NCRI, 15 November 2019
Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Quds Force, plays a well-known role beyond Iran’s borders, which has been widely covered by international press agencies. Yet, the name and the key role of Iraj Masjedi, the Iranian regime’s ambassador in Iraq and one of Soleimani’s deputies, is less well-known.
Masjedi is the field commander for the Iranian regime and the third-highest ranking officer in the Quds Force.
Masjedi has a more extensive history of interference in Iraq than even Qassem Soleimani. Masjedi has handled the situation in Iraq for the past 36 years. All the Iranian regime’s proxy groups and paramilitary groups such as the Badr Brigade and the terrorist operational units of Hezb-ol-Dawa and certain Kurdish groups were under Masjedi’s command and on his payroll.
In recent years, Masjedi had a direct role in the creation of the Iranian regime’s paramilitary proxy groups, and now he directly commands and controls these groups. According to reports obtained by the Iranian resistance from inside of the Iranian regime, those who opened fire on Iraqi protestors in October were members of the Popular Mobilization Forces and Iraqi security forces under Masjedi’s command.
Iraj Masjedi was born in 1956 in the City of Abadan in Khuzestan province. He has 37 years of service in the IRGC. After the Ramazan Garrison was established in 1982 as a headquarters for interfering in Iraqi affairs, Masjedi became its chief of staff. All the Iranian regime’s Iraqi agents including the Badr Brigade were formed under the Ramazan Base’s command.
The Iranian regime formed the Quds Force in 1990, after the Iran-Iraq war. Given the particular importance and priority of Iraq for the Iranian regime, Iraj Masjedi became the commander of Quds Force’s First Corps, which was assigned to interfere in Iraq and carry out various terrorist activities.
From 1992 to 2003, Ramazan Base’s forces conducted more than 146 terrorist operations against the main Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) also known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq or MEK. As a result, dozens of commanders and members of the MEK were martyred. After the downfall of the Iraqi government in 2003, Masjedi divided Iraqi territory among his commanders.
In 2014, when the Islamic State (IS) captured Mosul and Tikrit, Masjedi was stationed in Iraq and directly commanded the IRGC’s Quds Forces there while organizing proxy groups in the form of the PMF.
In April 2019, Masjedi officially became the regime’s ambassador in Iraq, thus bringing his 30 years of interference, terrorist and paramilitary operations out into the open. This effectively brought the entirety of Iraq’s political, economic, military, security, and even cultural affairs under the Iranian regime’s control.
In fact, as Khamenei’s governor in Iraq, Masjedi leads to the suppression of popular protests by the local population.
1-COVERING MASJEDI’S MILITARY AND TERRORIST BACKGROUND ON THE WEBSITES OF THE IRANIAN REGIME’S FOREIGN MINISTRY AND EMBASSY IN IRAQ.
In order to conceal Masjedi’s terrorist crimes, present him as the ambassador, and obtain diplomatic immunity for him, websites for the regime’s Foreign Ministry and its Embassy in Iraq include biographies for Masjedi that are completely different from those that have already appeared in Iran’s state-run media.
In this introduction of “Mr. Ambassador,” there is not even the slightest reference to his military background in the IRGC or his command of the Ramazan Base. Instead, he is presented as an expert, researcher, political strategist, and university professor.
IRAJ MASJEDI’S INTRODUCTION ON THE WEBSITES OF THE REGIME’S FOREIGN MINISTRY AND EMBASSY IN IRAQ
First Name: Iraj
POB: Khuzestan province
Marital Status: Married and has 3 children
Education: Masters in History from Shahid Beheshti University (former national university)
Masters in Strategic Management
Teaching management at different universities of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Has worked for years in different political, security and advisory positions related to the political, defense, cultural and economic fields of Iraq and has a close relationship with Iraqi government officials and authorities in different parts of this country.
-Senior advisor to Iraqi authorities on defense and national security issues.
–Senior advisor on Economic Relations with Iraq Headquarters
On April 18, 2017, [Masjedi] entered Baghdad and started his activity after submitting his letter of credence to the Iraqi Foreign Minister.
On January 17, 2017, Iraj Masjedi’s appointment as the regime’s third ambassador to Iraq was announced. On the same day, the state-run Mizan News Agency wrote, “Some of the media outlets name ‘IRGC Brigadier General Iraj Masjedi,’ the senior advisor of IRGC’s Quds Force, as Iran’s new ambassador to Iraq. General Masjedi, the possible ambassador of Iran in Iraq, was the chief of staff of the IRGC’s only exterritorial garrison (Ramazan Garrison) during the sacred defense [Iran-Iraq war]. Most of the garrison forces were elite forces who had the experience of fighting in Kurdistan and regional countries. They had to walk for kilometers, going through mountains and up and down to get to the target and carry out their operation. The mission of [Ramazan] garrison was performing guerilla operations inside the Iraqi territory with the cooperation of the Iraqi-Kurdish dissidents.”
2-EXAMPLES OF MASJEDI’S ROLES BEFORE BECOMING AN AMBASSADOR
Before his appointment as the Iranian regime’s ambassador in Iraq, state-run media outlets presented Iraj Masjedi as the senior advisor to Qassem Soleimani. Masjedi participated in the memorials of the IRGC forces killed in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. The following pictures are some examples of his presence as one of the senior officials of the Quds Forces at these funerals:
January 31, 2015- Mashhad: Memorial of Imad Mughniyeh and his son Jihad. Jihad was killed along with the IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad-Ali Allahdadi in Syria
06-18-2016، Sari- Mazandaran Province: Iraj Masjedi at the memorial of 13 killed IRGC members in Khan Tuman in Syria.
A large gathering in Khorasan Province for martyrs of the Iran-Iraq war and so-called defenders of the Shrine to Zeinab, the daughter of Imam Ali.
3-Masjedi’s behavior in Iraq: foreign governor or representative of an occupying force?
On December 15, 2018, Iraj Masjedi participated in the Iraqi National Assembly and when the chairman of the session asked the participants to rise in respect of the Iraqi martyrs, Masjedi left the parliament. Many Iraqi media outlets described Masjedi’s departure as offensive to the Iraqi people.
December 15, 2018- Iraj Masjedi leaving Iraqi Parliament’s session.
On September 26, Brigadier General Masjedi said, “If Iran’s regime is attacked, the regime will target American forces in Iraq.” By apparently boasting about the IRGC Quds Force’s free hand in interfering in Iraq, Masjedi helped to spark Iraq’s current protests.
Masjedi has direct relations with so many leaders of the groups that make up the Popular Mobilization Forces. Some examples are below:
Masjedi’s meeting with Ammar Hakim on February 1, 2018
Iraj Masjedi’s meeting with Akram-al Kaabi, head of the Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba on June 26, 2019. The United States included Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba and its leader Akram-al-Kaabi on its sanctions list on March 5, 2019.
Iraj Masjedi’s meeting with Nouri-al Maleki on July 16, 2019
4. RAMAZAN GARRISON AND MASJEDI’S ACTIONS IN THE IRAN-IRAQ WAR
Former IRGC commander-in-chief Mohsen Rezai once said that when the regime’s authorities welcomed the plan for establishing the Ramazan Base, he immediately created the IRGC’s Irregular Warfare Headquarters and subjected it to his direct supervision in 1982. This organization was created on the occasion of the holy month of Ramazan and was named after it.
According to Al-Mizan News Agency, Mohammad Bagher Zolghadr filled the role of the garrison’s commander while Iraj Masjedi was its chief of staff.
A picture of the Ramazan Base’s forces in the early years of creation in Kurdistan
After the Iran-Iraq war, the Ramazan Garrison became the Quds Force’s first corps. Its mission was meddling in Iraq and Iraj Masjedi was its commander.
The fall of the previous Iraqi government opened a new chapter in the terrorist Quds Force’s activities in Iraq. Masjedi played a decisive role in implementing the regime’s criminal policies in Iraq.
Masjedi had secretly gone to Iraqi cities such as Baghdad, Nasiriyah, Basra, Najaf, and Karbala and met with the Quds Force’s Iraqi agents, including Hadi Ameri, Abu-Mehdi Al-Mohandess, Hashem-al Moussavi, Abu Bilal Adib, Hassan-al Sari and another leader of Iran-backed Shiite groups. Through them, Masjedi carried out the regime’s interventionist policies and expanded its influence in Iraq.
In January 2007, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) exposed a secret IRGC document containing names and information about 32,000 of the regime’s paid agents in Iraq. These agents were considered members of the Quds Force’s Ramazan Garrison and were on the regime’s payroll for consecutive years.
Shortly after the downfall of the previous Iraqi government in 2003, these forces entered Iraq in large organized groups via passages in the Iran-Iraq border, under the direct guidance and command of top Quds Force’s commanders such as Qasem Soleimani, Iraj Masjedi, Ahmad Foruzandeh, and Hamid Taqhavi.
Tens of thousands of these agents were stationed in Baghdad and all the other Iraqi cities and provinces, as well as in Iraq’s military and political infrastructure, its political parties, and vital economic and cultural positions. All of these people had both Iranian and Iraqi names, Iranian bank accounts, personal codes, monthly wage rates in Iran’s currency, etc.
Abu-Mehdi Mohanddes, the commander of the PMF, is an obvious example. With the Iranian name Jamal Ebrahimi, he is considered one of the Quds Force’s most senior officers. He completed his command-period at Dafoos or AJA University of Command and Staff at the IRGC’s Imam Hussain University. According to the list revealed by the NCRI, he was on the Quds Force’s payroll. His account number in Iran was 50100460275 and his legal code was 3829770.
5-THE RAMAZAN GARRISON AFTER 2003 AND THE US INVASION
On December 1, 2007, the MEK reported: “The Quds Force’s terrorist intervention in Iraq is done under the command of the Ramazan Garrison. This garrison has 4 headquarters in the Iranian provinces near Iraq, including Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Kermanshah, and Khuzestan. These garrisons are Nasr, Raad, Zafar and Fajr, and the Quds Force continues its terrorist activities in Iraq through these garrisons. The Iranian regime receives thousands of paramilitary troops from these garrisons in Iran at terrorist military learning camps. Some of these camps are dedicated to the training of the Iraqi paramilitary troops and some of them are for the other terrorists from different countries in the world.”
The role of the Ramazan garrison in terrorist operations is well known. In 2007, the U.S. administration placed the garrison’s deputy commander on its list of terrorist organizations.
On January 10, 2008, the Washington Post wrote, “The administration named Brig. Gen. Ahmed Foruzandeh, leader of Iran’s Quds Force operations in Iraq, for allegedly directing the assassinations of Iraqis and ordering Iranian intelligence to provoke deeper sectarian violence in Iraq by targeting Shiites and Sunnis.”
The report quoted the US Treasury Department as saying, “Foruzandeh, who operates out of the Revolutionary Guard Headquarters in the old U.S. Embassy compound in Tehran, allegedly met with Shiite militias in July, calling on them to ‘continue liquidating all enemies of the Islamic revolution’, including security and intelligence personnel, tribal chiefs, and religious clerics.”
Foruzandeh was Masjedi’s deputy at Ramazan garrison.
6-MASJEDI’S FUNCTION AFTER THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ISIS RULE IN 2014 AND AT THE REGIME’S EMBASSY IN IRAQ
After Nouri-al Maleki attacked the people’s sit-ins in Al-Anbar province in Iraq in 2014, Masjedi, along with other commanders of the Quds Forces entered Iraq and carried out their oppressive plans to slaughter or relocate Sunni residents of this province. In this regard, Hassan Danai-Far, then the regime’s ambassador to Iraq and a Quds Force officer, worked under Masjedi’s supervision.
Masjedi played a leading role in forming criminal Iraqi paramilitary groups under the name of the PMF. He described the PMF’s actions as those of a “force strictly following the supreme leader,” which has to be at his service and “the sacred causes of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Different IRGC’s officials, on different occasions, called the PMF “Iraq’s Revolutionary Guards” and said, “Popular Mobilization Force is the same as the Basij forces in Iran.”
Masjedi fully supervised the PMF’s paramilitary troops entering the Sunni zones and massacring their residents under the pretext of fighting ISIS. Human Rights organizations and international media revealed details of these killings.
In addition to Iraq, Masjedi played an important role in warmongering and crime in Syria and sending Iraqi paramilitary forces to this country. On December 24, 2016, he said at a memorial for some of the IRGC members killed in Syria, “Yesterday, our frontlines were at Arwand river, Shalamche, Mehran and Haj-Imran. Today this frontline is transferred to Damascus, Aleppo, Mosul, and Fallujah.”
During the time of Masjedi’s appointment as the Iranian regime’s ambassador to Iraq, many Iraqi political movements and Arab countries in the Persian Gulf called Masjedi as a war criminal. Yet Falih Alfayyadh, the Iraqi government’s National Security advisor, said the Iraqi government agreed with the appointment of Masjedi as ambassador because he “participated in the creation of the PMF.”
Iraq’s PMF held a meeting called “Thanks Iran” on April 24, 2019, and expressed appreciation for the actions of the mullahs’ regime in Iraq. Masjedi participated in this meeting along with some of the IRGC Quds Force’s commanders and PMF leaders including Hadi-Al Ameri, Abu-Mehdi Mohandess and Falih Alfayyadh.
It is clear that the Iranian regime’s ambassador to Iraq, Iraj Masjedi, is Khamenei’s secret governor of Iraq. And as a top Quds Force commander, he is clearly the regime’s most important person in Iraq. Together, these positions provide him with both the authority and the diplomatic cover to order his agents to massacre the people of Iraq when their public demonstrations present a challenge to Iran’s influence.