The position of the Quds terrorist force in the structure of the IRGC and the armed forces of the Mullahs’ regime
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) was established on May 5, 1979. What started as a paramilitary group of ideologically trained units loyal to the supreme leader has now grown to be the sole protector and backbone of the ruling mullahs in Iran.
The Quds Force is one of four forces of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). The other three forces are the ground forces under the command of the IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, the Air Force under the command of the IRGC Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, and the Navy under the command of IRGC Brigadier General Alireza Tangsiri.
In addition to these four forces, the IRGC has organized a mobilization force called the Basij Organization, which is now under the command of IRGC Brigadier General Gholamreza Soleimani. The other three terrorist security organizations of the IRGC are the IRGC Intelligence Organization under the command of Mullah Hossein Taaeb, the Protection Organization under the command of Fathullah Jamiri, and the Protection of Information Organization under the command of Mohammad Kazemi. Among these eight main units of the IRGC, the Quds Force has a special role in the terrorist and war-mongering activities of the Velayat-e-Faqih regime.
In the organization of the IRGC, four forces and four organizations are under the Commander-in-Chief of the IRGC, Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, and his successor is IRGC Brigadier General Ali Fadavi. There is also an important body representing Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, headed by Abdullah Haji Sadeghi, who acts in line with the IRGC’s command, in the sense that it is not under the command of the Revolutionary Guards Commander-in-Chief and is directly linked to Khamenei.
History of the creation of terrorist groups by the Iranian regime inside and outside the country
Before the establishment of this force in the Iranian regime, the activities of the terrorist Quds force existed in other forms and by other groups from the beginning of the dictatorial rule of the clerical regime, leading to the formation of the Quds terrorist force during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. To get acquainted with these groups, we have an overview of their history:
- Mohammad Montazeri Armed Terrorists Group: One of the first active institutions in this field was a small armed terrorist force under the command of Mohammad Montazeri, the son of Hossein Ali Montazeri, Khomeini’s former successor. That same year, they were fully recruited by the IRGC.
- The Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution of Iraq: In the early 1980s, during the Iran-Iraq War, the IRGC’s terrorist operations abroad were overseen by then-regime president Khamenei
Khamenei supported individuals such as Mahmoud Hashemi, who later became the regime’s Head of the Judiciary during Khamenei’s leadership, to form a group called the “Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq” by gathering Iraqis opposed to Saddam Hussein in Iran. At the same time in Iran, Mahmoud Shahroudi was appointed spokesman for the terrorist group, later known as the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.
- Unit of the IRGC Liberation Movements: Another force associated with Iranian-backed groups abroad in the 1980s was the IRGC Liberation Movements, which was under the control of Mehdi Hashemi, then a member of the IRGC Command Council and brother of Hossein Ali Montazeri’s son-in-law. Hashemi was later arrested and tried in the War of Internal Forces of the regime’s gangs in competition with Rafsanjani and Khamenei, led by Rafsanjani’s Minister of Intelligence, Mullah Mohammadi Reyshahri. Hashemi was executed in 1987 and this unit was closed.
- 9th Badr Brigade of the IRGC: During the Iran-Iraq, Mohsen Rezaei, then-commander of the Revolutionary Guards, gradually tried to cover all of the regime’s terrorist activities abroad and communicate with the foreign groups supported by the regime, so he took these forces under his command. This was the first serious step taken by the IRGC to completely encompass the terrorist, war-mongering, and interventionist activities of the regime abroad. For this purpose, Rezaei formed the 9th Badr Brigade, which consisted of some Iraqi war prisoners and those expelled from Iraq.
- Two Iraqi terrorists who were active in the 9th Badr Brigade in those days were Abu Mahdi Mohandes, who later became Deputy Chief of the Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) of Iraq (Al Hashd-al Sha’bi), who was on the US terrorist list along with the future commander of the IRGC Quds Force Qassem Soleimani. Both were killed in an airstrike on January 3, 2020. Another terrorist was the IRGC Brigadier General Hadi Ameri, who later served as a minister and member of parliament in the regime’s puppet governments in Iraq.
- Hadi Ameri, the Badr group’s current head, is one of the most critical groups forming the Iraqi Al Hashd-al Sha’bi. Mohandes and Ameri took part in Operation Karbala V in Shalamcheh in 1986, under the command of Hassan Danaeifar. After the fall of Hussein, Danaeifar became the Iranian ambassador in Iraq between 2006 and 2010. Simultaneously with this post, Mohandes, and Ameri became officials and headed the Iraqi government and military-security forces.
- Mohandes had fled Iraq to Kuwait in the early 1980s. After collaborating with Lebanese terrorist Emad Mughniyeh, who was the second member of Hezbollah and was killed in Syria in 2007, he took part in the bombing of American-European targets in Kuwait and then went to Iran. In Iran, under the command of the IRGC, he continued his terrorist activities in connection with Iraq. Abu Mahdi later became the commander of the 9th Badr Brigade, which was part of the official structure of the IRGC.
- Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS): Simultaneously, with the MOIS’s establishment on August 18, 1984, the IRGC faced a competitor in intelligence and terrorist activities within the regime. At the time, the foreign section of the regime’s MOIS, which carried out terrorist activities, including assassinating dissidents outside Iran, was run by a cleric named Asghar Mirhejazi, Khamenei’s current political and security adviser. The MOIS is currently in tough competition with the IRGC Intelligence Organization for repressive activities inside and terrorist operations outside Iran.
- IRGC Ramadan Garrison: Another part of the IRGC’s terrorist operation outside Iran was carried out within the framework of the so-called “Ramadan” base. The base was responsible for the regime’s links to Iraqi Kurdish groups, including the forces of the Iraqi Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union, led by Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani.
- One of the Ramadan Headquarter senior commanders and its chief of staff in the 1980s was the IRGC Brigadier General Iraj Masjedi, who is now Iran’s ambassador to Iraq. At the time, another commander of the Ramadan Headquarter was the IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi, who was later appointed as commander of the Basij militia.
- Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist group: In the 1980s, a more critical part of the IRGC’s terrorist operations in Lebanon took place. The forces, later known as the “Lebanese Corp” in the IRGC, led by IRGC Brigadier General Hussein Dehghan (Minister of Defense in Hassan Rouhani’s first government) led to the formation of Hezbollah in Lebanon.
- Hassan Nasrallah, the current leader of Hezbollah, and Emad Mughniyeh, the head of Hezbollah’s military and security department, were among the two who were trained under Dehghan to command Hezbollah.
- Two other people who were influential in guiding and communicating with Hezbollah after Dehghan were IRGC Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, the IRGC’s intelligence chief at the time, and the first commander of the Quds Force after its establishment, and Fereydoun Verdijejad (then known as Mahdi Nejad). Both were appointed in 1985 by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and the IRGC to negotiate with Robert McFarlane, Ronald Reagan’s special envoy to Iran. Now he is the regime’s media adviser to President Rouhani.
The formation of the Quds terrorist force
After the Iran-Iraq war and Ruhollah Khomeini’s death, Khamenei became the Supreme Leader and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani became President. The two decided to do some sort of division of duties between the IRGC and the MOIS, which was in fierce competition with each other. The division of tasks was carried out so that terrorist operations against the regime’s political opponents abroad, including the assassination of their leaders, were entrusted mainly to the MOIS. Control and management of the foreign terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and other groups were handed to the IRGC. All the various subdivisions, including the Nasr base Command, headed by Reza Seifullahi, who was in charge of communicating with Iraqi Kurds and Shiites, merged and the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards was formed. Although there was no news about this terrorist force in the media for years.
Quds Terrorist Force Mission: Terrorist activities outside Iran’s borders
The Quds Force, or Quds Corps, officially operates outside of Iran, although in times of crisis, such as the November 2019 popular uprisings, they are brought in to suppress uprisings and attack the Iranian people. With the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, and the extensive participation of the Quds Force under the command of Qassem Soleimani in supporting the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, the name of the Quds Force and Soleimani was published more than ever in the international media.
A look at the areas of activity of the Quds Force of the IRGC
The most important operational areas of the Quds terrorist force at the beginning of its establishment. Following the end of the Iran-Iraq war, the terrorist force has expanded its activities to other countries and in the 1990s was mainly in Lebanon and the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- Lebanon: With extensive support for the Hezbollah terrorist group and efforts to further influence Lebanese government and security structures.
- Syria: Supporting Assad’s dictatorship, including the formation of pro-Syrian militias and the deployment of tens of thousands of militants in the form of the Fatemiyoun brigade of Afghan mercenaries, Zainebiyoun brigade of Pakistani mercenaries and Abolfazl’s brigade of Iraqi mercenaries.
- Iraq: With the establishment of a militia group called Al Hashd-al Sha’bi, the model of Basij militias in Iran, Iran trying to establish closer links with Iraq and control relations with the Iraqi Kurdistan region to control and suppress Iranian Kurdish forces in Iraqi Kurdistan.
- Yemen: Supporting the survival of the puppet Houthi regime in the capital Sanaa against the legitimate government, in conflict with Saudi Arabia.
- Afghanistan: Supporting Shiite groups and armed groups close to the regime and trying to gain more influence in the Afghan government.
- Palestine (Gaza Strip): All-out support for the terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as well as the destruction of the Middle East peace process and the weakening of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian government led by Mahmoud Abbas.
Despite the particular focus of the Quds terrorist force on the countries mentioned above, the Revolutionary Guards terrorist organization is also involved in terrorist activities in all countries of the Middle East, from North Africa to the Persian Gulf. Among these terrorist interventions and activities, we can mention the conflicts between the regime and the Bahraini government, in which the Quds Force plays an active role. In recent years, there have been numerous reports of the arrest of members of the Quds terrorist force and weapons and ammunition in the Persian Gulf’s Arab states, especially in Bahrain.
Quds Force under the command of Soleimani
The primary growth and expansion of the Quds Force took place with the beginning of Soleimani’s control in 1997. He was one of the few commanders of the IRGC liked by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. It should be noted that most of the senior commanders of the IRGC during the Iran-Iraq war were closer to Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was the deputy commander-in-chief of the forces and the second in command of the regime after Khomeini. The Quds Force, which should logically be a subset of the IRGC Commander-in-Chief and his successor, gained some independence under the command of Soleimani due to his special relationship with Khamenei. As commander, Soleimani coordinated his plans and decisions more with Khamenei than with the commander or deputy commander of the IRGC.
Who Was the Vicious Criminal Qassem Soleimani
On January 2, 2020, a U.S.-led airstrike targeted a convoy exiting the Baghdad International Airport, killing Qassem Soleimani, the notorious commander of Iran’s terrorist Quds Force. Ali Khamenei, the Iranian regime’s supreme leader, declared three days of mourning for Soleimani’s death and personally attended an emergency meeting of the Supreme National Security Council.
The overwhelming majority of Iranians despised Soleimani, an infamous symbol of the regime’s intimidation and murder, for his crimes against the Iranian people and throughout the region. The Iranian people and Iraqi protesters who have been calling for Soleimani’s expulsion from Iraq for some time welcomed his death as a sign of the waning of the regime’s control over their country.
Soleimani, carrying the rank of major general, was Khamenei’s hatchet man and a hated figure. During uprisings in Iran in 2018 and 2019, protesters tore up and torched his posters in different cities.
Qassem Soleimani was born on March 11, 1957, in a village near the town of Baft, in the southeastern province of Kerman. He did not finish his elementary education. He worked as an unskilled construction laborer while he was very young. He did not receive any military training. Yet he rose to the top of the IRGC command because of his ruthlessness and loyalty to the regime’s Supreme Leader.
In 1998, Soleimani was appointed as the commander of the terrorist Quds Force, the extraterritorial arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The terrorist Quds force is a military body founded shortly after the 1979 revolution with the sole purpose of suppressing domestic opposition and waging terrorist wars beyond Iran’s borders.
The mandate of the IRGC is to expand the fundamentalist ideology of the mullahs through killings, terrorist acts, and hostage-taking.
The Quds Force plays a very special role in the IRGC and is tasked with orchestrating the regime’s meddling in countries of the Middle East region, from Iraq to Syria and Yemen, and as far as the African continent.
Although the Quds Force is assigned missions outside Iran, Soleimani, as a senior member of the IRGC’s high command, was also a major contributor to the regime’s repressive apparatus inside Iran.
In July 1999, at the height of student protests, he signed a letter along with other IRGC commanders, warning then-President Mohammad Khatami that if he did not put down the revolt, the IRGC would intervene.
“Our patience has run out,” Soleimani, along with other IRGC Generals wrote. The police crushed the demonstrators, as they did again, a decade later in 2009.
Soleimani’s Role in Murdering MEK Members
Soleimani played a key role in the killing of the members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) in camps Ashraf and Liberty in Iraq. Before the 2003 U.S.-Iraq conflict, Soleimani orchestrated several attacks against MEK bases in Iraq.
From 11 January 1993 to April 2003, Iran’s terrorist Quds Force carried out over 150 terrorist attacks against the MEK in Iraq.
Holy Shrines’ Reconstruction Headquarters
One of the mullahs’ regime front organizations, through, which has secretly occupied Iraq, is the “Holy Shrines’ Reconstruction Headquarters” which is in fact an organization of Terrorist Quds Force. This headquarters has prepared the ground for the Quds Force to carry on different terrorist activities and arms trafficking, plundering and even circumventing sanctions under the pretext of reconstructing the shrines of Shiite figures and imams.
Qassem Soleimani appoints chairs of the Holy Shrines’ Reconstruction Headquarters and Arbaeen Headquarters. Qassem Soleimani personally made the last appointments in the Holy Shrines’ Reconstruction Headquarters on July 12, 2019.
Among them was the promotion of IRGC Brigadier General Hassan Polarak from the chair of the Reconstruction Headquarters to the special adviser of the Quds Force’s commanding office. After the promotion, Polarak was also tasked with supervising the activities of the Headquarters. In the same decree, Soleimani assigned Polarak as the authority for improving the Arbaeen ceremonies and circumventing the sanctions.
Soleimani appointed Mohammad Jalal Maab as the executive chair of the Reconstruction Headquarters, replacing Hassan Polarak.
Below is the copy of Qassem Soleimani’s two appointments in July:
The method of activity of the Quds Force in other countries
Although the Quds Force is better known under the command of Soleimani, he created a particular system of decision-making in the Quds Force. Unlike other armed or unarmed forces and organizations in the regime, in which deputies are usually defined and then subordinate to lower-level commanders, the basis of the decision-making system in the Quds Force is based on its performance in various countries where terrorist activity has taken place. According to the “one country, one case, one commander” system, this means that the responsibility of managing and deciding each of the countries in which the Quds Force has terrorist activities is assigned to a specific commander. He has extraordinary powers to control the activities of the regime in that country and will be responsible for all issues in that country.
In fact, in such a system, instead of dividing the issue of Quds Force activities in each country between different deputies and headquarters, it is Quds Force deputies and headquarters that provide support and logistics for Quds Force commanders in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Gaza and other countries. In other words, in the Quds Force, the focus of terrorist activity in different countries is the responsibility of commanders and other departments provide services to them.
At the head of this system is the Quds Force Command Council, which became public last year when Soleimani introduced Hassan Polarak, a former head of Iraq’s Holy Shrines Reconstruction Headquarters.
The names of other members of the Quds Force Command Council have not yet been announced. In practice, the council acts as an advisory council to the commander of the Quds Force, and the new commander of the Quds Force, Esmail Ghaani, enjoys the full authority of a commander like Soleimani.
Composition of the new commanders of the Quds Force of the IRGC
- IRGC Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani (Qaani), the successor of Soleimani, was appointed by Khamenei as the new commander of the Quds Force.
- IRGC Brigadier General Seyed Mohammad Hejazi, Qaani’s successor in the Quds Force, who was born in 1957 in Isfahan, is the former Chief of the Joint Staff and one of the commanders of the IRGC.
- IRGC Brigadier General Iraj Masjedi, who is Iranian ambassador to Baghdad and in charge of the Iraqi case: Due to the years in the Ramadan Garrison during the Iran-Iraq war, Masjedi has extensive relations with current Iraqi officials, mainly the Kurds. As the person in charge of the Iraq case, Masjedi also oversees the Holy Shrines (Atabat al-Aliat), a vast Iranian civilian infiltration network in Iraq; a system where many of its officials are commanders without the uniform of the IRGC.
More about Masjedi: Who is Iran’s secret governor in Iraq?
- IRGC Brigadier General Ahmad Sabouri, Deputy Coordinator of the Quds Force
- Mullah Ali Shirazi, representative of the Supreme Leader in the Quds Force
- IRGC Brigadier General Hassan Danaeifar, former Iranian Ambassador to Iraq (2010 to 2016)
- IRGC Brigadier General Hassan Kazemi Qomi, former Iranian ambassador to Iraq (2006 to 2010)
- Mohammad Jalal Maab, Head of the High Reconstruction Headquarters of the Holy Shrines (Atabat al-Aliat)
- Hassan Polarak, exclusive advisor and assistant commander and member of the Quds Force Command Council
Qassem Soleimani’s Successor, Esmail Ghaani(Qaani)
Subsequent to the elimination of Qassem Soleimani, the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, appointed Esmail Ghaani Akbarnejad to replace Soleimani. Ghaani was for years Soleimani’s deputy in the terrorist Qods Force.
Ghaani is among the most criminal commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), who for the past 40 years has played the most significant role in the suppression of the Iranian people and the massacres in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and other regional countries.
Ghaani, born in 1957 in Bojnourd, joined the IRGC since the early days of the establishment of the mullahs’ regime. Since 1980, he was sent to the Iranian Kurdistan region to suppress people there.
- In subsequent years, he was one of the IRGC commanders during the Iran-Iraq war and sent a large number of youth, teenagers, and students to the killing fields. Khomeini continued that war in order to prolong the survival of his disgraceful rule.
- As has been stated in the report by the General Command of the National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA) on the Eternal Light Operation, Ghaani fought the freedom fighters as the Commander of the Nasr 5 Division. According to the same report, Soleimani was also involved in the same operation as the Commander of the Sarollah 31 Division. (See the General Command Report, p. 49). They were responsible for killing many of the wounded and prisoners of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) in the battlefield.
- Following the end of the war, Ghaani spent some time as the Commander of Intelligence in the Kurdistan region, Intelligence Office Chief of the IRGC Joint Command, Commander of the IRGC Air Force, and Deputy Intelligence Chief of the IRGC Joint Command.
- In 1987, Ghaani was appointed as the Ansar Corps Commander, which was responsible for operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In this capacity, he organized and commanded special IRGC operations in Afghanistan.
- During the uprising of thousands of people in Mashhad in 1992, Ghaani played a decisive role in suppressing the protests.
- During the Student Uprising in July 1999, Ghaani was one of the signatories of a letter by 24 IRGC commanders to then-regime President Mohammad Khatami, demanding the severe suppression of the students.
- Ghaani has been involved in the export of warmongering and terrorism to Iraq. Since April 2014, Ghaani routinely traveled to Iraq to supervise the training and organization of militias. Following the war on the people of al-Anbar by then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Ghaani traveled to Iraq in the four-member delegation of the Qods Force on May 17, 2014. In subsequent months, as stated in the NCRI Secretariat’s statement on December 26, 2014, the Commander of the Qods Force ” set up a joint Tactical Operations Center in Anbar” with Maliki’s army and police forces. Iraj Masjedi and a number of other senior officials of the Qods Force were established in Iraq and Esmail Ghaani Akbarnejad, Qassem Soleimani’s Deputy, regularly travelled to Iraq to supervise the situation.”
- On May 2, 2015, the Security and Counterterrorism Committee of the NCRI wrote in a statement: “On July 12, 2014, speaking to a group of Qods Force commanders, IRGC Brigadier General Esmail Qa’ani, Deputy Qods Force Commander, announced a new phase of operations by Ansarullah in Yemen. He said: With this operation, we will place Saudi Arabia in a vulnerable position. In an interview with state-run TV on May 23, 2014, Ghaani admitted that the Houthi militias were trained by the regime. He said: “The defenders of Yemen were trained under the flag of the Islamic Republic. The enemies cannot confront the Yemeni fighters.”
- The NCRI Secretariat’s May 25, 2015 statement said that the responsibility for the Yemen war in the Qods Force rests with Ghaani, and he has set up meetings with Houthi commanders in Tehran. At that time, a large number of Houthi commanders and officials who were wounded in the Yemen war were being treated at the Imam Reza hospital in the city of Mashhad. The number of the wounded is so large that the hospital is refusing to provide bends to the residents of the city itself. Following treatment, the injured Houthis are sent to the Qasr-e Talai (Golden Palace) Hotel in Imam Reza Street, which is controlled by the IRGC. In its May 2, 2015 statement, the NCRI had also said: “On March 23 (2015), the Qods Force airlifted 52 of the wounded members of the Ansarollah (Houthis) to the IRGC Baqiyatollah Hospital in Tehran. Ghaani personally visited them at the hospital.”
- Ghaani played an active part in the clerical regime’s meddling in Syria and was involved in the massacre of the people of this country. The NCRI Security and Anti-terrorism Committee said in its statement on November 30, 2015, that following the killing of IRGC commander Hossein Hamedani on October 8, 2015, Ghaani assumed command of the war in Aleppo.
- Placed on the list of sanctions by the U.S. government, Ghaani has organized a vast network of smuggling in order to supply arms and funds to terrorist proxies in various countries, including Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.
The current situation of the Quds terrorist force
With the killing of Soleimani the most famous commander of the regime’s armed forces and terrorist forces, a significant blow was dealt to the Quds Force. The most critical challenge for the Quds Force after Soleimani’s death was to fill the gap and the absence of the number one terrorist in the world. It can be said that without Soleimani, it is difficult for the Quds Force to maintain its past influence even at the highest levels of decision-making of the regime’s IRGC.
Esmail Qaani still does not have the credibility that Soleimani had with Khamenei. On the other hand, although Qaani has been in contact with the leaders and commanders of the regime’s terrorist proxy groups in the region for the past 12 years, it will take more time to establish relations with them. Of course, time is running out for the integrity of the regime and for the terrorist Quds force.
In the period after Soleimani, Qaani tried to follow his mission by travelling to Iraq. Still, the news about the government’s approach to the Iranian regime in this country shows that he has a weak position, even in Iraq.
The most important challenge for Qaani and the Quds Force after Soleimani’s removal is to prove that the Quds Force is capable of being one of the two pillars of the regime’s military, security and even political power in the Middle East, along with the IRGC’s missile capability, as well as cast his shadow over the regime’s foreign ministry, as it did during Soleimani’s time, a challenge that has so far failed.
Another essential challenge after the removal of Soleimani is that the United States is becoming more active in targeting the Quds Force, its commanders, and the commanders of the Quds Force-affiliated proxy groups. An important and urgent challenge that could cause serious and irreparable damage to the Quds Force terrorist command network and its proxy groups.
What is certain is that the Quds Force of the IRGC, during its decades of criminal activity in countries around the world, especially in the Middle East, and repression inside Iran, has always been a tool to advance the policy of crisis and exporting of terrorism in the religious regime. However, despite the deep economic, social, and political crises in which the regime is involved and the great uprisings of the Iranian people in 2018 and 2019 and the existence of a nationwide organized resistance, there is no way forward except to destroy the integrity of the religious dictatorship with all factions, institutions, and repressive forces and its assassination, including the Quds Force terrorist force.
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