Iran IRGC Quds Force officer, Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodayari, was assassinated in Tehran outside his apartment this Saturday afternoon.
According to Iran state media, one of the senior members of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on a motorbike this Saturday.
The assassination happened in the heart of the capital of Iran, Tehran, in the afternoon around four o’clock when two people on a motorcycle opened fire on Khodayari and shot him five times.
The IRGC issued a statement on Sunday saying Hassan Sayyad Khodayari was assassinated by enemies of the Iran revolution.
In a statement confirming the “martyrdom” of Khodayari, the IRGC’s public relations department said that he was a defender of the shrine, a common term used for fighters associated with the Iranian military who have operated in Syria.
Furthermore, the statement condemned the act and blamed the so-called “counter-revolutionaries” affiliated with “global arrogance,” a term typically coded for the United States and Israel. Though there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, IRGC also asserted that they have launched an investigation to identify the “aggressor or aggressors”.
Speaking with Al Jazeera from Tehran, Abas Aslani, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Middle East Strategic Studies said that “the removal of an influential IRGC figure is aimed at creating psychological operation in the country.”
He further noted that “I think the timing is also very important, the government is making economic reforms that can be a potential for some protests in the country.”
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh also rebuked the assassination and said that “the sworn enemies of the holy system of the Islamic Republic of Iran once again showed their evil nature with the assassination and martyrdom of one of the members of the IRGC troops.”
According to an eyewitness to the incident “minutes before the assassination, as I was about to enter Gholamian Alley from Ghaen Street, I came across a car that was closing the width of the alley and while keeping the trunk door open, he kind of blocked every car to enter the ally.
Another witness of the assassination, who is one of Khodayari’s neighbors and also the first person to call the emergency services, said “I first heard several shots and when I reached the alley, I came across the half-dead body of Martyr Sayad and immediately called the emergency services.”
Who is the potential suspect?
Iranian prosecutors arrived at the crime scene within hours of the killing to investigate the witnesses.
But it seems Iran has already reached some clues regarding the assassination as Iran’s Intelligence Ministry announced they had discovered and captured a team of “thugs” linked with Israel’s Mossad related to Khodayari’s killing.
The Ministry said in a statement that the Israeli intelligence networks “were engaged in stealing and damaging public and private properties, kidnapping and getting forced confessions”.
The model of the assassination is a reminder of several previous acts of terror in Iran carried out by anonymous motorbike riders. Good to mention here that at least six Iranian scientists and academics have been killed or attacked since 2010 mostly by assailants riding motorcycles.
The last act of assassination of Iranian elites was conducted in November 2020 when Iran’s top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed near Tehran by a one-ton gun smuggled into Iran in pieces by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. Fakhrizadeh was regarded as one of the key figures in Iran’s nuclear program.