The anger is great. As well as the desire for revenge. But the resentment about one’s own inadequacy is likely to be even greater. Because the Iranian security services have experienced a debacle. They could not prevent a hit squad from striking in the middle of the capital, Tehran, and killing a high-ranking Revolutionary Guard officer. Two motorcyclists killed Colonel Sajjad Chodai in his car with five shots and escaped undetected.
The elite unit of the Shiite theocracy blamed “elements with connections to global arrogance” for the “terrorist act” – meaning the USA and its allies, above all Israel as arch-enemy. In fact, the assassination bears the signature of the Mossad. Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi immediately announced retaliation.
A few days have passed since then – and it seems that Tehran’s leadership is serious about revenge. In Israel at least, the security authorities are alarmed and are advising citizens of the Jewish state not to travel to Turkey, for example. There are serious and concrete indications that Iran could try to attack Israelis abroad, it said.
The warnings are no accident. The “Zionists” are now even being threatened with disturbing frankness. Iran’s semi-official news agency Fars recently published details of five Israelis targeted by the Islamic Republic. They are under close surveillance, along with their families and friends. There were also photos of the men with the word “Wanted”.
Experts do not rule out that a new round in the shadow war between the two countries could be imminent. Because the mullah regime cannot leave the murder in Tehran unanswered – the embarrassment weighs too heavily. After all, the assassination exposed the weaknesses of the security apparatus: it is obviously not in a position to prevent attacks by foreign agents on its own territory. Even senior members of the armed forces are not sure of their lives.
There is much speculation in the Israeli media and international think tanks as to why Colonel Khodai was killed. It is said that the officer of the Quds Brigades – the Revolutionary Guards’ special unit for foreign operations – coordinated drone attacks. A few weeks before Chodai’s death, a renamed aircraft reportedly entered the airspace of the Jewish state.
Analyzes repeatedly emphasize that Khodai was seen as a general threat to Israelis and Jews worldwide. Accordingly, the 50-year-old belonged to Unit 840 and is said to have been responsible for kidnappings and attacks. That alone should have made him a legitimate target from Jerusalem’s point of view.
In the Middle East, Syria was probably one of his areas of operations. According to the Jerusalem Post newspaper, the commander organized the arms smuggling there, among other things. This is exactly what Israel is trying to prevent with air strikes again and again. This is primarily intended to prevent the build-up of the Lebanese terrorist militia Hezbollah.
If Israel is actually responsible for Chodai’s death, the attack could represent a change of course, or at least a new component in the shadow war. To date, most of the Jewish state’s covert actions have been aimed at sabotaging Iran’s nuclear program – be it through cyber attacks, attacks on nuclear facilities or the elimination of leading scientists.
In November 2020, the murder of nuclear physicist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was considered a kind of father of Iran’s nuclear program, attracted a lot of attention. He died on a country road near the capital, presumably from a remote-controlled weapon.
According to observers, the death of officer Chodai sends another message to Tehran: The Islamic Republic’s striving for hegemony in the Middle East is not without reaction – and the fight against it can be carried deep into Iran at any time.