An officer in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps who was killed in Tehran last week oversaw the group’s attempts to assassinate Israeli businessmen around the world, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday
Col Sayad Khodai was a senior member of the Quds force — a wing of the IRGC which specialises in unconventional warfare — and was allegedly involved in a foiled plot to kill Israeli businessmen in Cyprus in late 2021.
An Azerbaijani national who had links with the plot was arrested in Cyprus. He was found with a pistol in his possession, the WSJ reported.
Iran and the suspect denied having any links to the incident.
Khodai allegedly planned kidnapping and killings for a secretive Quds Force team called Unit 840.
He was believed to have recruited agents in Colombia and Cyprus, mostly to target Israelis but also other people who had been threatened by Iran.
It remains unclear whether any of Khodai's targeted killing operations resulted in a person's death, according to the WSJ.
Khodai was killed in Tehran on Sunday.
In a statement posted on its website, the IRGC said Khodai “was assassinated in an armed attack carried out by two motorcyclists on Mojahedin-e Eslam street in Tehran”, outside his home.
The IRGC described Khodai as a “defender of the sanctuary” — a term used for anyone who works on behalf of Iran in Syria or Iraq.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi promised revenge for the killing.
“I have no doubt that revenge for the pure blood of this martyr on the hands of the criminals is inevitable,” Mr Raisi said.
Iran called on the international community to “condemn such brutal assassinations targeting innocent citizens of other countries” in a letter to the United Nations last Wednesday.
Khodai was “a member of the Iranian Armed Forces who played a significant role in the fight against terrorism and ISIS in the region,” the letter said.