On Monday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi vowed revenge for the killing of a senior member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) who was gunned down in Tehran.
Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei was shot five times by unidentified gunmen on motorcycles in the heart of the Iranian capital on Sunday. No one has taken responsibility for the assassination, but Israel is suspected since it has a history of carrying out targeted killings inside Iran.
Raisi blamed the killing on “the hand of global arrogance,” a term used in Iran for the US and its allies, including Israel. “I have no doubt that revenge against the criminals for the blood of this martyr is assured,” Raisi said.
IRGC spokesman Ramazan Sharif appeared to blame Israel more directly. “The thugs and terrorist groups affiliated with global oppression and Zionism will face consequences for their actions,” Sharif said, according to Iran’s Mehr news agency.
In the wake of the assassination, Israel has raised security levels at its diplomatic facilities in other countries over fears of Iranian retaliation. Israeli media claimed Khodaei was involved in alleged Iranian plans to target an Israeli diplomat in Turkey.
The last known Israeli assassination inside Iran was the November 2020 killing of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Fakhrizadeh was killed during the final months of the Trump administration, and the assassination was seen as a last-minute attempt to provoke a response from Iran while President Trump, a staunch Israel supporter, was still in office.
The slaying of Khodayari came as indirect negotiations between the US and Iran to revive the nuclear deal are stalled.
The US and Iran also failed to reach a separate deal on removing the IRGC from a US list of foreign terrorist organizations. The Trump administration blacklisted the IRGC as terrorists in 2019. The sweeping designation means any current or former IRGC members are subject to US sanctions.