A notorious commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard (IRGC), previously expelled from Syria, oversaw operations to kill Israelis, Iran International, a Persian language television station headquartered in London, has learned.
General Javad Ghaffari, the IRGC Quds Force commander who had reportedly been expelled from Syria last November for ‘major breach of Syrian sovereignty’, led the IRGC Intelligence Organization's plots to kill Israelis in Türkiye in the past nine months, a former senior IRGC official told Iran International.
After returning from Syria, Ghaffari was appointed as the deputy head of IRGC Intelligence Organization for Special Operations, where he orchestrated a series of failed attacks against Israeli citizens, the Iranian source said.
In the latest case in June, Türkiye’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) thwarted a planned attack against Israeli diplomats and tourists in Istanbul.
Ghaffari was the third commander of the Iranian forces in Syria since 2011 when Iran began its large-scale intervention in Syria's civil war.
He started his career in Syria as one of the commanders at the Iranian forces' headquarters in Damascus and was later appointed as the commander of the forces in Aleppo - where he became known as the 'Butcher of Aleppo'.
There, he led Iranian forces as well as their Lebanese Hezbollah proxies and Afghan mercenaries, the Fatemiyoun, until he was allegedly ousted by Assad.
Ghaffari was expelled from Syria as he was “accused of ‘major breach of Syrian sovereignty’ after attacking US forces and deploying Iranian weapons to unapproved places.”
Ghaffari's expulsion from Syria not only did not result in his retirement, but also won him a senior position at the IRGC Intelligence Organization (SAS).
His failures at SAS outraged many IRGC officials, and finally prompted Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to sack the organization's controversial, but powerful, chief Hossein Taeb, who had run SAS for 13 years.
However, Ghaffari was not the first or only official responsible for SAS operations overseas. His predecessor Reza Seraj had also been sacked for a failed plot to kill Israelis in Cyprus.
Another key figure in the unsuccessful attempts to assassinate Israelis in Türkiye was Rouhollah Bazghandi, the deputy head of the SAS counterintelligence (Unit 1500), the former senior IRGC official told Iran International.
By using amateur agents to carry out the attacks against Israeli targets in Istanbul, Bazghandi dealt a heavy blow to the IRGC Intelligence Organization, the source told Iran International.