Israel gave the US access to multiple cellphone numbers for former top Iranian official Qasem Soleimani to help enable his assassination in January 2020, Yahoo News reported on Saturday night. Soleimani was the former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force chief.
The Jerusalem Post has previously reported that Israel’s role in the assassination was far greater than had been revealed.
For example, according to foreign reports, Israel was instrumental in keeping the idea of removing Soleimani as an option despite resistance by some of the US defense establishment. Internal US debates are described in the Yahoo article.
Soleimani’s vehicle and a second accompanying vehicle were destroyed by US drones after he flew into Iraq from Damascus.
According to Yahoo News, “in the six hours before Soleimani boarded his flight from Damascus, the Iranian general switched cellphones three times, according to a US military official.”
“In Tel Aviv, US Joint Special Operations Command liaisons worked with their Israeli counterparts to help track Soleimani’s cellphone patterns. The Israelis, who had access to Soleimani’s numbers, passed them off to the Americans, who traced Soleimani and his current phone to Baghdad,” said the report.
In addition, at an earlier date, “Israeli intelligence at one point tipped off the CIA about a courier for Soleimani who would travel outside Iran to pick up clean phones for the Quds Force leader and his inner circle, recalled a former intelligence official. The CIA got wind that the courier would visit a specific market in a Gulf country to procure these devices, and sprang into action. The agency executed a complex supply chain compromise, installing spyware on a set of phones that were seeded into the marketplace used by Soleimani’s courier,” said the report.
Further, “The gambit worked, said the former official, and the courier purchased at least one bugged phone that was then used by someone who was often in the same room as Soleimani. But because Soleimani and other Iranian leadership would often rotate their devices, and employ other measures to avoid being surveilled, successes of this sort were fleeting, said former officials,” stated Yahoo.
Other new revelations indicated that several Kurdish agents on the ground at the Iraqi airport where the assassination took place had key roles.
One Kurdish agent impersonated a ground controller; one impersonated an official for receiving luggage and a third pretended to be an Iraqi police officer to positively ID Soleimani as dead through photographic and DNA evidence.
Israeli intelligence reportedly has deep penetration of anti-Iranian Kurdish groups, though the US also has strong Kurdish ties.
In addition, the Yahoo report revealed that Us special forces were on the ground and fired on a second car to get it to slow down until it was also hit by a US drone overhead.