A British newspaper claimed late Wednesday that the commander of Iran’s Cyber War Headquarters had been found dead in a suspected assassination northwest of Tehran.
It named the man as Mojtaba Ahmadi, said he had gone missing on Saturday, and reported that his body was discovered in a wooded area near the town of Karaj. He had been shot twice through the heart at close range by two people on a motorbike, the UK report said, quoting Alborz, a website linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. “I could see two bullet wounds on his body and the extent of his injuries indicated that he had been assassinated from a close range with a pistol,” an eyewitness was quoted as telling the Iranian website.
News of the killing, the Telegraph said, was “triggering further accusations that outside powers are carrying out targeted assassinations of key figures in the country’s security apparatus.”
The report was immediately and widely quoted in Israel, including on various websites. It was the first item on Channel 2’s midnight news. However, there was no immediate confirmation of the Telegraph report from other independent sources.
Curiously, in January 2012, the similarly named Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, an Iranian nuclear scientist and a director of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran, was assassinated when a bomb was affixed to his car by two assailants on a motorbike in Tehran.
In August of 2012, the family of Ahmadi-Roshan and relatives of several other slain Iranian nuclear scientists announced that they had filed a lawsuit against Israel, the US and Britain accusing them of involvement in the assassination of their loved ones.
The dead man’s father, Rahim Ahmadi-Roshan, told a press conference in Tehran that the families had demanded that Iran’s judiciary pursue their complaint through international bodies and bring those behind the killings to justice. “We’ve filed an indictment against the Zionist regime and the arrogant powers,” Ahmadi-Roshan told reporters.”
The Iranian government has accused Israel of several recent assassinations, including that of Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan and four other nuclear scientists, and the head of the country’s ballistic missiles program.
The Telegraph report Wednesday said that “the Facebook page of the officers of the Cyber War Headquarters confirmed that Ahmadi had been one of their commander[s] and posted messages of condolence. But Alborz users warned that the openly accessible book of condolence could harm Iran’s national security. ‘Stop giving more information about him. The counter-revolutionaries will take advantage of his murder,’ said one post. ‘It sounds like a hit job for a security officer of this importance.'”
Subsequently, said the British newspaper report, a statement from the Revolutionary Guards “said that Ahmadi’s death was being investigated. It warned against speculating ‘prematurely about the identity of those responsible for the killing.’ Western officials said the information was still being assessed.”
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed at the UN General Assembly that Israel would stop Iran’s nuclear drive on its own if necessary. “Israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us out,” he said. Still, he stressed, he did not dismiss the diplomatic-sanctions route. “We all want to give diplomacy with Iran a chance to succeed,” he said.
On Wednesday, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani responded unequivocally to Netanyahu’s UN speech, promising to continue what Iran insists is a peaceful nuclear program with “full power.”
“Israel is upset to see that its sword has gone blunt and Iran grows more powerful day by day,” Rouhani told reporters in Tehran, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.