Key Figures and Leaders

Featured Leadership

  • Major General Qassem Soleimani

    Former Commander of the IRGC's Quds Force.

    Major General Qassem Soleimani arose from humble origins to become the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, the external expeditionary wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that oversees and carries out intelligence operations, terrorist plots, and unconventional warfare outside of Iran. The Quds Force, whose name refers to Iran’s desire to liberate al-Quds (Jerusalem) from Israeli control, is primarily tasked with spearheading the export of Iran’s Islamic Revolution throughout the Middle East and coordinating the activities of the loyal terrorist proxies and militias that Iran has cultivated around the region.

  • Mohammad Jafar Montazeri

    Chief Judge of the Supreme Court of Iran

    Mohammad Jafar Montazeri is a 75-year-old mid-ranking cleric and longtime Islamic Republic judiciary official. He was sanctioned by the U.S. in December 2022 and by the U.K. in January 2023. The U.S. Department of the Treasury found that in his former role as prosecutor-general, he played a central role in prosecuting peaceful protesters. The U.K. sanctioned Montazeri in response to the execution of Iran’s former deputy defense minister for foreign affairs, Alireza Akbari, a dual British-Iranian citizen charged with spying. In August 2023, the head of Iran’s judiciary appointed Montazeri as chief judge of Iran’s supreme court for a five-year term. His appointment had the personal backing of Supreme Leader Khamenei. This profile provides an overview of Montazeri’s life and resume, with some concluding remarks on what to expect from him in his new role.

  • Major General Mohammad Bagheri

    Chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces

    Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri is the chief of staff of Iran’s Armed Forces. The chief of staff is considered the highest ranking military officer in the Islamic Republic and is responsible for the coordination and supervision of Iran’s regular army (Artesh) and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

  • Mojtaba Khamenei: The Supreme Leader’s Gatekeeper & Guardian

    Mojtaba Khamenei

    The Supreme Leader’s Gatekeeper & Guardian

    Mojtaba Khamenei has emerged as an enigmatic but powerful figure in the Iranian system. Mojtaba is the second-eldest son of Ali Khamenei. His power stems not only from his family connection but also from the role he plays in the Office of the Supreme Leader. Mojtaba occupies a similar role to that of Ahmad Khomeini during Ruhollah Khomeini’s supreme leadership—a combination of aide-de-camp, confidant, gatekeeper, and power broker. Mojtaba has become so influential in the Iranian establishment, that some analysts consider him to be a contender to succeed his father as supreme leader.

  • Mohammad Hejazi

    Former Deputy Commander of the IRGC's Quds Force

    Following the death of Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. airstrike, his deputy Esmail Qaani was appointed to command Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force (IRGC-QF). Two weeks later, Brigadier General Mohammad Hejazi - a shadowy officer with a storied career in the IRGC - became Qaani’s vice-commander. Following his appointment, sources claimed that Hejazi would assume much of the Quds Force field command responsibilities.

  • Ali Akbar Velayati

    Foreign Policy Advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader

    Ali Akbar Velayati has held prominent leadership posts in the Islamic Republic since its inception. Rising from a member of parliament to foreign minister and later foreign policy advisor to Iran’s supreme leader, Velayati’s ascent can be attributed to his patron Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Some observers view him as Tehran’s true foreign minister without the title.

  • Mohammad Moghiseh

    The Iranian Supreme Court’s New Hanging Judge

    Mohammad Moghiseh is an Iranian judge infamous for violating defendants’ human rights and sentencing them to death or long prison terms on trumped-up charges.