The same night that a U.S. drone killed Major General Qassem Soleimani, an almost simultaneous targeted strike took place in Yemen. Its target was Abdul Reza Shahlai, a senior Quds Force operative. The drone missile missed, resulting in the escape of Shahlai, who continues to remain at large.
Abdul Reza Shahlai is a senior Quds Force Commander. In the past, he had been a lead advisor and financier to Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an Iranian proxy militant group. In Yemen he is the key liaison between Tehran and the Houthi rebels, coordinating the supply of ammunition and weapons to the Shia rebel group.
Back in 2007, Shahlai had planned an attack that resulted in the death of five and the wounding of three American Soldiers. The Iranian covert operations officer has had a history of plotting and supporting attacks against American and Western targets not only in Iraq but all over the globe. He was notable for supplying and facilitating the use of Explosively Formed Penetrator (EFP), a sophisticated and devasting form of Improvised Explosive Devise (IED), against Coalition troops in Iraq.
Approximately 600 American warfighters have been killed by Iranian-backed actions during the Iraqi insurgency.
Two EFPs recovered by Spanish Special Operations troops in Lebanon.
Additionally, the State Department maintained that Shahlai had been behind a plot that would have resulted in the deaths of approximately 200 American civilians — the plot was thwarted by the U.S. intelligence community.
There is a $15 million bounty for information that will lead to the death or capture of Shahlai. The bounty is part of the Rewards for Justice program, a State Department initiative.
Despite the fact that Shahlai survived the strike, his activities are bound to be disrupted knowing that he might be just a missile away from joining his former commanding officer. And in this case, disruption might equate with termination: He won’t be able to stay for long on a place nor he will be able to be reached easily. A facilitator who can’t communicate with his headquarters, contacts, or customers is of little value. So, the targeted strike might have missed its target, but the outcome, that is impeding the activities of Shahlai, will be similar — though not in the longterm.