(PresidentialInsider.com)- Israel’s former chief of military intelligence appeared to acknowledge that Israel was involved in the American airstrike that took out Qassem Soleimani in January 2020.
Major General Tamir Hayman, who headed up Israeli military intelligence until October, said in the November issue of a Hebrew-language magazine that Soleimani’s assassination was one of two “significant and important assassinations during my term.” Hayman said of the Soleimani strike that it is rare to locate a target so senior.
While Hayman is the first Israeli official to offer acknowledgment, there were news reports both at the time and later that Israel provided intelligence to the US before the strike.
A week after the US strike on Soleimani, NBC News reported that Israeli intelligence confirmed the details of Soleimani’s flight from Damascus to Baghdad. Earlier this year, it was reported that Israel provided intelligence to the United States that allowed the US to carry out the strike. Hayman’s remarks appear to confirm these previous reports.
Qassem Soleimani led the elite Quds Force within the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. As Quds Force commander, Soleimani orchestrated Iran’s involvement with paramilitary groups abroad. The US killed Soleimani in a drone strike at the Baghdad airport in January 2020.
According to the January 2020 report from NBC News, a tip from informants at the airport in Damascus gave the CIA the information they needed to track Soleimani’s movements. Israeli intelligence offered confirmation of the tip.
US intelligence operatives at Baghdad’s airport confirmed Soleimani’s whereabouts and three US drones moved into position. Live drone footage, observed by US officials in real-time, showed Soleimani deplane and greet the leader of Iraq’s Quds Force. They and their party then got into sedans and left the airport while the drones tracked them overhead.
Thanks to Israel providing the US with Soleimani’s numbers, signals intelligence was able to confirm his identity by honing in on his cellphone.
With the identities of the sedans’ occupants confirmed, US CentCom forward headquarters in Qatar ordered the strike. Four missiles were fired and the vehicles were destroyed.