Iran’s expeditionary Quds Force announced a new leader this weekend hours after General Qassem Soleimani was killed during an airstrike ordered by President Trump.
The Quds Force is an elite branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that works with armed groups in other countries to further Tehran’s reach. Partners include Hezbollah, Shiite militias in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Houthi rebels, and possibly the Taliban.
The IRGC is a military force separate from the regular army that reports directly to Iran’s Supreme Leader; its primary function is to protect Iran’s Islamic government.
The IRGC and Quds Force were labeled terrorist organizations by the United States last year.
Assuming leadership of the Quds Force as it vows revenge for Soleimani’s death is Esmail Ghaani, 62, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war who once claimed the United States would have “burned the whole region” if there were no Islamic Republic.
Ghaani joined the IRGC in 1980 and was an early recruit to the Quds Force. He was appointed Deputy Commander of the Quds Force in 1997, a role that gave him control over financial disbursements to foreign allies.
In 2007, President George W. Bush claimed the Quds Force sold weapons to Shia militants to be used against American forces. Four years later, the Quds Force sent operatives to Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad.
“What Quds does is very specialized, the most dangerous work, operating underground,” says Mahan Abedin, an Iran expert at the London-based Center for the Study of Terrorism.
Ghaani has been on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) list since 2012. This Friday, he warned there would soon be “bodies of Americans all over the Middle East.”
Editor’s note: Quds will likely not slow down too much, but at least one evil genius is finally dead.