The commander of Iran’s cyber warfare program has been killed in an alleged assassination, according to media reports. Iran has accused outside forces of perpetrating the attack.
Iran’s head of cyber warfare, Mojtaba Ahmadi, was last seen leaving home and heading to work on Saturday, according to The Telegraph.
Later, Ahmadi was found dead with two bullets in the heart in a wooded area of the town of Karaj, located northwest of the country’s capital of Tehran, reported Alborz News, which has close links to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“I could see two bullet wounds on his body and the extent of his injuries indicated that he had been assassinated from a close range with a pistol,” an eyewitness told Alborz.
The commander of the local police said that two people on motorcycles were involved in the suspected assassination.
Ahmadi’s death is under investigation, according to the Imam Hassan Mojtaba division of the Revolutionary Guard Corps. The division has warned against guessing “prematurely about the identity of those responsible for the killing.”
Additional confirmation of Ahmadi’s death came from a Facebook page of officers of the Cyber War Headquarters, who said that he was one of their commanders and expressed their condolences.
Readers of Alborz news website responded to the information by warning individuals not to disclose any more information about Ahmadi because it could give the wrong people personal information that could be further used against Iran. “It sounds like a hit…Counter-revolutionaries will take advantage of his murder,” said one post.
Top Iranian officials and researchers have remained vulnerable over the past decade. Five nuclear scientists and the head of the country’s ballistic missile program have been killed since 2007.
Iran has increased security and accused Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency of carrying out the assassinations.
The last assassination case is from 2012, involving a chemist from the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, who died after an explosive device exploded on his car.
Iran has been accused of completing a number of cyber attacks detected in the West. However, some experts argue that the alleged attacks are not nearly as threatening as the country’s nuclear program.
“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,” Shashank Joshi, an expert at the
Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), told The Telegraph.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani mentioned the “assassination of common people and political figures in Iran” in his UN speech on Thursday, asking the General Assembly “For what crimes have they been assassinated? The United Nations and the Security Council should answer the question: Have the perpetrators been condemned?”
The suspected assassination comes after Rouhani’s 15-minute phone conversation with US President Barack Obama on Friday during his US visit, which marked the end of a 30-year silence between the two countries.
Rouhani faced severe criticism from Iranian hardliners who hurled shoes and eggs at his car after he returned to Tehran.