“[Qassem] Soleimani is the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today, and no one’s ever heard of him.” — John Maguire, former CIA officer in Iraq
They call him “Keyser Soze.” That’s the nickname the most influential spy in the Middle East has earned among regional hands and Arab officials—likely because no one, apart from them, has ever heard of him. Like the spectral villain who haunts The Usual Suspects—and is said to have murdered his own wife and children in cold blood just to prove a point—Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani is a lethal international man of mystery, a man perfectly suited to the age of Vladimir Putin, where crime boss and covert operative are denizens and custodians of the same shadow-world.
But Soleimani doesn’t concern himself with botched drug deals—or I should say, he doesn’t only concern himself with botched drug deals, given his role in orchestrating a Mexican cartel’s (unsuccessful) assassination of the Saudi ambassador to the United States in 2011. No, he’s into the fate of nations. And he just so happens to be the hardest-working spook on the planet.