During the eight-year Iraq-Iran war, Esmail Ghaani was the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) divisions Nasr-5 and Imam Reza -21, playing a pivotal role in the war, according to the official IRNA news agency. Ghaani had also taken the command of several operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei appointed on Friday Brigadier General Ghaani as the successor of Lieutenant General Qasem Soleimani, Iran’s major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, after being killed by an American drone strike.
“You will see the bodies of Americans all over the Middle East,” Ghaani threatened a few hours after he took the position of the Quds Force Commander.
Born in the north-eastern city of Mashhad, 61-year-old Ghaani joined the IRGC in 1980 at the age of 20, to receive his military training in a military garrison, currently known as the Imam Ali garrison, in the capital Tehran in 1981.
Ghaani had served as Soleimani’s deputy in 1997 since the latter took the lead of the Quds Force, alleging that the Quds Force’s tactics won’t change under its new chief.
In one of his interviews, Ghaani said that the US and Zionist regime are much weaker to compete with Iran’s military, adding that Iran’s power “is today apparent in the form of weapons and missiles in the hands of the oppressed people of Palestine and Gaza.”
As deputy, Ghaani was reportedly tasked in overseeing financial disbursements to militant groups backed by Iran, including Hezbollah. In 2012, he was added to the US’s terrorists list called Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons, freezing his assets and prohibiting transactions with American entities, according to American reports.
On 27 May 2012, Ghaani was quoted by the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) as saying, “thanks to Iran’s presence in Syria, physically and non-physically, big massacres were prevented”
He said that if the Islamic republic had not been present in Syria, the massacre of its people would have multiplied. The interview was deleted from ISNA’s site within hours. However, bloggers managed to save a cached copy and also a screen grab of the interview, according to Radio Liberty.