Earlier this week, Mojtaba Ahmadi, a commander at Iran's Cyber War Headquarters, was found shot to death in the woods near Karaj, a town northwest of Tehran. Ahmadi is the sixth prominent member of Iran's scientific community killed since 2007, a tally that includes five nuclear scientists and the head of the country's ballistic missile program.
According to the Telegraph, the Cyber War Headquarters' Facebook page confirmed Ahmadi's death and posted a message of condolence. Alborz, a website connected to Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, also reported on the death.
“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,” one witness told Alborz, which also reported that the local police chief said two people on a motorbike were involved with the shooting.
Iran has accused the Mossad—Israel's intelligence agency—of carrying out previous killings, but the country is, for now, exercising caution before assigning blame. The Imam Hassan Mojtaba division of the Revolutionary Guard Corps issued a statement saying that the death was being investigated and warned against speculating “prematurely about the identity of those responsible for the killing.”
The Revolutionary Guard has been linked to various cyber attacks in the West, including those carried out by the Syrian Electronic Army, though those attacks weren't considered serious enough threats to merit an assassination.
“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, told the Telegraph.
[Image of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani via AP]