Soleimani, who commanded the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force, was wiped out by an American drone near Baghdad Airport last January.
His killing brought the US and Iran closer to open war than at any time in recent years, and according to a Yahoo News article published on Saturday, was in the planning stages since the earliest days of the Trump administration.
Based on “interviews with 15 current and former US officials,” the article pieces together the effort to “take Qassem Soleimani off the board,” in the words of one anonymous CIA official. Multiple US military branches and intelligence agencies were involved, but so too were Israeli special forces, the article claims.
In the runup to the strike, US Joint Special Operations Command personnel traveled to Tel Aviv, where they “worked with their Israeli counterparts to help track Soleimani’s cellphone patterns.”
Soleimani reportedly switched phones several times in the hours before the attack, but the Israelis knew his numbers, and “passed them off to the Americans.”
It is unclear which Israeli unit or units had Soleimani’s details. All the article reveals is that they were “counterparts” of US special forces.
Israel has repeatedly denied involvement in the Soleimani strike. “The assassination of Soleimani isn’t an Israeli event but an American event. We were not involved and should not be dragged into it,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told his security cabinet after the attack. “Israel stayed at a distance from the incident,” was reportedly the line from the directors of Mossad and Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate.
The Israel Defense Forces’ international spokesman, Jonathan Conricus, told France 24 that the Israeli military “had no role” in killing Soleimani, emphasizing that “this was an American-executed operation.”
The Israeli embassy in Washington did not comment on Yahoo News’ latest report.
Israel’s alleged involvement in the Soleimani strike would likely come as no surprise to Tehran. Since Soleimani’s death, Iran has blamed Israel for assassinating another one of its top scientists, for attacking its oil tankers, and for sabotaging its nuclear facilities. Israel has stayed silent on the accusations.