A video disseminated widely on social media appears to show the body of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani being flown back to Iran aboard an economy class flight.
Babak Taghvaee, a correspondent for Greek aviation and defense magazine Ptisi Diastima, posted the footage to Twitter on Sunday.
Corpse of Qasem #Soleimani, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and others arrived at Qadr Air Base of #IRGC Aerospace Force in #Mehrabad International Airport of #Tehran. EP-MNG is an Airbus A300B4-603 of #MahanAir which was used to transfer the corpses from #Mashhad to #Tehran tonight. pic.twitter.com/CR5QUiY5Ka
— Babak Taghvaee (@BabakTaghvaee) January 5, 2020
According to Taghvaee, the footage was shot on a Mahan Air flight and shows coffins containing the bodies of Soleimani and others killed in a U.S. air strike on Thursday.
The bodies were placed atop passenger seats, instead of being loaded into baggage compartments, and arrived at Mehrabad International Airport in Tehran on Sunday, Taghvaee said.
Emblazoned on the coffins were the faces of Soleimani and Abu-Mahdi Al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Forces who was also killed in the U.S. strike.
“The only way I’d fly @United again,”
Commenters on social media reacted with a mixture of disbelief, revulsion and macabre humor.
Looks like some sort of memorial video of them
— Watermelon (@MGWatermelonn) January 5, 2020
“This is what happens when you don’t sign up to collect the air miles,” tweeted Charles C.W. Cooke, editor of NationalReview.com.
“two day free shipping,” said Miami radio host Joe Johnson in a tongue-in-cheek tweet.
Overhead bin Laden
— Hugh MFB (@hughknowit) January 6, 2020
“I’m hoping they charged him for multiple seats. If not, I’m not checking my guitar next time!” tweeted musician Benton Blount.
“The only way I’d fly United again,” quipped one commenter.
After his weight loss from the Hellfire strike, I’m sure he could fit in the overhead bin quite comfortably.
— War Artist (@SunziThoughts) January 6, 2020
“They had to wait a couple of days because it was a non-smoking flight,” tweeted another.
One Pizza and one hot dog pic.twitter.com/AO3uJ8RRwI
— کامران ایازی ? (@kamranayazi69) January 6, 2020
“What does it feel like to be on a flight, with terrorists, who can’t take out the aircraft? I’d feel pretty safe,” said one commenter.
Uproar and celebration over Solemani’s death
Soleimani died in the U.S. drone strike at Baghdad airport along with Iranian-backed Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. On Sunday, hundreds mourned Soleimani’s remains in the streets of Iran.
Democratic presidential contenders on Friday called Trump’s strike reckless and warned it could lead the United States to another war in the Middle East. Liberal activists protested in Washington, D.C., and other U.S. cities on Saturday, and some celebrities spoke out in support of Iran and against their own country.
However, national security expert David Reaboi said on Twitter that “Iranians are baking cakes and calling for 3 days of celebrations.” Reaboi posted a number of photos from social media of what he called the “Iranian celebratory cakes.”
More Iranian celebratory cakes! pic.twitter.com/jtFkZ8OhoJ
— David Reaboi (@davereaboi) January 3, 2020
The Farashgard Foundation, an international political action network that advocates democracy in Iran, also said on Twitter, “Iranians all over Iran are celebrating #QassemSoleimani’s death by handing out cakes, treats & pizza slices!”
The group tweeted a half dozen images of the baked goods.
Soleimani, 62, was Iran’s pre-eminent military leader – head of the Revolutionary Guards’ overseas Quds Force and the architect of Iran’s spreading influence in the Middle East. Muhandis was de facto leader of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces umbrella body of paramilitary groups.