UPDATE: Muhammad Sahimi has confirmed that the victim, Mojtaba Ahmadi was the commander of an IRG intelligence unit in Karaj, a town west of Tehran. The place also hosts a prison for political detainees.
Ahmadi clearly was murdered (a picture of his funeral is displayed here). But the IRG says he was not assassinated. My own Israeli source says that he was (see below) and by the Mossad. Israel certainly has motivation to commit such a killing and has done so before.
But no Iranian media source has confirmed the Telegraph claim that Ahmadi was the leader of Iran’s cyber-war unit nor that he was assassinated. The Telegraph report that he was a cyberwar commander was based on condolence messages published by personnel of that IRG unit on a Facebook page. I have not been able to confirm this either.
The Telegraph journalists who reported this story have a rather spotty previous record of Iran reporting. So all I can do is report all this information, allow readers to read the post below and make their own judgment. In time, what really happened will become clear.
Those boys of the Mossad have been busy assassinating Iranians again. This time, according to a confidential Israeli source, they murdered the IRG commander, Mojtaba Ahmadi, who ran its cyberwar unit. For Farsi speakers, here’s the original report. My source drops a further bombshell (which I haven’t yet been able to confirm independently), that the CIA “tacitly” approved the hit because of the extraordinarily intense level of sabotage by Iran of commercial interests from Saudi’s Aramco to U.S. banks. The attack was approved by Bibi Netanyahu several months ago. Its timing, during an auspicious thaw in U.S.-Iran relations, supposedly wasn’t intentional (if you can believe that!).
If you seek tacit indications of Israeli involvement note this celebratory front-age report in Bibiton (Yisrael HaYom) announcing the IRG assassination. The headline might as well have said: “Bib did it!”
Earlier Mossad hits were performed with the inside assistance of local MeK agents who did the actual dirty work. The involvement of two men on motorbikes (a known method of Mossad surveillance and assassination for decades) who were the killers, mirrors the methods of execution of previous Iranian scientists. If the MeK played a role it would be significant since it would be the first known terror attack in which it had participated since being delisted by the State Department from the U.S. terror list.
If U.S. intelligence in any way approved of the killing, this too would be significant because it would mark the first known instance in which a state targeted the cyberwar personnel of another for assassination. As I predicted in blog posts here months ago, the arc of cyberwar activism is bending toward escalation and increased lethality. Not only are the stakes high as nations begin attacking each other in earnest in order to maximize damage to infrastructure, etc. but they are equally high if countries begin murdering the cyber-war personnel of enemy nations. If the IRG’s cyber commander is a legitimate target, then so are NSA and IDF Unit 8200 officials. In case, anyone disputes Iran’s ability to commit such an act, remember that Iran isn’t the only country involved in cyber-war operations. China as well as many other nations do the same things. They have significantly greater capabilities than Iran. And once we’ve breached a taboo and killed Iranians, it’s not far to begin killing others.
This marks a desperate new low in Israeli exploitation of terror in order to take a slap at the IRG and sabotage possible Iran-U.S. rapprochment. The murdered commander will be viewed as a martyr, his subordinates will redouble their efforts to improve and intensify their cyberwar capabilities. Instead of marking a bold offensive move by the Mossad to attack the enemy on his home turf, it will be seen by Iranians as yet another Israeli provocation and proof that Israel is a rogue state never to be trusted for anything.
Finally, let everyone remember the next time Bibi brays about Iranian terrorism that his own country has succeeded in far more lethal operations and created far more Iranian widows and orphans than anything Iran has done. This is state terror, plain and simple.
In a related matter, another bombshell (Hebrew) dropped today. Israel media reported that senior Israeli security officials met in Israel with a high-level Gulf state official to coordinate a military strategy against Iran. Israel’s Channel 2 TV news also said the official, from state with no diplomatic relations with Israel, came to Israel for the consultations. Though the reports did not name him, my source says that he was none other than the infamous Prince Bandar ibn Sultan. Lately he’s been known as one of the primary arms suppliers for the Syrian rebels. But his secret portfolio includes all Saudi security engagements in the region including Iran and Syria. This would mark the first time such a senior Saudi official has broken the Arab taboo against visiting Israel.
The Israeli reports claims that the meetings mean that Israel might be planning to coordinate its plans to attack Iran with Saudi Arabia. That, in fact, there might be a joint attack. Frankly, I think that’s hogwash, though I can’t prove it. It’s much more likely they were meeting to figure out how to continue the anti-Iran front Israel has been working for several years to bolster among the Gulf states. Given that the U.S. and Iran may be embarking on a process of reconciliation that could lead to a lessening of tensions and resolution of the nuclear conflict, both Israel and Saudi are probably trying to figure out where they go next.
It’s also likely that Bandar and the Israelis met about Syria since they’re now on record as being among the strongest supporters of the rebels. There is much more that Israel can do to damage Assad than it has already done. I’m certain Bandar would love to engage Israel more deeply in the anti-Assad alliance. For its part, though Israel has made a studied attempt to appear neutral in the fight (despite attacking Syrian and Iranian forces on Syria territory at least five times in the past year), Israel’s latest full-throated support of a U.S. air assault on Assad tore the curtain on that claim.