Report: Israel Helped U.S. Track Down, Kill, Soleimani

A burning vehicle at the Baghdad International Airport following a deadly airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq, that killed Gen. Qassim Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. (Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office via AP, File)

Yahoo News on the weekend published a report suggesting that Israel helped tip off the U.S. ahead of the killing of top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in an American military operation.

According to the report, Israel had access to Soleimani’s telephone numbers and passed them off to the Americans, which allowed the Americans to trace Soleimani’s location.

Soleimani took off from Damascus and landed in Baghdad on January 3, 2020. He landed several hours behind schedule and switched cell phones 3 times in the 6 hours before he boarded the flight from Damascus.

U.S. Joint Special Operations Command liaisons were in Tel Aviv with their Israeli counterparts and tracked Soleimani’s cell phones, such that they knew exactly when he landed in Baghdad.

According to the report, three U.S. drones orbited overhead, two of them armed with hellfire missiles.

As Soleimani’s vehicle drove onto the road from the airport, two missiles were fired at his vehicle. U.S. snipers hundreds of meters away were ready in the event that something went wrong.

Another vehicle in Soleimani’s convoy tried to escape but one of the Delta Force snipers shot at it, after which it was struck by a third hellfire missile.

The report also said that the Israelis had at one point tipped off the CIA about a courier who would travel outside Iran to purchase clean phones for Soleimani and his inner circle. The CIA was then able to embed spyware on a set of phones, at least one of which was purchased by the courier and used by someone frequently in the same room as Soleimani.

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Forces and commander of the Hezbollah Brigade in Iraq, was also killed in the attack.