JERUSALEM, Israel – A senior member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was killed outside his home by gunmen on a motorbike on Sunday, Iranian state TV reported.
According to Iranian media reports, two unidentified assailants shot Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei five times in his car on a street near Iran’s parliament. The IRGC gave few details about the attack, but blamed the killing on “global arrogance,” a code typically referring to the United States and Israel.
On Monday, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisa vowed to avenge Khodaei’s death.
“I insist on the serious pursuit (of the killers) by security officials, and I have no doubt that the blood of this great martyr will be avenged,” Raisi said. “There is no doubt that the hand of global arrogance can be seen in this crime.”
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. However, it raised suspicions that Israel could be involved. Israel has previously been accused of assassinating Iran’s top nuclear scientists.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz refused to comment when asked about the killing by Channel 12 news.
Little is known publicly about Khodaei but Israeli media reported that he was behind plots to target Israelis and Jews abroad.
According to Channel 12, Khodaei was responsible for a plan by Iranian operatives to potentially kidnap Israeli businesspeople, academics and other leaders.
The report said he was also behind an alleged plot to kill several Israelis in Cyprus.
The IRGC is a powerful political and military force in Iran responsible for the country’s shadowy overseas operations. Former President Donald Trump designated the organization a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
Tehran has demanded that the Biden administration remove the IRGC from the terror blacklist as a condition for restoring the Iranian nuclear deal – which was designed to restrict Iran’s nuclear development in exchange for sanctions relief.
Talks to revive the nuclear deal have been stalled for more than two months.
The White House has indicated that it will not remove the IRGC from the terror list. On Sunday, Gantz told Israeli media after meeting with US officials in Washington that the Biden administration is standing firm against Iran’s demand.
“I think they would still be happy to see an agreement but they are quite decisive, especially on this issue of the Revolutionary Guards and al-Quds forces. I think they are right to be in this position,” Gantz told The Times of Israel.