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Obituary: Qassem Suleimani was assassinated on January 3rd

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The mastermind of Iranian expansion, destruction and killing was 62

For a man whose reputation was shadowy and clandestine, Qassem Suleimani sometimes made himself startlingly visible. He climbed up on the flatbeds of army trucks in Syria, exhorting crowds of weary fighters. He posed smiling beside rocket-launchers in Iraq, finger on the trigger. He responded to Donald Trump’s Twitter threats against Iran by calling him a gambler and a bartender, urging him to come on and find out, the hard way, who the real men were in this showdown. His Instagram account showed him ordering a missile strike against the White House with the slogan, in English: “We will crush the usa under our feet.”

He had earned his shadow reputation in other ways. His habit of glancing downward, carefully, his eyes slightly hooded under thick brows, which could set his interlocutors trembling. His wish to sit alone at meetings, his silences in conversations, and his simple words, as if he was ordinary. That befitted him as a peasant’s son from the mountains near Afghanistan, whose most vivid childhood memory was straining his puny body on a building site to earn enough money to clear his father’s debts. And it befitted him, too, as the head after 1998 of the Quds Force, the elite arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, where he masterminded Iran’s ever-widening circle of influence, destruction and killing.

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