Just two days before his assassination on January 3 last year, Lt Gen. Qassem Suleimani visited Lebanon and spent time with the family of top Hezbollah commander martyr Imad Mughniyeh and Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah.
At dinner, Mughniyeh family told the Iranian general that it had been a long time since his last visit. Gen. Suleimani replied by saying that in the coming period they would go to Iran to meet him due to security concers, Qassem Qassem reports in an article published by Lebanese Daily Al-Akhbar on the first martyrdom anniversary of the Iranian general.
Gen. Suleimani was so calm, all who was present at that unexpected visit described it as strange. “Suleimani was not a normal man to Mughniyeh family, whose house was just like his own house. Throughout long years, Suleimani prayed, ate and wept there. He shared the family’s sorrow and joy,” Qassem says.
Suleimani, Mughniyeh Faced Death Together
The relation between Suleimani and Mughniyeh family started in 1998 when he was tapped to be the commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force. Since that year, Suleimani constantly went to the house f Hezbollah’s military commander Imad Mughniyeh who was assassinated by Israeli Mossad in Damascus on February 12, 2008, according to the Al-Akhbar’s article.
The relation between the two commanders became closer after they repeatedly face death together, Qassem says. One of that incidents took place in July War in 2006. At that night, and due to intensified Israeli bombing of Lebanon, Mughniyeh and Suleimani (along with his associate) moved for another place. While moving, Suleimani pulled Mughniyeh by his shoulder addressing him: “Stay back, I will secure the road. You have to stay alive.”
Qassem narrates another incident when Suleimani and Mughniyeh, known for his nom du guerre (Haj Rudwan), noticed a suspected car on their way from Qom to Tehran. As they changed their way, Mughniyeh’s facial expressions had never changed, the Beirut-based Palestinian journalist cites a story told by Suleimani himself about that incident.
Just few minutes before Mughniyeh’s martyrdom in 2008, Suleimani was accompanying the Hezbollah commander, Qassem cites a report by Ronen Bergman, Israeli investigative journalist. Following the assassination, Suleimani became a member of Mughniyeh family. He got the nickname of “Amo”, which means uncle, and kept on following up their issues. His house in Iran also became a destination for Mughniyeh family, Qassem says.
Relation with Jihad Mughniyeh
Jihad Mughniyeh, Haj Rudwan’s son, had a special relation with Suleimani, Qassem says. During the Syrian war, Jihad worked among the ranks of the Resistance fighters in the occupied Golan. Few days before his martyrdom by an Israeli strike on Golan’s Quneitra in January 2015, Suleimani and Jihad Mughniyeh attended a meeting for the Resistance in Syria. Qassem quotes one of the meeting attendees as saying that Jihad asked Suleimani to go on a mission to the occupied Golan.
“Unlike previous meetings, Gen Suleimani authorized the mission of Jihad who was extremely charming to the extent that no one could say ‘no’,” Qassem quotes the Resistance fighter who attended that meeting in Syria as saying.
After Jihad’s martyrdom, Suleimani headed for the house of Mughniyeh family. He offered Hajjeh Amina Slameh, Imad Mughniyeh’s mother and Jihad’s grandmother, condolences. The Iranian general spent that night at Jihad’s room weeping and calling Allah to grant him martyrdom just like that of Imad and Jihad Mughniyeh, according to Al-Akhbar’s Qassem.
The Last Visit
Going back to Suleimani’s visit to Mughniyeh family two days before his martyrdom last year, Qassem narrates what happened by saying: “Unlike previous visits, Suleimani did not care for time. It was a special night when he stayed long at the house of Mughniyeh family’s house in Beirut’s southern suburb (Dahiyeh). He told them that he was heading for Iraq. They asked him to refrain from going there. But he replied by saying that he was going by his official capacity and that it was ‘illogical’ that he would be assassinated. However, with the presence of a man like Donald Trump at the White House, there is no place for logic. Then, Suleimani headed to visit Sayyed Nasrallah. After meeting Hezbollah secretary general, Suleimani received a phone call from Fatima Mughniyeh, daughter of Imad and sister of Jihad. During that phone call, Fatima reiterated her call on Suleimani to change his mind and cancel Iraq visit. He replied by saying that the weather was nice and that the moon was shining, using the term: ‘It seems that I’m heading to death’.”
“After midnight on Thursday, January 2, 2020, US fighter jets assassinated Gen. Suleimani near Baghdad International Airport. “Amo” was martyred in the same way as Imad and Jihad Mughniyeh were martyred. The news took Mughniyeh family back to February 12, 2008, the day when the top Hezbollah commander was martyred. Yes, according to that family the loss was the same,” Qassem concludes his article at Al-Akhbar.
Translated and edited by Marwa Haidar
Source: Al-Akhbar Newspaper