DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (AP) – Iran’s hard-line president vowed revenge yesterday over the killing of a senior Revolutionary Guard member gunned down in the heart of Tehran the day before, a still-mysterious attack on the country’s powerful paramilitary force.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi hailed Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei as a martyr and blamed “the hand of global arrogance”, a reference to the United States and its allies, including Israel, for his slaying.
There has been no claim of responsibility for the killing, carried out on Sunday afternoon by two unidentified gunmen on a motorbike. They shot Khodaei five times in a car, an unarmoured SAIPA Pride – among the cheapest, most-common Iranian vehicles.
But the style of the brazen attack bore the hallmarks of previous slayings in Iran blamed on Israel, such as those targetting the country’s nuclear scientists. “I have no doubt that revenge against the criminals for the blood of this martyr is assured,” Raisi said before leaving Tehran for a state visit to Oman, a strategic Gulf Arab state that traditionally mediates between Tehran and the West.
His remarks signalled Khodaei’s prominence in the murky structure of the Guard, which exerts extensive control inside Iran and across the Middle East via allied militias.
In yet another sign of Khodaei’s power, Tehran city council announced it would name a street after him.
The Guard identified Khodaei as a “defender of the shrine”, a reference to Iranians who fight against the extremist Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq within the elite Quds force that oversees operations abroad.
While Iran has yet to offer any definitive biographic information on Khodaei, Israeli media on Sunday night ran simultaneous stories alleging Khodaei had organised plots against Israeli diplomats, businesspeople and other foreign officials abroad.