One more mysterious death to add to that of five nuclear scientists and the head of the Islamic Republic's ballistic missile program. However, the Revolutionary Guard, 12 hours after the first reports, is saying it wasn't an assassination.
Since 2007, Iran has been accusing the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, of the assassination of people tied to Iran's disputed nuclear industry. Recently, Mojtaba Ahmadi, the commander of the Cyber War Headquarters, was found dead in the woods near Karaj, a town north-west of the capital of Iran, Tehran. Ahmadi had two bullets in the heart, according to local sources.
According to The Daily Telegraph:
The death of Ahmadi, a leading specialist in cyber defences, could be an extension of this campaign of subterfuge. Iran has been accused of carrying out a number of cyber attacks detected in the West. Shashank Joshi, an expert at the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi), said this was seen as a lesser threat than the nuclear programme. “Iran’s cyber attacks on Israel and elsewhere in the region are a rising threat and a growing threat, but it hasn’t yet been seen as a major and sustained onslaught, so it would be pretty novel and significant to take this step in the field of cyber-warfare at this time,” he said.
However, in a statement posted on the Alborz website, a site that has strong links to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the authorities are trying to quash rumors that Ahmadi, an important official in the organization, had been assassinated:
“This statement denies all the news about assassinating one of our workers after a very sudden incident happened to him,” the Imam Hassan Mojtaba division of the Revolutionary Guards Corps said.
“We are investigating the incident and the intention of the attacker or attackers.” The Revolutionary Guards also issued a statement warning against prematurely assigning blame to anyone.
So, it seems that some 12 hours after the first reports emerged in western media that Ahmadi had been assassinated, the Iranians are pouring cold water on the reports.