Qasem Soleimani killed in a drone strike on Baghdad International Airport

Commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, killed in a drone strike on Baghdad International Airport earlier today – the potential implications…

Iran’s most powerful military commander, General Qasem Soleimani, has been killed by a US air strike in Iraq. Gen Soleimani spearheaded Iranian military operations in the Middle East as head of Iran’s elite Quds Force.

He was killed at Baghdad airport, alongside local Iran-backed militias, early on Friday in a strike ordered by US President Donald Trump.

Gen Soleimani’s killing will inevitably lead to a major escalation in tensions between Washington and Tehran, and potentially with Israel which, alongside the USA, is deemed to be Iran’s greatest enemy.

Under his leadership, Iran had bolstered Hezbollah in Lebanon and other pro-Iranian militant groups, expanded Iran’s military presence in Iraq and Syria and orchestrated Syria’s offensive against rebel groups in the country’s long civil war.

The Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has stated clearly that severe revenge awaits those behind the killing.

Gen Soleimani was widely seen as the second most powerful figure in Iran behind the Ayatollah Khamenei. His Quds Force, an elite unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, reported directly to the Ayatollah and he was hailed as a heroic national figure.

But the US has called the commander and the Quds Force terrorists and holds them responsible for the deaths of hundreds of US personnel.

What fall out/repercussions can we expect from this event?

An event of this kind will inevitably have major repercussions. For the Iranian regime, Gen Soleimani’s killing is equivalent to the USA having its CIA chief being killed. We cannot underestimate the potential repercussions. These could include the following:

  • Major increase in tensions across the Middle East, and the Gulf
  • Military activities by Iranian proxies in Southern Lebanon, Iraq and Syria
  • ‘Revenge’ attacks against the US Military, US global assets, Israel, American corporate/civilian organisations, as well as Jewish institutions
  • Economic fallout with increased oil prices, and potential fuel shortages
  • Increased threats and possibly physical attacks against US, British and other Western shipping in the Gulf
  • It is already being reported that Israel has placed its forces in Northern Israel on alert for possible incursions by Hezbollah from Southern Lebanon

So, what steps can we take now in our respective businesses and organisations?

Firstly, organisations and businesses which may be US or Israeli owned, or which have Jewish owners or investors will be at higher risk. That is because the Iranian regime perceives the USA and Israel as being inextricably linked both militarily, and politically.

The Iranian regime is also the main sponsor of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah being the fiercest enemy of Israel, and an organisation which has been accused in the past of being responsible for terror attacks against Jewish (not just Israeli) targets.

It is no exaggeration to say that anything can happen now in terms of revenge attacks or other fall-out. The repercussions may be immediate or mid to long term, but it is hard to envisage that revenge actions will not occur at all.

We must repeat therefore the messages from previous Corps Relay Briefings as follows:

  • Are you satisfied with your existing access control physical measures?
  • Have you assessed whether Hostile Vehicle Mitigation measures are required?
  • Is entry to your premises or estates adequately controlled?
  • Can you deploy security personnel to perimeter areas which enable them to safely look out for vehicles being driven at excessive speed?
  • Are reporting mechanism fast enough to enable prompt activation of lockdowns in the event of a suspect IED being found, or a speeding vehicle being detected?
  • Who has operational control of Security?
  • Are your personnel trained to understand and identify hostile reconnaissance?
  • What contingency plans exist to address situations where someone or something worrying or suspicious is discovered?
  • Do you have updated evacuation and ‘invacuation’ contingency plans?
  • Have you appropriate full and partial lockdown procedures in place?
  • Have you made all colleagues aware of the ‘Run, Hide and Tell guidance?
  • Are reporting procedures adequate in terms of escalation of concerns, and police support?

‘Top Tips’:

  • Restrict both pedestrian and vehicular access to authorised persons and vehicles only
  • Maintain a good flow of intelligence and information, including close liaison with local Police and Counter-Terrorism advisors
  • Have the right calibre of trained people in place, including well trained Security teams
  • Carry out regular tests (including Penetration Tests) and drills of all security and safety systems
  • Implement both internal and external security audits
  • Ensure that Contingency and Emergency plans are in place and are easily accessible for all relevant personnel
  • Always ensure that Security teams are alert to suspicious behaviour and activity in or around your subject premises or environment!

REMEMBER! It is vital that Access Control and anti-tailgating measures are as robust as possible, and that unauthorised persons are not allowed to gain access to your premises!

It is also vital that measures are in place to alert the police via 999 calls (not 101) or panic alarms in real time.

HMG’s terror alert status for the UK is detailed below:

The threat to the UK (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) from terrorism has been lowered from SEVERE to SUBSTANTIAL
The threat to Northern Ireland from Northern Ireland-related terrorism is SEVERE

NOTE:
Threat levels are designed to give a broad indication of the likelihood of a terrorist attack

  • LOW means an attack is highly unlikely
  • MODERATE means an attack is possible, but not likely
  • SUBSTANTIAL means an attack is likely
  • SEVERE means an attack is highly likely
  • CRITICAL means an attack is highly likely in the near future

Everyone should always remain alert to the danger of terrorism and violent political activists and report any suspicious activity to the Police on 999 or the anti-terrorist hotline on: 0800 789 321

REPORT IT!

You may end up saving a life or lives… and there is nothing more rewarding than that…

The following telephone numbers may be useful:

Corps Security Central Support: 0141 378 7000

Specific advice on Counter-Terrorism matters: 020 7566 0516

Editor: Mike Bluestone MA CSyP FSyI