Masked man hitting poster of Qassem Soleimani with a shoe (© AP Images)
An Iraqi protester hits an image of Qassem Soleimani with his shoe during a November 2019 anti-Iran demonstration in Baghdad. Soleimani exported violence for decades. (© AP Images)

The senior Iranian military general Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike on January 2, exported terrorism and fueled sectarian violence for decades, causing the deaths of thousands of people.

Since 1998, Soleimani had led Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps–Quds Force (IRGC-QF) in planning and executing terrorist attacks and arming the Iranian regime’s proxy fighters in a half dozen countries, including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Yemen and Afghanistan.

Soleimani personally directed and provided arms to Iranian-backed terrorists in Iraq for more than a decade. His most recent plans were attacks on U.S. coalition forces in Iraq, including the December 31 attack on the embassy, where written on the wall was “Soleimani is our leader.” With Soleimani’s support and lethal assistance, the IRGC-QF targeted and killed more than 600 Americans between 2003 and 2011.

“He was actively plotting in the region to take actions — a big action, as he described it — that would have put dozens, if not hundreds, of American lives at risk,” U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo told CNN January 3. “We know it was imminent.”

The U.S. designated Soleimani a global terrorist in 2011. In April 2019, the U.S. took the unprecedented step of designating the IRGC-QF a foreign terrorist organization, the first time that part of another government had received that designation.

For more than a decade, Soleimani trained and armed Iraqi terrorists who undermined the sovereignty of the Iraqi government and deprived its citizens of a stable living environment. Since October, thousands of Iraqi protesters have taken to the streets and decried Iran’s influence in their country.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, Soleimani “had orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months — including the attack on December 27th — culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel.”

“General Soleimani also approved the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that took place this week,” the statement adds.

Qassem Soleimani surrounded by people in uniform (© Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/AP Images)
General Qassem Soleimani (center), the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, attends a meeting September 18, 2016, in Tehran, Iran. (© Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/AP Images)

Soleimani’s recent travels to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to direct proxy groups’ attacks that routinely kill civilians violates a United Nations Security Council Resolution banning him from international travel.

“General Qassem Soleimani has killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more,” President Trump said in a tweet. “While Iran will never be able to properly admit it, Soleimani was both hated and feared within the country.”