Israel had advance notice of the U.S. plan to eliminate General Qassem Suleimani, Israeli military and diplomatic analysts reported while abstaining from presenting further details.
Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, was killed in an airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport Friday. General Soleimani was apparently on the top-hit list anti-Iran forces and Soleimani himself knew he would be targetted one day.
“Our assessment is that Washington intimated Israel about this operation in Iraq, possibly a few days ago,” Barak Ravid, a journalist, and commentator with deep sources in the Israeli security establishment said on Channel 13.
An Israeli army officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not have the authorization to speak to reporters, told the Los Angeles Times that the attack on Suleimani “did not come as a surprise.” The reactions of Israel to Suleimani’s assassination were mostly positive, though deep concern was registered throughout the leadership.
The strike on Suleimani also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF, the officials said. Their deaths are a possible turning point in the Middle East and are anticipated to draw harsh vengeance from Iran and the forces it backs in the Middle East against Israel and American interests.
Earlier, Yossi Cohen, who is the director of the Israeli spy agency Mossad, has acknowledged having a “prestigious” assassination list at his disposal, claiming that targeting foreign influential figures, including Iran’s Major General Qassem Soleimani, is “not impossible.”
Choen went to say – “He knows very well that his assassination is not impossible. His actions are identified and felt everywhere… there’s no doubt the infrastructure he built presents a serious challenge for Israel.”
Cohen also commented that Nasrallah “knows we have the option of eliminating him” but did not answer when asked why Israel does not do so. The Times of Israel published the remarks on October 11.
The New York Times had earlier revealed a March 2017 meeting in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, in which top Saudi intelligence officials close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman asked a small group of businessmen last year about using private companies to assassinate Iranian enemies of the kingdom.
The intelligence unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said it had last year thwarted an Arab-Israeli plot to assassinate General Soleimani, who commands the IRGC’s Quds Force, in the southeastern Iranian province of Kerman.