Iranian Space Agency Member Killed on Duty, Report Says

Iran hasn't suggested foul play, but Israel has been accused of killing a string of other high-ranking Guard members of late

The purported launching of a Shahin missile during war games in Iran in 2011.
The purported launching of a Shahin missile during war games in Iran in 2011.Credit: AP

A member of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard's aerospace division was killed during a mission, the Iranian Fars news agency reported on Monday, one of a spate of recent mysterious deaths of military employees in the Islamic Republic.

The man, Muhammad Abdul, was in his 30s and had worked at the Semnan Space Center, home to the Iranian Space Agency's satellite launch site and ballistic missile testing that hosted the country's first launch of a military satellite into space.

The report called him a "martyr" at the end of a "prolonged struggle in the service of his homeland." The term "martyr" is typically a designation given to those on important assignments.

The death of Abdul, on the heels of Sunday's report that Revolutionary Guards aerospace expert Ali Kamani died in a car accident while on a mission, comes as tensions remain high over Iran's tattered nuclear deal with world powers. The country's uranium enrichment program that is now the closest it has ever been to weapons-grade levels.

While authorities offered no suggestion of foul play in the men's deaths, Israel has been accused of killing other high-ranking Guard members amid the growing crisis.

The news agencies did not give a rank for Kamani, but a photo published by the Iranian Tasnim news agency showed the man wearing the epaulets of a second lieutenant in the Guard's aerospace program, which runs Iran's ballistic missile program as well as some of the country's air defenses.

The incidents come a week and a half after the death of Guard Col. Ali Esmailzadeh during an “incident in his residence” in the city of Karaj, around 35 kilometers (19 miles) northwest of Tehran, according to Iran's IRNA news agency.

In May, deputy commander of the Guards' elite Quds Force, Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, was shot dead in Tehran. Iran has attributed the killing to Israel, and according to an intelligence official cited by The New York Times, Israel has told U.S. officials that it was responsible.

The manner of Khodaei's slaying evoked previous targeted attacks by Israel in Iran. In November 2020, a top Iranian military nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was killed by a remote-controlled machine gun while traveling in a car outside Tehran.

Since the incident, Iran has threatened reprisals against Israel both in Israel and abroad.

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