Iran’s new president, Hasan Rouhani, has appointed Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan as the new defense minister in place of Brig. Gen. Ahmad Wahidid. Dehgan, according to a report by Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira, a senior research associate at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, was responsible for attacks against U.S. and Israeli forces in Lebanon in the 1980s.
The appointment will become official once it is approved by the Iranian parliament.
Dehgan has reportedly served in the Revolutionary Guard his entire military career, since the Islamic revolution in 1979. According to Shapira’s report, after Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in the summer of 1982, Dehghan was sent to Lebanon. He served as commander of the training corps of the Revolutionary Guard, first in Syria and soon after in Lebanon. In this role he was responsible for building up military force of Hezbollah, which was also established at that time.
At the beginning of September 1983, Hezbollah, with the help of the Revolutionary Guard headed by Dehghan, took over the Sheikh Abdullah barracks, which had been the main base of the Lebanese army in the Beqaa Valley and was turned into the Imam Ali barracks, the main headquarters of the Revolutionary Guard. It was from this base that Iran controlled Hezbollah’s military force and planned, along with the Shiite terrorist organization, the attacks on the Beirut-based Multinational Force and against Israeli forces in Lebanon.
The attacks, according to the report, were carried out by the Islamic Jihad organization, headed by Imad Mughniyeh, which was actually a special operational arm that acted under the joint direction of Tehran and Hezbollah until it was dismantled in 1992. Mughniyeh was killed in 2008 in a car bombing in Damascus, which Hezbollah insists was caused by Israel.
On October 23, 1983, a Shiite suicide bomber detonated a water tanker at the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 Marines; simultaneously, another Shiite suicide bomber blew up the French paratroopers’ barracks in Beirut, killing 58 soldiers. It was Mughniyeh who dispatched both bombers. The order to carry out the attacks, according to Shapira, was transmitted, and the funding and operational training provided, with the help of the Revolutionary Guard in Lebanon under Dehgan’s command.