A colonel in Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force has been shot and killed in a daring assassination in Tehran. The attack took place in the center of Tehran in broad daylight.
Colonel Hassan Sayad Khodayari was assassinated on Sunday outside his home by two men on a motorcycle, shooting him five times in a targeted killing that Iran blamed on “elements linked to the global arrogance,” its term for the United States, Israel and other Western nations.
While no one has claimed responsibility for the killing of Khodayari, members of a supposed Israeli intelligence service network had been discovered and arrested by the IRGC according to the semi-official ISNA news agency Tasnim.
Khodayari was a senior member of Iran’s elite Quds Force, a clandestine external arm of the IRGC that carries out operations abroad. Quds Force operatives raise and support foreign militias, terrorist organizations, gather intelligence, conduct asymmetric warfare and targeted assassinations giving Iran plausible deniability for its operations abroad. The Quds Force operatives are Iran’s versions of American Green Berets or CIA paramilitary forces.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Monday that Iran will avenge the death of Khodayari.
“I have agreed for our security forces to seriously follow up on this matter and I have no doubt that revenge for the pure blood of our martyr will be taken,” Raisi said.
“I insist on the serious pursuit (of the killers) by security officials, and I have no doubt that the blood of this great martyr will be avenged,” Raisi said. “There is no doubt that the hand of global arrogance can be seen in this crime,” he added.
IRGC spokesman Ramazan Sharif said, “The martyrdom of Colonel Khodayari strengthens the determination of the Revolutionary Guards to defend security, independence and national interests and to confront the enemies of the Iranian nation,” he said. “The thugs and terrorist groups affiliated with global oppression and Zionism will face consequences for their actions.”
Since 2010, at least six Iranian scientists or academics, many tied to Iran’s nuclear agency have been assassinated, and the use of two men on a motorcycle has been a frequent means of targeting those killed. This latest killing is the highest profile killing since the late 2020 assassination of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
Because of his high profile, he always traveled with a team of bodyguards. However, in that attack, assailants used a remote-controlled vehicle with a machine gun mounted in the back. The attack was blamed on Israel but the Israelis denied responsibility. In this latest attack, the Israeli government declined to comment.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz was in New York City for the Celebrate Israel Parade, said, “the State of Israel is very strong. I’m not addressing all the various reports that appear in all sorts of places.”
Israeli media quoted unnamed sources that stated that Khodayari was responsible for planned kidnappings and other attempts to attack Israeli and Jewish targets worldwide. Israel’s Channel 13 news said that one of the operatives under Khodayari’s control was Mansour Rasouli.
He was reportedly interrogated by Israeli Mossad agents at his home in Iran and admitted that Khodayari planned to lure Israeli academics to be kidnapped or assassinated. He also plotted to kill five Israelis in Cyprus and had recently returned from Syria.
Quds Force commander Major General Qassem Soleimani was targeted and killed by an American cruise missile in January 2020 shortly after landing in Baghdad, Iraq. Soleimani was responsible for the death of hundreds of American soldiers.
Written by Steve Balestrieri