IranWire has learned that the family of Hamed Asghari – a bodyguard of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the Iranian nuclear scientist who was assassinated on Friday, November 27 – has not received news of his whereabouts since the killing. But some reports suggest that Asghari was also killed in the attack.
According to IranWire’s source, Asghari’s family accuse security officials of a dereliction of duty and of harassment. After the assassination of Fakhrizadeh, his bodyguards were transferred to a hospital in Tehran but the families were not informed of the name and the location of the hospital.
According to this source, many of Fakhrizadeh’s colleagues and others close to him, including relatives of Asghari’s family and those of the other bodyguards, are being interrogated. In the early 2000s, Asghari was the bodyguard of then foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki and later served in the same capacity for other Iranian government officials.
Guarding officials of the Islamic Republic is the task of a special police unit, but a few officials are protected by the Revolutionary Guards. To protect these officials, both the police and the Revolutionary Guards rely on information provided to them by the Ministry of Intelligence. The assassination of Fakhrizadeh has deeply shocked the Iranian intelligence establishment and many high-level officials have been told to stay in their homes as much as possible.
On Saturday, November 28, Javad Mogouei, a writer close to the Revolutionary Guards, wrote on his Instagram page that “after the attack on Mr. Fakhrizadeh’s car, Hamed Asghari threw himself over him [Fakhrizadeh] and was hit with four bullets. Mr. Fakhrizadeh died on the way to the hospital but some of his bodyguards survived and were [also] taken to the hospital.” According to Mogouei, there were 12 assailants who were supported by an operational team of 50 others. The source also told IranWire that four or six assailants riding motorcycles assassinated Fakhrizadeh.
Absard, in Damavand county, where Fakhrizadeh lived and was assassinated, is a picturesque resort town near Tehran and, according to the same source, during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad many security and Revolutionary Guards officials bought villas in Damavand and paid for them with government loans. A number of intelligence and Revolutionary Guards officials, as well as civilians, live near Fakhrizadeh’s villa. With the shock of his assassination, a number of current and retired government officials who live in the area are now under suspicion and are being interrogated or are due to be interrogated.
According to IranWire’s source, the range of parallel intelligence agencies in Iran, with competing agendas and factions, has led to corruption and infighting among them. And the growth of the Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Unit means that many experienced members of the Ministry of Intelligence have been expelled or have retired.
According to this source, many of the counter-intelligence agents of the Revolutionary Guards are not fluent in English and their knowledge of other intelligence agencies comes from watching TV series like the American show “Homeland” or the Israeli drama “Tehran,” with Persian subtitles. “The Guards can only bully ordinary people, workers and teachers,” says the source. “Now we are all worried that they would drag a number of innocent people in front of TV cameras, force them to confess and then execute them in silence.”
On Saturday, November 28, Xiyue Wang, the Chinese-American student of history who was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards and was imprisoned in Iran from 2016 to 2019 after being accused of espionage, tweeted “We watched ‘Gando’ [an Iranian spy-thriller TV series] in Evin Prison and were impressed by the IRGC agent’s multilingual skills, but my interrogator, allegedly one of the [Guards’] counter-intelligence experts focusing on the US, could not even speak English. Yes, that’s their competence.”
Update: Earlier today, a few hours after this report was published in Persian, Mehr News Agency, close to the Revolutionary Guards, quoted Hamed Asghari’s brother as saying that Asghari is recuperating and will soon be released from hospital. IranWire cannot verify this report.
Infighting Begins in Iran After Fakhrizadeh’s Assassination, 28 November 2020
Was Iran's Top Nuclear Scientist Assassinated Today?, 27 November 2020
A Plan for Execution "So we Have Something to Show the Public", Thursday, 10 October 2019