone. He saw no difference between extremist Islamic organizations, secular organizations, atheist organizations, and even small and medium groups. There was only one rule: hostility towards the occupation forces and America.
 
This was the start. Hajj Qasem's course of action focused on several avenues. The first was to secure the human factor. The second was to advance the level of training and pass on the Lebanese experience. The third was to improve armament. For the sake of Al-Quds, Hajj was so generous. He crossed all paths in order to deliver weapons of any value to occupied Palestine. Hajj spared nothing for this purpose, even resorting to the sea route. He hauled large quantities of weapons across the sea on buoys to reach Gaza by gauging the direction of the wind and sea currents, despite knowing that a sizable portion of the weapons wouldn't make it to the final destination.
 
Since 2000, work began on the production of hand-made missiles in the occupied territories that could be utilized in Palestine. The missile range inside the Palestinian territories did not need to be the same as that of the resistance in Lebanon. In Palestine, short-range missiles are sufficient and effective. In the West Bank, for example, you only need hundreds of meters to reach the occupied depth.
 
According to the jihadist leader, "In addition to financial support, work on all these levels was parallel and gradual. There was no faction that did not support all these lines, even the factions with low activity. Hajj Soleimani went to everyone and energized the weak factions, and he deliberately developed the strong factions and supported them with all capabilities. There was no Palestinian force that he did not go to. He tried repeatedly with everyone without despair or boredom, without exception, and with what he had available despite the difficulties in delivering financial support. As for securing weapons, it was very difficult."
 
A special scientific team was formed to design easy-to-manufacture missiles to suit the Palestinian resistance, and factories were supported in the occupied territories, including Gaza and the West Bank, to manufacture these missiles. All the experience of the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon in the manufacturing of explosive devices and combat tactics were also shared.
 
Hajj Qasem supervised the production of more than 70 films on training, ambushes, the use of heavy and light weapons, the manufacturing of explosives, and military plans. They contained all the minute details as well as anything that comes to a fighter's mind, down to the manufacturing of remote detonation devices, explosive devices, and methods of detonation that were studied by competent specialists.
 
Hajj Qasem did not care about fatigue, effort, and costs. He only asked about the results. His sole concern was the end result. These efforts shook "Israel" and put it under the pressure of operations, the killings, the injuries, and the confusion. The entity admitted that losses inflicted by the Palestinian resistance exceeded 1700 dead "Israeli" soldiers and more than 7500 wounded.
 
The "Israelis" wanted, through its withdrawal from Gaza, to get rid of the losses and the attrition. Yet, it became the occupation's most complex problem. "Israel" later launched the 2008 war to eliminate the resistance, which went on for 42 days without achieving any of the objectives. Then, it launched the second and third wars on Gaza in 2012 and 2014, but it could not achieve its objectives of breaking the resistance or weakening its capabilities. Rather, the capabilities of the resistance in Gaza continued to flourish and expand until it was able to manufacture missiles with a range exceeding 120 km. Gaza that has an area of 376 km bombed Tel Aviv three times in one year, and in three wars, it managed to defeat the invincible army.
 
Hajj Qasem Soleimani followed up on all the details, both small and large, continuously and carefully. He even used to meet with small groups, go to training camps, visit resistance officials in their homes, and invite those who could to visit Iran. Many of the trainees and officials went to Iran.
 
The jihadist leader summarizes Hajj Qasem's approach in Palestine: "The most obvious characteristic of Hajj Qasem was the comprehensiveness of his enmity, his circle of enmity included all those who were hostile to 'Israel' and America, everyone who believed in the injustice that befell Al-Quds, without paying attention to anything else. Only Palestine and Al-Quds are the criteria and the center."
 
Iraq: Between the military and politics
 
The Iraqi battlefield was not transient in Soleimani's calculations, especially since it shared a border and historical links with the Islamic Republic of Iran. With the American occupation of Iraq, Hajj Qasem activated his activities with a number of Iraqis in Iran. Then, with the same momentum, method, and thrust that he had when working with the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine, he communicated with any front that could work against the American occupation.
 
Commander Soleimani created a communication network in all the Iraqi provinces with figures and leaders, in addition existing factions at the time. He dealt with them and others, and his activities extended and branched out to reach every believer in resisting the American occupation.
 
Since the first week of the US occupation and before the fall of Baghdad, training as well as both financial and military aid began overlapping and increasing. He was supportive of the Iraqi resistance in the face of the occupier in various fields, until the American occupation wished for a withdrawal with minimal losses. With the help of Hajj Qasem, the Iraqi resistance developed extensive capabilities even in manufacturing missiles. Despite the difficult circumstances during the US occupation, he would send cadres and trainers from outside Iraq to pass on expertise and experience. These cadres would stay there to follow up, help, take part as much as possible, and spread throughout different areas and among groups until the Americans left defeated. Then, the Takfiri attack took place, and the militants took control of large parts of Iraqi lands all at once.
 
Direct presence in the battlefield
 
The jihadist leader that always accompanied Hajj Qasem tells Al-Ahed that "as soon as the capture of some Iraqi provinces in the Takfiri invasion was announced, Hajj Qasem was on the ground, just as he did with the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine. He did not only request reports, communications, or waited for developments. From the start, he went to Iraq on his own and with the cadres he knew began searching for people who were ready. He drove in his car from one governorate to another and formed the first groups and cells. Then, the religious authority issued the fatwa, broadening the work and creating the need to redouble efforts."
 
Sleeping under demolished walls
 
Soleimani was on all the battlefields and fronts, on the ground, among the fighters, arming them and planning for a very large number of factions. He was even at the frontline during the implementation. He scouted the dangerous areas himself.
 
The jihadist leader says, "if he gave an order to implement something and tell the workers I want it tomorrow, he would not be satisfied with only asking. From the time he gave the order until the next day, he'd repeatedly call to confirm the progress and insist on it, even if he had information that the work will be done. Even though Hajj Qasem was already appearing in the media and the center of his activity, its importance, and the danger surrounding him was known, he risked it all to be close to the front and accompany the many fighters. He, for example, would be among four or five thousand fighters with all their heavy and light weapons for hours on end. Everyone approached him with their weapons to take pictures. He would chat with everyone, young and old, open up social topics, advise them, ask about the wellbeing of those around him, joke with them, and sit with them on the dirt."

Commander Soleimani would spend time humbly among thousands of armed men, without detailed information about them or a serious background check. The battlefields bore witness to the Quds Force commander sleeping in tents on the fronts or in rooms destroyed by war, under crumbling walls, in an area vulnerable to bombing. During major attacks, he'd be with operatives carrying his walkie-talkie, calling: 'Where are you? Why are you late? What did you do? What do you need? Is there a problem? When you're done, continue in this direction! Coordinate with so-and-so and go with so-and-so to such-and-such place.' All the while, he'd be surrounded by voices an noise, with some interrupting him asking for vehicles, ammunition, weapons, money and others objecting to their location or equipment. Hajj Qasem followed up on all these closely without neglecting a single detail or a request, be it big or small.

Between war and politics

In addition to the military role, Hajj Qasem also had a political role. He followed up on figures and their parties, officials, leaders, deputies, and ministers. He moved from one place to another by car. He was in any area that needed Hajj Qasem. He was in any area that was facing a problem. If there were two areas that required his presence at the same time, he would be in the first area while following up on what was happening in the second via walkie-talkie. He was quick when moving from one place to another along the line of contact, without any reservation or protection. Figures used to go to Hajj Qasem in terrifying convoys, with dozens of cars and a huge number of armed guards, while he'd be in his car and another driving his assistants. He would often be outside the car without protection.

The Takfiri war ended and the fronts cooled down, but Hajj Qasem continued to pursue this arduous political process, which, according to the jihadist leader, may have been one of Hajj Qasem's biggest challenges.

It was "more difficult than the battlefield due to its danger. His continuously pursued political consensus, reunification, calm, reconciliation, meeting efforts, and resolving outstanding disputes between political parties and figures. In addition, he followed up on people's social needs, helped to overcome poverty and destitution, and solved people's life problems as much as he could."
 
In a single night, Hajj Qasem would travel along the axes, from Iraq to Syria and Lebanon and vice versa. He even held some of his meetings on the plane or in the airport to save time.
 
Military action and cultural work
 
Hajj Qasem was not only a pioneer in military action, but also in cultural and intellectual work. He was one of the pioneers of unity, absolutely and decisively rejecting all talk about sectarianism or ideological affiliation. His rhetoric was all about the awakening of the people and their resistance to the arrogant hegemony. He gathered all efforts and capabilities for this common denominator.
 
During the years of the so-called Arab Spring, Hajj Qasem formed committees from all countries of the Arab world, in relations that extended, intertwined, and expanded to include all lovers and workers in the resistance. He held awakening conferences and followed up on their details, and most of the invitees were chosen by the commander of the Quds Force.
 
Hundreds of delegations that were formed from across the Arab and Islamic worlds flocked to Tehran. Hajj Qasem touched base with them on a regular basis, as well as all the liberation movements, regardless of affiliation and identity.
 
Regarding the media, Soleimani was also active. He helped the liberation forces maintain their satellite and electronic media outlets. For this, he founded more than 150 media institutions. He formed international human rights committees and associations despite the difficulties and without being pro-Western or pro-America.
 
He also worked on the humanitarian level – providing social support, helping the oppressed classes, and providing social assistance. In terms of healthcare, he also helped establish health centers and took many wounded people from all places of conflict to Iran. This humanitarian leader would visit them, check up on them in hospitals, and follow up on their health situation.
 
Hajj Qassem excelled in creating a new school, in which he relied on the movement of people. He posed new threats to the enemies, raising the level of hostility, and broadening the challenges, and the conflict with the Americans.
 
The Final Scene
 
His military exceptionalism and planning also extend to a spiritual dimension. A jihadi companion of his says that the spirituality of Hajj Qasem is very close to that of the martyr Sayyed Abbas Al-Mousawi, as both of them are not from "the people of the earth, but from the people of heaven."
 
"May your horror reign" was a phrase that preceded Hajj Qasem whenever he appeared on the battlefield, causing fear in the hearts of the enemies. This dread soon changed into intense mercy and friendliness when dealing with the mujahideen. When the martyrs were mentioned, tears gushed from his eyes. Hajj Qasem was very attached to Imam Hussain (PBUH). In his spare time, he'd ask a scholar to tell him about the Imam (PBUH) or to recite a verse of solace. His spiritual program, despite the many concerns, was full of supplications between prayers and recitation of the Qur'an. He also had a special Tasbih. For example, he regularly recited Surat al-Tawhid 250 times a day.
 
The legend who lived through danger and became familiar with it, did not pay any attention to it or fear it. In his final days, specifically on the Saturday that preceded the sinful assassination, Hajj Qasem was so tired that those close to him tried to persuade him to go to the hospital or accept to see a doctor, but he refused. With regretful words, he said: "It seems that Imam Hussain's (PBUH) table spread is completed, and we missed our chance."
 
In his letter to his daughter Fatima, Qasem Soleimani addresses his death as a lover exhausted by passion, "My dear, my beauty, where are you? I miss you."
 
Then, he goes on to describe his last absence as if he was writing the scenario of the scene. "When I am being blown up, my existence is completely removed. My presence is turned into smoke and burns. How beautiful this scene is! How I love this moment! Sacrificing one's soul for the sake of love is so beautiful."
 
It is the path of love that Hajj Qasem walked on, leaving millions of people with an image that causes heartache and heartbreak – his severed hand on Iraqi soil summarizes the story of the legend from Kerman … to Palestine.

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