“This kind of publicity endangers Israel,” said the country’s defense officials.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Israel is reportedly demanding that the Biden administration explain an intelligence leak to The New York Times Wednesday regarding the assassination Sunday of a top Iranian terrorist operative.
Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei was reportedly shot five times in his car outside his home in Tehran by men on two motorcycles who then fled the scene and have yet to be caught.
While the mullahs immediately blamed “the hand of global arrogance” – code for Israel and the United States – Jerusalem remained mum, as it has for other sudden deaths of senior Iranian officials such as scientists involved in Iran’s nuclear program.
An unnamed intelligence official told the Times that Israeli officials had informed the administration that they were behind the targeted killing of Khodaei. Arutz 7 identified the official as being involved in a secretive communications channel between the allies dedicated to operations in Iran.
The purpose of the hit, the intelligence official said, was to send a message to the Iranians that it must halt the activities of Unit 840 in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force.
While the IRGC said that Khodaei was involved in Syrian operations, some media reports have tagged him as second in command of the unit. The IDF says Unit 840 is in charge of planning and carrying out kidnappings and assassinations of Israelis and other foreigners outside of Iran.
According to an Iran International TV report based on European security sources, the senior Quds Force commander was behind a series of bombings in February 2012 aimed at Israeli diplomats in the capitals of Thailand, Georgia and India. He was also reportedly involved in unsuccessful plots to attack Israelis in several Central Asian countries and Africa.
Speaking diplomatically to the Hebrew press, Israeli defense officials said, “Professional authorities were updated as part of a working relationship regarding the assassination of the senior Iranian official.”
While the Times report had not mentioned the nationality of its source, the officials said point-blank, “The Americans are behind the article” in the paper.
This is “a serious and worrying process and it should not happen,” they continued. “This kind of publicity endangers Israel, it must not happen. Similar messages have been passed on to the Americans.”
The immediate concern is that while Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has already promised to retaliate for Khodaei’s murder, having American confirmation of the perpetrators – or at least those who sent them to do the job – could only increase Tehran’s desire to repay Israel for its loss.