On Nov. 12, two massive blasts at a nearby town rocked Tehran, the Iranian capital, and may have been an attempt to assassinate the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who had been scheduled to be there at the time of the explosions. Now Israel and the West must be prepared for possible Iranian retaliation.
After the explosions, Iranians found themselves wondering whether Israel had attacked. The recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Iran’s nuclear weapons program and the warnings of military action by Israeli officials have alarmed Iranians about the threat of war.
The simultaneous explosions, which hit the Iranian Revolutionary Guards base 28 miles west of Tehran, not only shook the surrounding area but were heard and felt throughout Tehran, even breaking car and building windows.
Revolutionary Guards officials soon announced that the explosions occurred at one of their ammunition depots while ammunition was being moved and claimed at first that 15 people were killed.
Iran’s state-owned media rapidly changed the story multiple times on the number of fatalities and the cause of the incidents, but they all ruled out a plot and stated that the explosions had nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear program. Then they announced that Brig. Gen. Hassan Tehrani Moghadam, the “architect of Iran’s missile program,” was one of those killed.
The shock was palpable among the Iranian leaders, and soon sources within Iran revealed that the number of casualties was well over 100. It was also reported that right after the explosions, tanks and armored vehicles mobilized in and around Tehran and in other provinces.
Ayatollah Khamenei attended the funeral of those killed and best described the severity of the incident: “The bloody incident, which resulted in the martyrdom of some of our best, including the superior commander and scientist Hassan Moghadam, is truly bitter and sad.”
Although Iranian officials claimed the explosions were accidental, their statements later indicated that the incidents were more of a complex and calculated covert operation right out of a James Bond movie.
One explosion “set back the manufacture of the [Guards’] researched product only for two weeks, which could be a punch in the mouth of the global arrogance [forces of imperialism] and the occupying [Zionists],” said Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, the chairman of Iran’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
In referring to Israel, Revolutionary Guards Gen. Masoud Jazayeri said the Zionist regime should expect shocking explosions in Tel Aviv and other cities. Iran obviously is blaming the explosions on Israel. What is interesting is that a little more than a week later, a similar explosion occurred at a weapons depot of the terrorist group Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.
But most revealing was the statement reflected on the Revolutionary Guards’ media outlet, Javan Online, by Mehdi Taeb, the head of the Ammar Garrison and one of the most fanatical figures in the Islamic regime. He stated that “a big event will take place after the martyrdom of Hassan Moghadam.” He added that the deceased general was working on a project that, despite his absence, will soon come together and result in this “big event.”
As I reported in May, Ayatollah Khamenei ordered the Revolutionary Guards to arm their missiles with nuclear warheads before the end of the Iranian year - March 2012 - and that the Guards were already in possession of two nuclear-capable warheads. According to the agreement between the Revolutionary Guards and the Ministry of Defense, eight more nuclear warheads will be produced and delivered to the Revolutionary Guards within the next several months.
It is now clear that the missile project on which the Guards were working was the one Ayatollah Khamenei ordered that would weaponize their missiles. Even though there is no evidence pointing to a nuclear blast, sources indicate that Iran’s missile experts were working on a warhead that could carry a nuclear payload, and the explosion caused major devastation to the Guards’ base and much of the surrounding area.
Sources within Iran indicate that Ayatollah Khamenei may have been the target of the explosion. At the time, he was scheduled to arrive at the site to witness the Guards’ advancements. If true, this shows deep infiltration within the Iranian leadership and a direct warning that assassination of the highest ranks in Iran is on the table.
This was not the first successful attack on Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. There have been several others - such as the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, Stuxnet and other viruses infecting their nuclear facilities, mysterious explosions such as the one in 2008 that destroyed a Revolutionary Guards convoy carrying military equipment destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the one in 2010 at Iran’s Shahab-3 ballistic missiles depot inside a Revolutionary Guards’ base in the western Iranian province of Lurestan.
However, this most recent incident has shaken the Iranian leaders to the core. Out of security concern, Ayatollah Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards’ top commanders immediately canceled the all-important event of Eid-E-Ghadir, which commemorates the divine command of the Prophet Muhammad when he appointed Ali as the first in the continuing line of hereditary imams. Last year on this very occasion, Ayatollah Khamenei delivered his sermon to all top commanders and tens of thousands of Guards and Basiji forces.
Though many brave souls are at great risk trying to delay the pursuit of the radicals ruling Iran in obtaining the nuclear bomb, the world must know that it is only a matter of time before they arm their missiles with nuclear payloads and try to destroy the world in order to bring about the reappearance of the last Islamic Messiah.
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA spy who is a fellow with EMPact America and the author of “A Time to Betray,” about his double life in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (Threshold Editions, Simon & Schuster, 2010).