The side window of the white car is shattered. The man in the driver’s seat is slumped in his seat belt. His shirt is soaked in blood. The Iranian state press published this photo on Sunday.

The man is therefore Sajjad Chodai, Colonel of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). According to local media reports, two people on a motorcycle killed him with five shots as he was driving past when Chodai was parked in front of his house.

In the middle of the day, in the middle of Tehran, on one of the capital’s best-guarded streets, leading to Iran’s parliament. The assassins had chutzpah, as they say in Hebrew – a mixture of courage and audacity.

The identity of the perpetrators is not known, but the process bears the signature of the Israeli foreign intelligence service Mossad. The IRGC described the assassination as a “criminal terrorist act by counter-revolution and elements associated with global arrogance” — Iran’s term for the US and Israel.

From what is known of the secretive Revolutionary Guard colonel, he was a member of the Quds Forces. The Shiite regime’s elite unit specializes in foreign operations and since the 1980s has systematically expanded Tehran’s regional shadow army, consisting of various terrorist militias such as Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Iranian media has dubbed Khodai a “defender of the sanctuary,” a reference to Iranians fighting within the elite Quds force against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

According to Israeli media reports, Khodai was behind a series of foiled attacks on Israeli businessmen and international diplomats. Israel’s domestic intelligence service Shin Bet recently revealed that Iranian agents had tried to lure and possibly kidnap Israeli academics, businessmen and former defense officials abroad.

The UK-based Iran International News Channel recently reported that a Quds Force agent was contracted to assassinate three people, including an Israeli consulate worker, in Turkey. According to Israeli officials, the Mossad foiled the attack.

It is also considered likely that Khodai is responsible for attempted attacks on five Israelis in Cyprus and similar failed attacks on Israeli businessmen in Africa and South America, as well as on an American general stationed in Germany and a journalist in France.

According to Israel’s Channel 12, Khodai had recently returned from Syria, where he served under former Quds Force commander General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike in Iraq in January 2020.

Israel is said to have helped the US plan the assassination attempt on Soleimani with intelligence information. An anonymous source in Iranian security circles told Iranian news agency Jadeh Iran that Khodai played an important role in the country’s military industry, particularly in the field of drone development.

Iran’s drones are a growing concern for Israel as Tehran supplies the technology to its regional militias. Growing reach is becoming a problem for the Jewish state.

For example, the Houthis in Yemen could already reach southern Israel with their drones. Hezbollah has tried several times to send drones to Israel, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip is also using the Iran-sponsored technology.

Israel is said to have attacked the IRGC drone base in Mahidasht, Iran. Jerusalem would therefore have sufficient motivation for an attack on the assassination planer Chodai.

Should the Mossad actually be behind his assassination, this would be a considerable expansion of the “war between wars” as Israel’s largely covert actions against Iran are called and vice versa. To date, Israel has focused on sabotaging Iran’s nuclear program and killing nuclear scientists.

At least six Iranian scientists and academics have been killed or attacked since 2010, several by perpetrators on motorcycles. This includes the father of Iran’s nuclear program, Mohsen Fakhrisadeh, who was killed in 2020.

According to a report in the New York Times, the Mossad used a high-tech remote-controlled machine gun to kill Fakhrisadeh. The incidents are commonly attributed to the Mossad — Israel takes no position on the matter — and appear to be intended to slow Iran’s nuclear program, which Israel believes is aimed at making a nuclear bomb.

The West’s nuclear negotiations with Iran in Vienna have been on hold since mid-March. They aim to renew the 2015 nuclear deal that the United States withdrew from under ex-President Donald Trump. The new version is intended to reverse Iran’s enormous increase in uranium enrichment and force Tehran to once again comply with restrictions on its nuclear program.

In return, the West wants to lift economic sanctions. Negotiations are stalling because the US refuses to remove the Iranian Revolutionary Guards from its list of international terrorist organizations, which Tehran is pushing for.