Iran Vows Revenge Over Guard Killing 05/23 06:04
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Iran's hard-line president vowed revenge
on Monday 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 Col. 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 unarmored 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 targeting the country's nuclear
"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 the
sultanate of Oman, a strategic Gulf Arab state that traditionally mediates
between Tehran and the West.
His remarks signaled 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 organized plots against Israeli diplomats, businesspeople and other
foreign officials abroad.
The news reports, all of which ran without attribution, suggest Israeli
intelligence officials briefed journalists on the Iranian colonel. There was no
official comment from the Israeli government.
Iran has accused Israel of carrying out similar motorbike slayings targeting
Iranian nuclear scientists a decade ago. In the last year, Iran blamed Israel
for a particularly high-tech killing that targeted Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the
country's chief nuclear scientist that masterminded the Islamic Republic's
disbanded military nuclear program. A remote-controlled machine gun killed him
on a country road.
While Tehran has reacted with condemnation, officials have not acknowledged
Khodaei's particular loss to the Guard. Iran will hold a funeral ceremony on
Tuesday, local media reported.
Two of Khodaei's neighbors jolted on Sunday by the sound of gunshots told
state TV they had no idea he was a military man. One of them, an unidentified
woman, told reporters she had suspected a brutal robbery as she caught a
glimpse of the assailant speeding away from Khodaei's shattered car windows.
The killing of Khodaei comes at a fraught time for the country. Negotiations
with the Biden administration aimed at restoring the tattered nuclear agreement
remain deadlocked, apparently over whether to lift the U.S. terrorism
designation on the Guard. The European Union's envoy for the nuclear talks
visited Tehran earlier this month in hopes of finding a compromise, apparently
With Israel's support, former President Donald Trump withdrew America from
Tehran's nuclear accord with world powers in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions.
The stranglehold of U.S. sanctions along with government mismanagement has
led to soaring inflation, high youth unemployment and rising poverty. Raisi's
administration has struggled to halt the economic tailspin.
With pressures mounting in the wake of Russia's war on Ukraine and global
supply chain snarls, the Iranian government last month slashed subsidies for
imported wheat and raised prices as as much as 300% for other food staples.
The move deepened economic despair and public anger, prompting sporadic
protests against the government across several provinces.
As the Iranian currency, the rial, shrivels in value and people watch their
incomes diminish with surging prices, strikes over salary disputes among bus
drivers and teachers have gained traction. Security forces have cracked down
with arrests and officials have downplayed the unrest, with Raisi over the
weekend saying that "hard decisions" needed to be taken even if people
The sultanate of Oman, where American and Iranian diplomats quietly drew up
Tehran's nuclear deal -- signed in 2015 by Iran and six world powers -- gave
Raisi a royal welcome on Monday as he touched down in Muscat.
He met Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said to sign preliminary oil and gas
deals and boost relations with the neutral country, known to deftly navigate
the region's political and sectarian conflicts.