Iran is vowing to avenge what it's describing as a brazen assassination of a Revolutionary Guard colonel conducted by a foreign intelligence service. Col. Sayad Khodai was reportedly a commander in the elite Quds Force, which is the foreign intelligence wing of the IRGC. Israeli media is claiming that he had "planned attacks on Jews and Israelis worldwide."
The Sunday killing took place in Tehran when the IRGC colonel was approach by two unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle who shot him in the head. "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," the country's President Ibrahim Raisi said in a speech.
The military is blaming Israeli intelligence for the killing, with semi-official ISNA news agency claiming that the Guards subsequently uncovered and arrested spies backed by Israeli intelligence. Israel has not commented on the fresh accusations.
"The thugs and terrorist groups affiliated with global oppression and Zionism will face consequences for their actions," Raisi continued.
According to details of the killing in BBC based on state sources, a pair of gunmen on a motorcycle pulled up beside Khodai as he sat in his car outside his home:
Iran's state news agency, Irna, reported that Col Khodai was shot with five bullets as he was getting out of his car in eastern Tehran at around 16:00 (11:30 GMT) on Sunday.
It published photos showing a man slumped in the driver's seat of a Kia Pride. The front passenger side window appeared to have been shot out.
Irna provided no details about Khodai's role within the Quds Force, although he was called a "defender of the shrine" – a term used to describe Iran military personnel and Iran-backed militia fighters operating in Syria or Iraq.
The hit is being viewed in Iran as the biggest foreign sponsored assassination since the killing of top Iran nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in 2020. Israel was widely acknowledged as behind that killing which took place in a Tehran suburb.
Iran has a security probelm in its own capital. Another assassination in Tehran, this time against an IRGC colonel. Let than 2 years ago, Israel killed al Qaeda's deputy leader in an assassination in Tehran. https://t.co/RorHqf1qP8
— Bill Roggio (@billroggio) May 23, 2022
At this point there's been at least a half-dozen top Iranian scientists and academics killed in brazen assassination scenarios – believed to be part of a covert program to degrade the Islamic Republic's nuclear advancement capabilities. Increasingly Israel has also targeted IRGC commanders as well as Iran-sponsored top Hamas operatives.