The commander of Iran’s cyberwar program has been shot dead in an apparent assassination, a British newspaper reported Wednesday.
Mojtaba Ahmadi, who specialized in computer defense, was found dead in woods near Tehran with two bullets in his heart, The Telegraph said, citing a website linked to the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guard. He was last seen Saturday leaving for his job at the Cyber War Headquarters, according to the site, Alborz.
The police commander in Karaj, northwest of the capital, reported that the killing was carried out by two men on a motorcycle.
In January 2012, Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan was blown up when two men on a motorbike attached a magnetic bomb to his car while he was sitting in Tehran traffic.
Since 2007, five Iranian nuclear scientists and the head of the country’s ballistic missile program have been slain. Iran has blamed the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. Israel has denied the allegations.
On its Facebook page, the Cyber War Headquarters confirmed Ahmadi had been a commander and posted condolences, the newspaper wrote. The Revolutionary Guard said Ahmadi’s death was being investigated and warned against speculating “prematurely about the identity of those responsible for the killing.”
Western intelligence officials are evaluating the report, the Telegraph said.
Iran-affiliated hackers have been looking for system weaknesses to disrupt U.S. power grids, financial systems and other key infrastructure, a cybersecurity expert said in August.
“The only thing now that stands between us and a big attack is the goodwill of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard,” James Lewis, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Bloomberg News.
The Revolutionary Guard has also been lending its expertise to hackers supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad in his government’s civil war against rebels.
A group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army attacked The New York Times’ site in late August, and in April hacked the Associated Press’ Twitter account to falsely report an explosion near the White House, which temporarily rocked the U.S.stock markets.