Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on Thursday named a new head of its intelligence service, following a series of assassinations and mysterious deaths of Iranian military personnel.
Brig. General Mohammad Kazemi is the new head of the IRGC’s intelligence organization, state media quoted IRGC spokesman Ramezan Sharif as saying.
Kazemi replaces Hossein Taeb, a powerful cleric who has held the position since the organization was founded in 2009.
No reason was given for the leadership change, which comes amid a series of assassinations and mysterious deaths of IRGC members as well as others associated with the Iranian military in recent weeks.
The most recent high-profile assassination is that of IRGC Colonel Sayyad Khodaei, who was killed in a gun attack in the capital Tehran on May 22. Iran blamed Israel for his murder and vowed revenge.
It is the most publicized assassination in Iran since the 2020 killing of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, which Tehran also blamed on Israel.
Taeb was appointed adviser to the IRGC commander-in-chief, state news agency Tasnim reported.
Taeb is a powerful Iranian regime figure who worked in Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s office before being appointed to the IRGC’s intelligence organization in 2009. He is said to be particularly close to Mojtaba Khamenei, the Supreme Leader’s influential son .
Taeb is sanctioned by the EU and the United States for violating human rights.
“I think it’s an earthquake in the Iranian intelligence community given Taeb’s longevity and proximity to the Supreme Leader’s office,” said Jason Brodsky, policy director at United Against Nuclear Iran ( UANI), at Al Arabiya English.
“Taeb’s legacy is one of corruption, repression and controversy. The fact that he was appointed adviser to the commander-in-chief of the IRGC rather than another more senior position can be considered a demotion, assuming this is true,” Brodsky said.
Founded in 2009, the IRGC Intelligence Organization is an intelligence agency that operates alongside Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence. The two intelligence services are said to be in competition with each other and have clashed in the past.
Taeb’s replacement, Kazemi, was previously head of the IRGC’s counter-intelligence unit, officially known as the Intelligence Protection Organization (IPO).
“Taeb’s replacement with Mohammad Kazemi, who previously headed the Intelligence Protection Organization (IPO), is a sign that the IRGC is concerned about foreign intelligence penetration into its ranks, as the IRGC’s mission IPO is domestic and focused on counterintelligence within the IRGC,” Brodsky said.
“Kazemi is probably seen as someone who can bolster the operational craft of the IRGC intelligence organization amid multiple mysterious assassinations in Iran and sabotage incidents,” he added.
“Nevertheless, the question remains about Kazemi’s own credentials given that he spearheaded the IPO even as Iran suffered these multiple setbacks.”
Turkey dismantles Iranian cell that allegedly targeted Israeli tourists
How Iran set up a sanctions-busting network to keep its economy afloat: Report
Iranian Foreign Minister Says Only Diplomacy Can Solve Ukraine Crisis