Photo Credit: Tasnim News Agency
Iran's second launch of a satellite on the "Zuljanah" rocket, announced June 26, 2022

Said Samardar Mutalag, a missile engineer working for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) died in recent days in the city of Shiraz in Iran, several reports say, the latest Iranian scientist tied to the country’s weapons program to die of mysterious circumstances.

Local Iranian media reported that he was assassinated, but there is no confirmation of the reports. Some of the reports related to him as a “Shahid,” a warrior killed in battle.

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In related news, Iran claimed that it had arrested members of a “sabotage team” sent by the Israeli Mossad through the Iraqi border to hit targets in the country.

A short announcement by the Intelligence Ministry stated Saturday that “a network from the spy agency of the Zionist regime who were sent to the country for terrorist operations” were arrested.

“This network’s members were in contact with the Mossad spy agency through a neighboring country and entered Iran from the Kurdistan region with advanced equipment and strong explosives,” the statement said.

Since March, Iran has made three similar claims without presenting any evidence or information.

The Intelligence ministry’s announcement came two days after Iran International reported on July 21 that the Mossad had captured Yadollah Khedmati, deputy commander of the IRGC Logistics, on Iranian soil and interrogated him about weapons shipments from Iran to its proxies in the region, including to Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen. After the interrogation, he was released.

Iranian government media on Saturday confirmed the report, saying that criminal elements had detained the IRGC officer.

The report on Mutalag’s death is the latest in a series on Iranian security, military, and nuclear officials who have died recently in circumstances shrouded in secrecy.

In later June, a member of the Iranian Ministry of Defense named Ehsan Ghadbeigi was killed in a research unit in the Parchin area, and another member was injured in late May due to “industrial sabotage” in one of the production lines.

Rashid Islam Pasdaran, “Ali Kamani”, a member of the IRGC Aerospace Unit, “died in a car accident” in Khomein city earlier in June, and Mohammad Abdous, an employee of the Semnan Air Defense Base in northern Iran, was declared as being “martyred” on the same day. Iran’s defense ministry emphasized that both officers died “on a mission” and called them both “martyrs” without providing an explanation.

Iran International reported that the two were engaged in “developing arms for Lebanon’s Hezbollah.”

Iranian scientist Kamran Mollapour, who was reportedly working at Natanz nuclear facility in central Iran, recently died in mysterious circumstances. Ayoob Entezari, who held a Ph.D. in mechanical and aerospace engineering, died of a reported poisoning.

Before that, IRGC Colonel Ali Esmailzadeh died “in an incident” at his home. He was a close colleague of Colonel Hassan Sayyad-Khodaei, the acting commander of the elite Qods Unit 840, who was shot dead outside his home in Tehran on May 22 by two gunmen who fled the scene.

The New York Times reported in June that Iran suspects Israel has poisoned two scientists in the past month, including Entezari, the aeronautical engineer, and Kamran Aghamolaei, a geologist involved in Iran’s nuclear program in Natanz.

Esmaeil Khatib, Iran’s New Spymaster, recently stated that “the feeling is that Israel has established a large-scale organization in Tehran and is freely managing its operations. Israel is clearly targeting Iran’s relatively safe image in order to tarnish its greatness in the eyes of the Iranian people.”

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.