The 35-year-old son of the former commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, Gen. Mohsen Rezai, was found dead in a luxury suites hotel in Dubai on Sunday, a death his family deemed “suspicious.”
Ahmad Rezai had gone to Dubai on September 8 to visit his family, who maintain a residence in Dubai. He has been unable to travel to Iran since he was released from house arrest by the regime on May 1, 2008.
According to the Tehran Times, the younger Rezai “died after receiving an electric shock.” An opposition Iranian source told me he was followed back from Tehran by two members of the Quds Force who may have carried out the hit.
The younger Rezai’s murder was discovered just hours after a series of explosions rocked the main depot for the Revolutionary Guards stockpile of Shahab-3 missiles in the southwestern suburbs of Tehran, killing one of Iran’s top missile experts, Brig. Gen. Hassan Moghadam.
It’s unclear if the two events are related, as many bloggers have been suggesting. However, Gen. Mohsen Rezai commands a substantial following within the IRGC even today, fourteen years after he was replaced as IRGC commander. The murder of his son by another faction of regime thugs will surely have repercussions inside Iran.
To me, this feels like the murder of Ahmad Shah Massood in Afghanistan on Sept 9, 2001. I can still remember hearing of Masood’s murder and thinking at the time: this is the beginning of something really bad.
By the very fact that he lived in the United States and had U.S. citizenship, Ahmad Rezai gave his father an “American connection” the regime jinned up into a massive conspiracy. The fact that they couldn’t prove any of their allegations against him, despite many years of efforts, only convinced them further that father and son constituted a threat to the regime.
Combine this murder with the missile base explosion, the latest IAEA report that reveals ongoing nuclear warhead work – despite the CIA’s 2007 National Intelligence Estimate to the contrary – and the intense factional warfare inside the regime that is pitting Ahmadinejad against Khamenei and splitting the IRGC into multiple, mutually-hostile factions – and you’ve laid the table for a dramatic series of events. Something bad is going to happen. And the target is likely to be Israel.
Gen. Rezai has twice run for president, both times against Ahmadinejad. After the stolen election of June 2009, he joined the other failed candidates, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karrubi, in calling for a full investigation of election fraud.
But as street protests in Tehran and elsewhere intensified, Rezai caved into pressure from Ayatollah Khamenei – including threats to his family – and retreated to Mashad for several months where he lectured at the local university. (He holds a PhD in economics.)
Khamenei also threatened the family of Rezai’s boss at the Expediency Council, former president Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani.
Rafsanjani’s daughter, Faezeh Hashemi, was arrested after the election on allegations of failing to pay import duties on large quantities of green “mantos” – the head to toe covering, usually in black, that Iranian women are forced to wear in public – she was planning to distribute thanks to grants from NGOs with ties to George Soros and his Open Society Institute.
Rafsanjani’s son, Mehdi Hashemi, was planning to return to Iran from London after the election, but was ultimately warned away from returning by Ahmad Rezai, who learned that the regime had issued an arrest warrant for Hashemi and fully intended to carry it out if he came to Tehran.
Ahmad Rezai has been in the gunsights of the regime ever since he defected to the United States in 1997 at the age of 22.
I first interviewed him in Los Angeles the following year, when he blasted the regime for carrying out terrorist attacks, including the Khobar Towers bombing.
“Three persons sign off on every order to commit a foreign terrorist action: Ayatollah Khamene’i, Rafsanjani, and Khamene’i's chief of staff, Hojjat-ol eslam Mohammadi-Golpayegani,” he told me in that interview.
In 1999, his father dispatched two people to lure Ahmad away from Los Angeles, where he had obtained political asylum, to the estate of a wealthy Iranian businessman in Costa Rica, on the pretext that Iranian agents in Los Angeles were trying to kill him.
Gen. Rezai was trying to get Ahmad to return to Iran, where he thought he could get the regime to “forgive” his outspoken radio and television interviews. At the time, President Khatami was leading a reformist movement that included a loosening up of the regime’s intelligence apparatus. Gen. Rezai was working with Khatami at the time.
In the end, the younger Rezai managed to return to the United States from Costa Rica, with help from the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, which I founded in 1995. He learned English in my basement by watching Jackie Chan movies for three months while getting resettled into the United States.
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