The senior officer in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps who was killed in a dramatic assassination on Sunday was actively involved in planning kidnappings and terror attacks against Jews and Israelis worldwide, Israeli media reported.
Col. Hassan Sayad Khodayari was considered the second-highest ranking commander in the Quds Force’s overseas attack unit and had a close relationship with Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani. He was responsible for attempts to kidnap and assassinate Israelis abroad, including in Africa, South Africa, Cyprus, Turkey, and Columbia. He also oversaw Quds operations in Iraq and Syria.
Israel’s Channel 13 News reported that Khodayari directed Quds operative Mansour Rasouli, who was arrested and interrogated by the Mossad on Iranian soil last month. Rasouli admitted to Mossad agents that he was recruited by the Quds Force to carry out a plot to eliminate an Israeli diplomat in Turkey, a US general stationed in Germany, and a journalist in France.
Khodayari also masterminded the recently uncovered attempt to lure Israeli academics and former defense officials abroad in order to kidnap them.
Iran’s outrage over Khodayari’s assassination was apparently so deep that the chief judge of the Tehran province ordered Tehran’s chief prosecutor to “expedite the identification and arrest of the assassins” and the prosecutor himself showed up at the assassination scene to gather evidence.
Many commentators have noted the ease with which foreign agents eliminated a senior Revolutionary Guards officer in broad daylight, in a location that should be relatively secure. “The Iranians are stupefied by the temerity of the assassins,” a political commentator said. “They haven’t yet recovered from the assassination of senior scientist Mohsen Fakrizadeh in 2020 and now it happens again, in the heart of Tehran.”
Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi threatened on Monday morning that Iran will avenge Khodayari’s assassination. “I have no doubt that the blood of this great martyr will be avenged,” he said.
Iranian media outlets also quoted an official who said that Khodayari’s elimination “crossed a red line” and it will “change many equations” and those responsible “will pay a heavy price.”
Israeli defense officials refused to comment on the assassination but former defense officials felt free to comment. “I don’t know who carried out the assassination but they did a great job,” former IDF chief of staff and defense minister Boogie Ya’alon told Army Radio on Monday morning. “Iran is the main cause of instability in the Middle East – and Israel has found itself in a situation of ‘אם אין אני לי מי לי'”
“The Iranians will try to take revenge,” military commentator Tal Lev-Ram of Maariv said in an interview with Radio 103FM. “Revenge could be via missiles or other ways. This incident will hover over us for a long time.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)