Earlier today, masked gunmen assassinated a local commander of the Basij paramilitary security forces in Iran’s southwestern Khuzestan province in front of his house. Abdolhosein Mojaddami was shot dead by two unknown persons who were riding a motorcycle according to the official IRNA news agency.
Mojaddami, who headed the local Basij force in the town of Darkhoein, was said to be an associate of the recently slain top general Qassem Soleimani. The Basij is a volunteer organisation operating under the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) and is used for internal security and other tasks such as clamping down against dissent.
A senior Basij militia commander was assassinated by unknown parties in the city of Shadegan in Iran's Khuzestan Province. pic.twitter.com/GgKRLVMtsy
— Evan Kohlmann (@IntelTweet) January 22, 2020
According to Iranian media, no one has yet claimed responsibility for the assassination nor has a motive been established. There is however speculation that terrorist organisations such as the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz (ASMLA), which has conducted terrorist attacks in the past such as the 2018 attack on a military parade in the same region and whom the Iranian government accuses of receiving foreign support, may be behind the attack.
Separately on Sunday, an IRGC base in the capital Tehran, the Mohammad Rasoulollah base was attacked by “defiant youth”, according to the website associated with the terrorist group the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), the following day, a police building in Mashhad in the country’s north-east was also targeted with footage emerging online of explosions at the site. It is not clear if there were any casualties or if the MEK was directly responsible.
#BREAKING: #MEK/#NCRI Islamic terrorist group carried-out a terrorist attack at a Police building in #Mashhad. Once was backed by #Iran's Islamic Regime, #MEK is now rival of Ayatollahs. This is why #US Secretary #Pompeo ordered his diplomats to avoid contacting these terrorists! pic.twitter.com/rpZX5Jm9JI
— Babak Taghvaee (@BabakTaghvaee) January 20, 2020
A bulk of the community is currently based in NATO-member Albania, estimated to be 3,000 strong. Former national security adviser to the Trump administration, John Bolton has links to the MEK and has served as a powerful advocate for the group in Washington. However, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had earlier this month called on US diplomats to avoid direct communication with MEK and other violent Iranian opposition groups, as they could prove “counterproductive” to Washington’s chances in negotiations with Tehran.