Who Was Qasem Soleimani—a Terrorist or a Hero?

This entry is part [part not set] of 3 in the series Understanding the Impact of Soleimani Assassination

A lot is happening and will happen in Iran and the Middle East in 2020. The assassination of Qasem Soleimani has started a chain reaction that will change the future of Iran. These changes will probably affect the whole Middle East and even the world. 

The Iranian government has vowed to take revenge. In response, President Trump has warned that he is ready to take action and destroy 52 already identified sites in Iran if there is any attack on American lives or properties. Many predict a full-fledged war will happen soon.

General Qasem Soleimani on 1 October 2019.
Source: khameini.ir. Photo cropped and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Who Was Soleimani?

Who was Qasem Soleimani? Outside Iran, he was known as a terrorist, but inside, he was a hero. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians mourned in the streets after his death because many people loved and admired him. This is why:

He was in charge of the Quds Army, the international arm of the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He executed Iran’s policy in the region and internationally. In the region, under Soleimani, Iran became a major force determining the future of countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. We know Iran is the top financier of terrorism around the world. It was Soleimani who was trusted with that budget, and he was effective in using the money to fight wars with proxy armies and produce terrorism through proxy organizations. 

He was the number two man in Iran. He was a close ally and friend of Ayatollah Khamenei for over 40 years. Khamenei has trusted none of the other IRGC leaders, fearing that if they become powerful and united, they may turn against him. So he has frequently changed the senior leadership of IRGC with one exception: Soleimani. Khamenei trusted him very much.

He was a national hero. For years, the media in Iran, controlled by the Islamic government, had depicted and promoted Soleimani as a national hero. Due to that propaganda influence, the people believe the following: 

  • He was the hero who protected Iran from an invasion and attack by ISIS. State-controlled media caused the people to believe that without the general, ISIS would have attacked and even taken over Iran.
  • He single-handedly defeated ISIS. The people believe that Trump undeservedly took the credit for Soleimani’s work of defeating ISIS.
  • He made Iran a significant power in the Middle East and the world. Under him, Iran gained a major role in what was happening in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen. We must not forget the statements made by Khomeini, Soleimani, and other high-rank Iranian officials for the last 40 years, statements that were drilled into the people’s minds through the media: “Iran under the Islamic Republic has flourished to become a major world power, so much so that even the United States is afraid of it.”
  • He took control of Iraq, which at one time was the archenemy of Iran. That means he not only protected Iran but overtook an enemy country and brought it under the control of the Islamic Republic. Because Iran has a majority Shiite population, he was able to infiltrate and then control the power factions inside Iraq and its government.
  • He is the hero who made Iran so strong that America does not dare attack it. When Iran shot down the multimillion-dollar U.S. drone last June and President Trump gave no answer—nor answered immediately to subsequent similar aggressions—the media’s take has been, “Look how strong we are. We can attack Americans, we can attack the oil ships, we can attack the oil production facilities of Saudi Arabia, we can attack the U.S. embassy in Iraq, and America does not dare to respond because we have superior power.”

As a national hero, Soleimani was more popular and loved by people than Khamenei himself. Even though the people’s hatred for their leaders has grown, Soleimani was the only official who had a good name and was loved.

What Was Soleimani’s Future?

Khamenei had plans for Soleimani’s future. The ayatollah worked hard through the media to deceive people and make Soleimani a hero because he had a long-term plan: make him the next president. Currently, no government-approved candidate for the 2021 election is positioned to bring hope—even false hope—to the hearts of the people and get them to vote. With Khamenei and the Islamic government so unpopular, Soleimani was the solution. 

The top religious leaders expected that when Soleimani became president, they could deceive and control the people for another eight years, giving them a false hope that Soleimani would curtail the power of the mullahs and make Iran’s governments more secular. A more secular rule would remove the clergy from the government but not from power. Under the guise of democracy, they would continue to rule the people.  

This deceptive plan was working. Hundreds of thousands of people publicly mourned Soleimani’s death. Few realized that Soleimani was supporting and supported by the corrupt Islamic regime. They did not realize that during the protests in 2009 and 2019, he was the one who brought Syrian soldiers to the streets of Tehran, killing Iranian youth with no mercy, and stifling both movements. Bashar Assad, Syria’s president, sent his soldiers to return a favor to Soleimani’s Quds army, which has been helping Assad for many years by slaughtering the people of Syria who opposed Assad, assuring the survival of his rule. 

By killing Soleimani, Trump not only stopped an international leader in terrorism but derailed the top clergy’s plans for their regime. It was a great personal blow to Khamenei and his future. 

Nevertheless, Khamenei is using Soleimani’s death to his advantage. He pronounced three days of national mourning that hundreds of thousands of people attended. The government organized and spent much money on a huge, prolonged national memorial. They used the love people had for Soleimani and the grief they are feeling for their own purposes:

To distract people from their daily misery. People have been protesting for two years. But in the past two months, their lives have been so miserable that their protests have been national and continual. Government forces reportedly have killed over 1,500 people and arrested over 12,000. But the protests still go on. The people have economic woes and are therefore disgusted with the government because of its corruption. Those in power have embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars for themselves and their families. The government has spent billions of dollars to advance their ambitions outside Iran but has not cared about its own people. 

To once again emphasize that the U.S. is their enemy. For survival, the Iranian government has always needed an outside enemy. For the past 40 years, enmity with the United States has served that purpose. Unlike the government, most of Iran’s people love the U.S. Therefore, the government is using this assassination to convince people that America does not have goodwill towards the people of Iran. So, they say, America must not be trusted but rather hated, and if some love the U.S., they are deceived.

To avoid complaints and protests due to war status. Although they have no actual war as yet, now they can ask people to tolerate their miserable lives because “we are fighting the U.S.” The government can sidestep demands with this war excuse.

The year 2020 will be one of many unexpected happenings—it has already started that way. But no matter what happens, we as Christians must be alert, seek the truth (and not believe everything we hear in the news), seek God’s wisdom and supernatural understanding of the events and what He is doing through them, ask Him to reveal to us His plans and what He is doing and where He is working. Then we must have the courage to step out by faith to do His will, partnering with Him to transform our lives, our families, and our nations.

My next article in this three-part series will address what we may expect next in the chain reaction that follows the assassination.

Is Trump the Next Cyrus?

Looking at All Sides of the Coin


Have you seen the new half-shekel coin in Israel? Donald Trump’s face appears on it in raised relief alongside King Cyrus. The image implies a connection between the two world leaders—one an American president in modern times, the other a King of Persia from 2,500 years ago.

Mikdash Educational Center Coin 2
This coin minted by the Mikdash Educational Center in Israel implies a connection between two world leaders—one an American president in modern times, the other a King of Persia from 2,500 years ago.

Why this connection? After King Cyrus conquered Babylon, he allowed the exiled Jews to return to Jerusalem and even financed the rebuilding of their temple (2 Chr 36:22–23). By doing so, he returned conquered territory to its previous owner. In similar fashion, President Trump’s recent announcement moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem sends a strong message confirming Jerusalem as the territory of the Jews and not the Palestinians.

Now the question is: Is this good or bad? The answer is: It depends on whom you ask.

Different Points of View

Orthodox Jews – The coin will not actually circulate as currency, of course. The new Sanhedrin and Mikdash (Temple) Educational Center minted only a thousand of these coins to honor America’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. They hope that with the support of Trump’s administration, they will be able to rebuild their temple—just as Cyrus helped them to do so.

Israeli Government – Prime Minister Netanyahu has recently embraced this comparison between President Trump and the great Persian king who was “appointed” by God to do his will as it concerned Jerusalem. President Trump hosted a VIP reception for Netanyahu on March 5, 2018. This was a large contrast to how President Obama had treated him for the previous eight years. For example, Obama publicly insulted Netanyahu by refusing to see him when he visited the United States in September 2012.

Palestinians – Palestinians are angry that America has broken with long-standing diplomacy and sided with Israel on the Jerusalem question. They say that this undermines the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Iranian Government – The Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) is set to wipe Israel off the map, and also is set to wipe Cyrus from Iran’s history. For the last 39 years, they have been trying to induce hatred towards Israel in the hearts of the people of Iran. They are developing nuclear bombs and intercontinental missiles to bring to reality to their goal of destroying Israel. Their first intended target will be Jerusalem. They have been backing the Palestinian cause and financially supporting Hamas since the 1979 revolution. They have been also trying to downplay the importance of Cyrus and the glorious history of Iran (Persia). Last October, they arrested some youth who were celebrating the birth of Cyrus at his tomb.

Iranian People – Most Iranian are very proud of their history, including King Cyrus. They compare the human rights declaration of Cyrus to their current situation and believe Iran was more civilized then than now.

Even though Iranians are not happy with Trump’s immigration laws restricting them from coming to a country they admire, they hope he will bring down the Islamic government and replace it with a secular democracy—but without war. There is such a great divide and distrust between the people of Iran and the Islamic government that they are furious their money is being used to support Palestinians. Also, after 39 years of government-sponsored rallies to shout “Death to Israel,” the people of Iran are saying, “Tell us again why should we hate the Jews and be against Israel? What have they done to us? Should we hate them just because you are telling us so? We do not trust you. We do not see a reason to hate Israel and the Jews.”

What Is Our Position at Iran Alive?

We at Iran Alive are committed to proclaiming the mind of Christ and the heart of God, as stated in the Bible, into every situation. So we follow the below policy when facing issues like this Cyrus-Trump comparison.

We never take sides in politics – We state the issues and discuss what the Bible has to say about those issues but do not take sides. We are neither pro– nor anti-government. But we are anti-injustice and pro social justice as is clearly commanded in the Bible (Isa 1:17, Zech 7:9–10). Our call is to transform Iran with the power of the gospel. We believe when a society is truly transformed, it will naturally impact the government that rules it.

We show that we value Cyrus and Iran’s glorious history – We take this position first because the Bible has much respect for Cyrus and the past of Iran. Cyrus’s name and birth were predicted in the Bible 150 years before he was born, and the Lord calls him “My Messiah” (Isa 45:1) and “My Shepherd” (Isa 44:28).

Second, we show the Iranians that we, as Muslims who have become Christians, have not forfeited our nationality to embrace a western religion. We want to signal to them that we are even more Iranian than before our conversion, and we have more love and respect for Iran and its past because of what is written in the Bible.

This Persian New Year set at Iran Alive television studio helps connect with millions of Iranians who prefer their ancient heritage to Islam.

Third, this position is the best way to connect to the heart of millions of Iranians who have rejected Islam and are finding their national identity not in Islam but in Cyrus and the Persian empire. That is why for the Persian New Year week, we had a TV set that resembled Persepolis (see picture).

We promote Love and Unity among nations and racesOne of our goals is to help Muslim background believers to get rid of any hatred they have toward other nations. If they have any leftover hatred toward the Jews, we want to help them get rid of that. We teach them that since “God so loved the world” (Jn 3:16), we must also love all nations and races. On the Israeli-Palestinian issue, we state, “God loves both Israelis and the Palestinians. He loves both the Jews and Arabs and wants both sides to be saved.”

During my live broadcasts, I occasionally bring on a Jewish Christian, an Arab Christian, an Indian Christian, a black Christian, or a white American Christian for this reason, so they might teach our viewers to have the heart of God, to love all people and desire that all come to salvation.

I don’t know if God is using or will use President Trump as he did King Cyrus. That question in one for future history books to answer. But I do know Iran is turning to Christ in record numbers, and Iran will become a light to the entire Middle East as these Muslim background believers love their former enemies.

What people group is hard for you to love? I pray you reach out to them with the love of Christ today.

Related articles:

Associated Press. “Israeli Group Mints Coin Bearing Trump’s Image.” CBS News, February 28, 2018. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/israel-trump-coin-honours-recognition-jerusalem-as-capital/.
Ravid, Barak, and Natasha Mozgovaya. “White House Declines Netanyahu Request to Meet With Obama.” Haaretz, September 11, 2012. https://www.haaretz.com/white-house-no-netanyahu-obama-meeting-1.5160303.
Brennan, David. “Israeli Group Mints New Trump Coin to Honor U.S. Embassy’s Move to Jerusalem.” Newsweek, February 28, 2018. http://www.newsweek.com/trumpcoin-israeli-group-mints-new-coin-honor-us-embassy-move-823981.
“Remarks by President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel Before Bilateral Meeting.” The White House. Accessed March 27, 2018. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-prime-minister-netanyahu-israel-bilateral-meeting-2/.
Wadhams, Nick. “U.S. Speeds Up Timetable for Moving Embassy to Jerusalem.” Time, February 24, 2018. http://time.com/5174043/us-embassy-jerusalem-may/.


Trump’s Nuclear Ultimatum: Now What?

My Expectations for the Next 120 Days and Beyond

Trump’s speech on the nuclear deal with Iran on January 12, 2018, has caused a jolt around the world. His ultimatum giving 120 days to fix “disastrous flaws” in the Obama-led nuclear deal has created shock waves not just in Iran but Europe and other countries as well. The reason is that the continuation, cancellation, or even modification of this deal will impact many countries in several tangible ways.

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Below, I give a summary of the reactions, the reasons behind them, and what I think various sides of this agreement will do. I hope this will benefit your thinking through the different opinions on this hot-button issue.


The Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI)

For the IRI, there is panic and fear. They know that if sanctions are restarted, it will put much pressure on both the government and the people of Iran. The government will become weaker, and the people, who are already fed up with the situation, may develop a more effective uprising that threatens even the IRI’s existence. It is a known fact that the previous set of sanctions imposed from 2012 to 2015 was bringing the government of Iran to its knees. The nuclear deal and the resulting $150 billion given to Iran was truly a lifeline to them, enabling them not only to survive but to thrive.

Secretary-General of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Hassan Rohani speaks to the media in Tehran.

The previous set of sanctions imposed from 2012 to 2015 was bringing the government of Iran to its knees.

Nevertheless, the IRI has several ways to stop America from imposing new sanctions. How? Many European countries have made lucrative financial deals with Iran since the removal of previous sanctions, and they receive a substantial portion of their oil from Iran. Therefore, new sanctions will not only damage Iran but will also damage these countries. Russia and China will also join the pack supporting the IRI, not because of financial gain—they benefit either way because they will continue a financial relationship with Iran secretly even with sanctions—but because they do not agree with US policy.

So, it is very possible that the IRI will persuade the other countries to stand up to any U.S. demands to negotiate a new deal and impose new sanctions.


The People of Iran

Surprisingly, most Iranians support Trump’s policy towards Iran. It is interesting to note that the U.S. mainstream media covers the reaction of the IRI to Trump’s remarks regarding rewriting the nuclear deal, but they do not cover what the people of Iran say about it. Why? Because contrary to the mainstream media, the Iranian people are mostly pro-Trump on this issue.


Surprisingly, most Iranians support Trump’s policy towards Iran.

Here are the reasons:

  1. In 2012 when the previous sanctions were imposed, the people of Iran stood behind their government and blamed the American-led sanctions for their bad economy and hard life. But now they have seen that even when the sanctions were lifted and the Obama administration gave the IRI $150 billion, the people’s situation remained the same. They are desperate and know that with or without sanctions, they will have a hard time earning a living, they will be oppressed, and they will be killed if they protest. They feel they have nothing to lose. They are so utterly hopeless that Trump’s standing up to IRI and trying to restore sanctions gives them some hope that they desperately need. It gives them a faint hope that maybe the future could get better.


  1. Trump is addressing the human rights issue in Iran. President Obama never did that. Even during the uprising of 2009, he was silent and gave not even a word of encouragement or support to the Iranian people. Trump, in contrast, has put 14 Iranian individuals on the blacklist. One is Mr. Larijani, who is the head of judiciary in Iran and has been directly involved in the arrest and execution of the young people in 2009 and 2018. This gesture by Trump gives Iranians a feeling that finally somebody is caring and talking about the human rights violations in Iran and doing something about it.


  1. Trump’s tough stand against the IRI gives the people of Iran hope that maybe this administration somehow will remove the brutal dictatorship from Iran. They deeply desire this and will support Trump even if it means they will have to suffer through another set of sanctions. Through eight years of Obama’s foreign policy that appeased the IRI, the people of Iran lost hope that the U.S. would ever do anything to help them and even doubted that the U.S. cared at all. Do not forget that the Iranian people love and admire the U.S. If they were given a choice, they would choose to have an American-style democracy established in Iran. They even desire that Iranian society would adopt American social norms and lifestyles.


The European Governments

They will not support Trump’s call to renegotiate the nuclear deal and impose new sanctions. Why?

  1. They have much to lose. Just as Trump’s “America First” financial policy puts America’s financial interests above the interests of other countries, the European countries will also put their financial gain above Trump’s foreign policy toward Iran. Currently, Iran is sending 40 percent of its oil export to Europe, and these countries are dependent on that oil for their economy. Many have made lucrative long-term deals with Iran in the past two years. For example, the French energy giant Total has closed a deal with Iran to invest US$4.8 billion there.


  1. In general, these countries do not care about U.S. foreign policy, and they may even be against it. It is not an issue for them when Iran stands up to the U.S. in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. They are not alarmed when the IRI threatens to wipe Israel off the map—and for certain they are not ready to pay a price just to diminish that threat to Israel.


European countries will put their financial gain above Trump’s foreign policy toward Iran.

Russia and China

They most likely will side with the European countries and stand up to Trump trying to renegotiate the nuclear deal.

  1. Russia and the IRI both have similar goals for the Middle East and in many cases are working together to accomplish those goals (such as in Syria). A weak Iran could mean that the U.S. gains the upper hand in the areas where the IRI has been effectively meddling.
  1. By supporting Iran against U.S. demands, they will improve their relationship with the IRI even more both politically and economically. Iran needs them to help stop new sanctions and will probably offer them new trade deals if they help defend against Trump’s ultimatum.


Iran will probably offer Russia new trade deals if they help defend against Trump’s ultimatum.


It looks as though Trump does not have enough support or leverage with the world powers and European countries to renegotiate the nuclear deal and muster up new sanctions. Of course, the U.S. could put sanctions on Iran unilaterally, but that would not be effective. Canceling any American financial dealings would create a vacuum that would be gladly filled by offers from Russia, China, and European countries.

As a result, Iranians will continue to be oppressed by a dictatorship that has shown that its main goal is survival and not caring for its own people.

There remains one possible hope for Iranians: the Revolutionary Guards, with or without direct help from America, could topple the rule of the clergy and establish a secular government. For the foreseeable future, that seems like the only way the government in Iran might—and probably will—change.

Meanwhile, Christianity is fast growing in Iran. The current events are the perfect storm through which the Lord is weaning Iran from Islam and attracting them with his love. Through all the bad news in Iran, he remains as the only good news.

Unfortunately, if the government of Iran changes to a secular democracy, the spiritual hunger of the people will die down very rapidly. So the time is short for Christians to work in Iran while this supernatural spiritual hunger exists.

We must work together to establish a strong church now. If we wait for Iran’s government to change, it will be too late.

The time is short for Christians to work in Iran while this supernatural spiritual hunger exists—so we are starting an equipping school called the “412 School.”

In 2018, we at Iran Alive are focusing on strengthening the underground church in Iran through equipping each Christian to be an agent of transformation. We are starting an equipping school called the “412 School” based on Ephesians 4:12—equipping the saints for the work of the ministry.

Would you join us to make this happen this year? Without friends like you, we are not able to do what we are called to do. We are issuing a “Macedonian call” to come and help us. Please contact me if you feel led to answer this call.

To express interest, you may send an email to info@IranAliveMinistries.org, which I check daily, or call (469) 982-0000. We will contact you to explore possibilities for partnership.