Iran confirms ‘martyrdom’ of aerospace scientist who died in suspicious circumstances

Officials presented scientist’s family with with a certificate confirming his “martyrdom,” a label not used for accidental deaths.


Iranian authorities have confirmed the “martyrdom” of an Iranian aerospace scientist who died last week in suspicious circumstances, Iran International reported on Sunday.

Ayoob Entezari, who held a PhD in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Tehran’s Sharif University, “returned home after a dinner meeting with symptoms of food poisoning and died in hospital in Yazd as his condition worsened,” according to the report. “Some sources” also reported that the individual who had invited Entezari to the party had subsequently fled the country, it continued.

The London-based outlet noted that there were conflicting reports circulating with regard to Entezari’s death, with some calling it an assassination and the government calling it an illness.

However, the report noted that despite the government’s official stance, the Yazd governor-general’s office had presented Entezari’s family with a certificate confirming his “martyrdom.” This, the report continued, is a label not used for accidental deaths.

Yazd local judicial authorities on Sunday rejected claims that Enezari was working on unmanned aerial vehicles and missiles, claiming that he was instead an “ordinary employee of an industrial company and died in hospital due to illness,” said the report.

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On Friday, Iranian opposition media outlets claimed that a second Iranian scientist, nuclear expert Kamran Malafor, who worked at the Natanz uranium enrichment site in Isfahan, died under mysterious circumstances as well.

Last week, Iranian state media reported that a colonel in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ infamous black-ops arm, the Quds Force, died “in an incident in recent days” at his home. Iran International cited sources inside of Iran as saying that the IRGC had killed Ali Esmailzadeh, over suspicions of espionage, telling the officer’s family his death was a suicide.

Esmailzadeh was a “close colleague” of Col. Hassan Sayyad-Khodaei, the acting commander of the elite Quds Force Unit 840, according to the report.

Khodaei was shot dead by two unknown assailants on a motorbike on May 22 outside of his Tehran home.

An unnamed intelligence official told The New York Times last week that the hit was meant as a warning to Iran to halt the operations of Unit 840—a covert group within the Quds Force. According to the Israeli government, the Israel Defense Forces and intelligence officials, Unit 840 is tasked with abductions and assassinations of foreigners around the world, including Israeli civilians and officials.

Israel’s Counter-Terror Bureau warned on May 30 of a “tangible threat” to the safety of Israelis in Turkey due to Iranian revenge plots, urging travelers to be extra vigilant and to avoid non-essential travel to the country.