One of Iran‘s Revolutionary Guards, Colonel Sayad Khodai, was killed in a rare assassination in Tehran outside his home in a suspected Israeli planned strike. Khodai was known globally for his suspected involvement in kidnappings and killings of Jews and Israelis across the globe.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Monday that Tehran will avenge the death of the colonel who was shot dead by two people on a motorcycle.
“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.
The semi-official ISNA news agency said members of an Israeli intelligence service network had been discovered and arrested by the Guards.
The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, which oversees intelligence agency Mossad, declined to comment on the events in Tehran.
The killing on Sunday only reinforces the Guard’s determination to confront the enemies of Iran and to defend Iran‘s security and national interests, Guards spokesman Ramazan Sharif said, quoted by the semi-official Mehr news agency.
“The thugs and terrorist groups affiliated with global oppression and Zionism will face consequences for their actions,” he said.
Israeli media said Khodai headed a unit of the Quds Force – the Revolutionary Guards’ overseas arm – planning attacks on Israelis abroad.
The Jerusalem Post reports that the attack signals a shift in Israel’s defensive strategies:
Khodayari also commanded the Quds Force’s Unit 840, a relatively secret unit that builds terror infrastructure and plans attacks against Western targets and opposition groups outside Iran.
In April, Mansour Rasouli, a purported member of the IRGC who operated under Khodayari’s command in Unit 840, admitted to Mossad agents in his home in Iran that he was sent to target an Israeli diplomat in Turkey, an American general in Germany and a journalist in France.
Rasouli was later released and denied his earlier confession. But based on such allegations of collaboration, it is hard to imagine that the information he revealed did not somehow contribute to the Unit 840 chief’s assassination.
Khodayari’s brazen killing means Israel has expanded its war-between-the-wars campaign and begun targeting IRGC officials on their home turf.
The semi-official Tasnim news agency described Khodai as “one of the defenders of the shrines,” referring to military personnel or advisers who Iran says fight on its behalf to protect Shi’ite sites in Iraq or Syria against groups such as Islamic State.
Ram Ben-Barak, a former deputy Mossad chief who now heads the Israeli parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said Khodai was a familiar name.
“Yes, we know it. I don’t want to get into the details of what happened or who did what. An assassination happened. Should I say I’m sorry he’s no longer with us? I’m not sorry,” he told a local radio station.
At least six Iranian scientists and academics have been killed or attacked since 2010, several of them by assailants riding motorcycles, in attacks believed to have targeted Iran’s nuclear program, which the West says is aimed at producing a bomb.
Iran denies this, claiming the program has peaceful purposes, and has denounced the killings as acts of terrorism carried out by Western intelligence agencies and Mossad. Israel has declined comment on such accusations.
Henry Rome of the Eurasia Group said the assassination appeared to be Israeli retaliation against the Revolutionary Guards for regional and global operations.
This approach is in line with Israel’s strategy of countering Iran‘s actions not just in third countries but also inside Iran itself, attacking what Prime Minister Naftali Bennett calls the “head of the Octopus”, Rome said.
In March, Iran attacked Iraq’s northern city of Erbil with a dozen ballistic missiles in an assault on the capital of the autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region that appeared to target the United States and its allies.
Iranian state media said the Revolutionary Guards carried out the attack against Israeli “strategic centers” in Erbil, suggesting it was revenge for recent Israeli air strikes that killed Iranian military personnel in Syria.
Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters (Additions and edits for FISM News)