Iran's supreme leader appointed the deputy commander of the Quds Force, Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani, as the replacement for Qassem Soleimani, the former head of the elite force who was killed in a U.S. air strike on Friday, according to Fares News Agency.
In a statement on Friday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that programme of the Quds Force affiliated to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) "will be unchanged from the time of his predecessor.”
The Quds Force is the military unit responsible for projecting Iran's influence via proxies across the Middle East.
The 62-year-old Soleimani was killed in a strike by US army in Iraq. He shouldered responsibility for Iran’s selective operations abroad, such as those in Syria and Iraq.
Who is Esmail Ghaani?
Ghaani served as the Deputy Commander of the IRGC-QF. His authority covered IRGC-QF financial disbursements to IRGC-QF elements, including elements in Africa, as well as to various terrorist groups, including Hezbollah.
As Deputy Commander, Ghaani had financial oversight of the IRGC-QF weapons shipment that was intended for The Gambia.
He was born on August 8, 1957 in Mashhad, Iran.
Esmail Ghaani became deputy commander of the Quds Force, the overseas arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, in 1997 when Soleimani became the Force's chief commander.
He was quoted by Iranian media as saying in 2017 that U.S. President Donald Trump's "threats against Iran will damage America ... We have buried many ... like Trump and know how to fight against America.”
He was added on March 27, 2012 to the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list maintained by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), freezing his assets under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting transactions with U.S. parties, pursuant to Executive Order 13224, which targets terrorists and their supporters; according to OFAC, acts on behalf of or provides support to the IRGC-QF, a designated terrorist entity.