Qassem Suleimani

Full name: Ahmad Faraj Qassem Suleimani

DOB: 11 March 1958

Born in the Kerman province in south-east Iran, Suleimani has been chief commander of the Quds Force since 1998.

Suleimani began his revolutionary career in 1976 when he participated in demonstrations against the Shah. Suleimani joined the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in 1979, when they set up a command council in Kerman.

He fought on the front during the Iran-Iraq War between 1981-1988 and was promoted to commander of the 41st Division (Tharallah).

In 1998 Suleimani replaced Quds Force commander Ahmad Vahidi, who currently serves as Iran's Defense Minister. In 2011, Suleimani was promoted to Major-General - the same rank as IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Ja'afari. Within his role, Suleimani is involved in and authorizes all of the Quds Forces' activities, including overseas terror attacks and weapons transfers to terror and guerrilla organizations. He oversees the planning and execution of all attacks, and authorizes in particular the collection of operational intelligence in target regions, locations for attacks, and the operating methods worked out for each mission. The heads of all the regional corps are also under Suleimani's direct command, and they obtain his approval for terror and subversive activity in their respective regions.

As the architect and mastermind of Iran's regional agenda, Suleimani intensively promotes Iran's ideological objectives in the Middle East and extending them to new arenas, with a particular emphasis on striking Iran's adversaries around the world.

Suleimani's name appears on the global terror list issued by the U.S. government for his lead role in terror attacks.

Suleimani is also involved in the strategic, operational and financial aspects of strengthening the Quds Force and Iran's ties with the radical regional bloc: Syria, Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian terror organizations especially Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He is often the senior contact with heads of state and leaders of organizations in the region including Iraq, Sudan and Turkey.

Suleimani is also in regular contact with Syrian President Bashar Assad. He is responsible for weapons consignments and logistical support transferred by the Quds Force to Assad's regime that in the last several years have been used for suppressing protests and civil unrest. The Quds Force has sent instructors and advisors to Syria for these purposes. Due to Suleimani's support for the Syrian regime's suppression of protests, the European Union applied sanctions on Suleimani in June 2011.

Within Iran, Suleimani is closely connected throughout Iran's political and security leadership. He is particularly close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who trusts him and provides him with assistance and backing. Khamenei refers to him "the living shahid (martyr)" for his commitment to the values of the Islamic revolution and the Islamic Republic.

Suleimani was involved in suppressing the social protests that broke out following the Iranian presidential election in 2009. Among the steps he took was the unusual move of issuing a statement calling on the residents of his home town and power base in Kerman to maintain order.

Suleimani is among the owners of various oil and construction companies in Iran, from which he profits personally.