Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Names New Intelligence Chief Amid Suspicious Deaths
TEHRAN—Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps named a new intelligence chief on Thursday, after a string of suspicious deaths of military officers and scientists raised tensions between Tehran and its regional adversaries.
Hossein Taeb, a cleric who headed the Guard’s intelligence wing for more than a decade, was succeeded by Gen. Mohammad Kazemi, according to a statement on the official IRGC news website. Mr. Taeb was named an adviser to the IRGC commander, Maj. Gen.
The IRGC didn’t provide a reason for the change. “Taeb has played invaluable and efficient roles in the intelligence organization” and other parts of the IRGC, Guard spokesman Ramezan Sharif said.
At least seven Iranians involved in the country’s nuclear and military programs have died in recent weeks. Iranian officials publicly accused Israel of being behind at least one of the deaths, last month’s killing in Tehran of a top Iranian military officer whom Israel suspected of running overseas hit teams targeting Israelis.
Israeli officials haven’t commented on whether Israel was responsible for any of the Iranian deaths. But they have acknowledged stepping up a long-running campaign aimed at thwarting Iran’s nuclear, missile and drone programs, aiming in the past year to more aggressively target Iran on its own territory.
Israel’s expanded campaign has stoked a yearslong shadow war with Iran, which has responded to stepped-up attacks inside the country with what Israeli leaders said is a new push to target Israelis around the world.
Mr. Taeb’s removal also came after Israel said it had disrupted, with help from Turkish security forces, an alleged plot by Iran to attack Israelis in Istanbul last weekend.
“In recent weeks, the lives of Israeli citizens have been saved thanks to security and diplomatic cooperation between Israel and Turkey,” Israeli Foreign Minister
visiting Ankara on Thursday, said at a news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
“These efforts are ongoing,” Mr. Lapid added.
The Turkish government hasn’t commented on the reported arrest of alleged Iranian agents, but said that it was working closely with Israel on security matters.
“As regards the terror threat against Israeli citizens in our country, we were in continuous contact with Mr. Lapid. And our authorities, our institutions shared information with one another,” said Mr. Cavusoglu.
Mr. Taeb joined IRGC in 1982 and was an official in the supreme leader’s office, an anti-espionage director in the intelligence ministry and head of the Basij paramilitary militia before taking over as intelligence chief, according to Iranian media.
Mr. Taeb’s influence in IRGC circles and the Guard’s international activities rose following the January 2020 killing in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq of
who had been in charge of the IRGC’s regional operations.
Mr. Taeb was seen as a close ally of Mojtaba Khamenei, the son of Iran’s Supreme Leader
an IRGC adviser and a U.S. official have previously said. After Mr. Soleimani’s death, Mr. Taeb became one of the main contacts in the IRGC with pro-Iranian militias in Iraq, they said.
Mr. Kazemi, the new IRGC intelligence chief, headed the Guard’s counterintelligence agency for several years and is experienced in security and intelligence matters, according to a post on the semiofficial Mehr News Agency.
Iran has blamed Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad for the death of Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, a Guard officer shot and killed outside his Tehran home last month.
—Jared Malsin and Benoit Faucon contributed to this article.
Write to David S. Cloud at [email protected]
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