Ghasem Fathollahi, a member of the Revolutionary Guards who was killed early in January, 2023

Exclusive – Sources Say Basij Commander's Killing Was Inside Job By Iran Guards

Thursday, 01/05/2023

Iran International has learned that Ghasem Fathollahi, an officer of the Revolutionary Guards who was killed in Tehran, was assassinated by the IRGC intelligence. 

Fathollahi, a commander of Basij militia unit in one of the neighborhoods of the capital Tehran, was killed Tuesday outside his home after being shot four times by a gunman who fled the scene on a motorcycle. He succumbed to his injuries at a hospital near his place of residence. 

He was the commander of the basij base of a mosque in Khani Abad in Tehran, District 12 downtown Tehran. 

Initial reports suggested that he was killed by the people opposed the clerical regime, but later sources close to the IRGC claimed that he was killed during a robbery. On Thursday, sources told Iran International that he was shot dead by IRGC intelligence agents due to his leniency towards protesters. 

According to our sources, the Intelligence Organization of the IRGC had become suspicious of Fatollahi in the past few weeks and had been monitoring him. The sources said that he refused to confront the demonstrators and suppress them during the protests in the area. The regime uses the Basij paramilitary militia extensively against demonstrators. They are hated by many citizens for acting as mercenaries who are willing to use violence indiscriminately against civilians.

Investigating his conduct, IRGC’s intelligence found out that he was not alone and was in contact with a group of the disgruntled members of security forces who tried to refrain from using deadly violence against protesters, including opening fire at them.

According to Iran International's sources, the Revolutionary Guard Intelligence Organization is worried about the growing number of security forces who refuse to confront the protesters and has taken measures to deal with this trend. 

He was apparently using a PlayStation device to keep in touch with a network of protesters. The assailant or someone who reportedly accompanied him took this PlayStation device too.

In the past months, there have been several reports that protesters in different cities have been using private chat rooms available in online games on Sony’s PlayStation network to coordinate street demonstrations. The number of games available on PlayStation is countless, and this issue makes it impossible to track and monitor their conversations.

It is not yet clear whether Fathollahi’s killing was a pre-meditated, deliberate full-fledged hit operation or only a collateral incident during the attempt to seize the PlayStation and arrest him. 

Earlier in June, Iran International’s sources said that a commander of IRGC Quds Force unit 840 -- Colonel Ali Esmailzadeh, who died under suspicious circumstances in Karaj on May 30, was an inside job. Esmailzadeh died when he fell from the roof of his home in Jahan Nama area of Karaj. 

He was a close colleague of Colonel Hassan Sayyad-Khodaei, the acting commander of the elite Qods Unit 840, who was shot dead behind the wheel of his car outside his home in Tehran on May 22 by two gunmen who fled the scene on a motorbike.

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