Assassin on a Motorbike: Considerations for the Safety State of affairs in Tehran After the Assassination of an Officer

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has vowed to “revenge” for the killing of a senior Revolutionary Guards officer in Tehran.

Official sources said that Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khadi was shot dead by two motorcyclists in the east of the capital on Sunday.

“I have no doubts that the blood of this great martyr will be avenged,” President Ibrahim Raisi said on state television.

Although there are few details about the broad daylight attack in the heart of the Iranian capital, “global arrogance” – a typical US-Israeli label – has been blamed for the killing.

This claim and the sequence of events indicate a connection to other killings in Iran previously attributed to Israel. For example, attacks on several nuclear scientists in the country. But at the moment, there was no acknowledgment of this fact.

According to state media, the two attackers shot Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodayi five times from a motorbike in his unarmored Iranian-made vehicle. The act took place on a monitored road on which the Iranian parliament is also located.

Reports referred to Khodaei as a “defender of the sanctuary,” a reference to the Iranians battling the extremist Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq within the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds unit, which oversees foreign operations.

There was little publicly available information about Khadaei because Jerusalem officers are usually shadowy figures who carry out clandestine military missions in support of the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah and other militias in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.

The Tehran Public Prosecutor arrived at the scene within hours of the killing to start an investigation and urged the police to arrest the perpetrators immediately. The speed of the investigation indicates that Khodaei played an important role in the opaque structure of the Guards’ operations abroad.

These operations have come under frequent fire from Israeli air strikes in Syria. An Israeli air strike near the Syrian capital, Damascus, in March killed two members of the Revolutionary Guards, prompting Iran to respond by launching a barrage of missiles into northern Iraq.

State television stated that security forces chased after the suspected attackers, without giving further details or the motive behind the killing.

At about the same time, official media reported that the Revolutionary Guards’ security forces had tracked down and arrested members of an Israeli intelligence network operating in the country, without specifying if they had anything to do with the assassination of Khodaei.

Since the murder of nuclear physicist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the colonel has become the most important figure declared dead by Tehran in Iran. He was killed near the capital in November 2020 in an attack on his motorcade that Iran blamed on Israel, its rival.

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