K.S. Rajan (29 Nov 2011)
"High Emotion and Intrigue After Iran Blast-read"


 
 

 
 
This is an article I had bookmarked and then forgotten because I was traveling abroad. I apologize for the delay I am forwarding this.

A few weeks ago I talked about the chances that a war with Iran was imminent and I mentioned that the nature of that war was going to be either kinetic or cyber, or both.

It seems that a first, preemptive strike supposedly by Israel or the US has already taken place. Oddly enough, there was not much media coverage of the event.

From November, 15th NYT, FYI,
David

High Emotion and Intrigue After Iran Blast
Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
A Tehran crowd carries the coffins of a prominent general and 16 others killed at a military base.
By ROBERT F. WORTH and ARTIN AFKHAMI
Published: November 14, 2011
Iran’s supreme leader presided Monday over a vast state funeral for a founder of Iran’s missile program and 16 other members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps who were killed in an explosion Saturday, in an emotional ritual that underscored the commander’s importance and Tehran’s rising sense of confrontation with the West over its nuclear program.
The commander, Gen. Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, was a crucial figure in Iran’s efforts to build long-range missiles who was “constantly preparing himself for the probable upcoming conflict with America,” according to a eulogy by a fellow senior Revolutionary Guards commander, Gen. Hossein Alaie, that was published on Iran’s Tabnak news site.
That prominent role, previously unknown outside Iranian military circles, and the secrecy surrounding the explosion have fueled intense speculation that the blast was the result of sabotage, and not an accident as Iranian authorities have insisted.
Videos of the funeral on Iranian news sites showed soldiers weeping and beating their breasts as the flag-draped coffins were carried down a boulevard, and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stood before a crowd of uniformed officers in a large prayer hall.
“During a time when Israel and America are threatening Iran, his presence is sorely missed,” General Alaie wrote.
The explosion, at a military base outside Bidganeh, was so big that it was heard in Tehran, about 25 miles away, and shook windows in many towns in the area. The Iranian authorities took unusual measures to prevent journalists and even some emergency responders from reaching the area, and blocked Web sites and blogs that showed photos of white smoke rising from the site, according to Iranian news sites and witnesses.
The explosion came a week after a United Nations report cited new evidence that suggests Iran may be developing nuclear weapons. Iranian leaders angrily denounced the report as a pretext for a military attack, and warned of a massive retaliation.
Many Iranians in the capital feared at first that the blast was an Israeli military strike. One prominent journalist, Hassan Fathi, expressed those fears to BBC’s Persian language satellite channel on Sunday, and was arrested shortly afterward, according to Iranian news sites.
General Moghaddam was made commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ missile program in 1983, and gained a reputation for bravery and tactical prowess during the Iran-Iraq war, according to Iran’s Fars News site, which is associated with the Revolutionary Guards. He helped develop Iran’s Shahab missile series; the medium-range ballistic missiles, capable of delivering nuclear warheads, are a key security concern for Israel.
Because of his important role, General Moghaddam had one of the strongest protection details in the country, and it was supervised by Ayatollah Khamenei, who was personally close to the general, according to a former Revolutionary Guards commander living outside Iran who spoke on condition of anonymity, saying he feared retribution.
General Moghaddam also played roles in recent wars involving Iran’s allies Hamas and Hezbollah, according to an item on the Fars Web site and attributed to Mostafa Izadi, a fellow Revolutionary Guards commander.
Revolutionary Guards officials have said the blast took place during a weapons transfer. They have not said why General Moghaddam was at the military base.
Time magazine’s Web site cited an unnamed Western official who said the blast was the work of the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service. Tikun Olam, a blog on Middle Eastern politics, cited an unnamed Israeli official who said it was the work of the Mossad and the Mujahedeen Khalq, a group of Iranian exiles that has a history of killings and sabotage aimed at overthrowing Iran’s government.
Similar accusations were made after at least two bombings that killed Revolutionary Guards officers in recent years. The corps has also been a target of Iranian insurgent groups including Jundallah, a Sunni militant group based near Iran’s border with Pakistan.
The explosion on Saturday coincided with the death in Dubai of Ahmed Rezai, the son of a former commander of the Revolutionary Guards and presidential candidate, Mohsen Rezai. Ahmed Rezai was found dead in his hotel room after an apparent suicide, the Dubai police said.
He had left Iran in 1998 for the United States, where he publicly criticized the Iranian government and eventually married and gained citizenship. The Dubai police said Mr. Rezai’s wrists had been slit. But Iran’s semiofficial Mehr news agency said Mr. Rezai had died from “an electric shock,” prompting speculation that he had been murdered.
A version of this article appeared in print on November 15, 2011, on page A6 of the New York edition with the headline: High Emotions and Intrigue in Iran Blast.