Iranian Judiciary spokesman, Gholamhossein Esmaili, announced that Iran will soon execute an informant who allegedly gave the United States and Israeli forces information on General Qassem Soleimani. According to Iran, the information led to the airstrike that killed Soleimani in January.
Esmaili said, “Mahmoud Mousavi-Majd, one of the spies for [the Central Intelligence Agency] and Mossad, has been sentenced to death. He gave the whereabouts of martyr Soleimani to our enemies.” Esmaili said in a televised news conference earlier this week. He also added that Majd was found guilty of receiving money from both the U.S. and Israeli governments.
In recent years, Majd had resided in Syria, in an unspecified capacity, with his family. Esmaili said Majd was in contact with Iranian military advisers operating in the country while actively gathering intelligence on behalf of the U.S. and Israel on Iran’s Defense Minister, the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, and the movements of military officials, including Quds Force chief Major General Qassem Soleimani.
Esmaili did not elaborate on how Majd was able to gain access to such information. It was not released whether Majd was a member of “Defenders of the Shrine” or worked for the Revolutionary Guard in another capacity.
“Defender of the Shrine [of Zeynab]” is a term used by the Iranians to refer to its the Revolutionary Guard members and the proxy militias organized by Tehran to fight alongside Syrian government forces.
It also hasn’t been made public how he is linked to the death of Soleimani since Majd was taken into custody prior to Soleimani’s assassination thus making claims of his connection to the assassination suspect. Iranian authorities on Saturday also released the first photo of Majd.
Tehran authorities have not said when Majd will be executed, just that the execution is slated to be conducted “soon.”
Officials have also not said whether Mousavi-Majd’s case is linked to Iran’s announcement last summer that it had captured 17 spies working for the CIA, some of whom were sentenced to death.
In February of this year, another Iranian national, Amir Rahimpour, was sentenced to death for providing the United States with Iranian intelligence. When it comes to espionage cases there is little transparency provided by the Iranian government and an accused’s innocence or guilt is difficult to ascertain.
However, this is the first mention of any crackdown since Soleimani’s assassination that led to nearly open warfare between Iran and the United States. Soleimani had approved the Iranian-led proxy militias to send rockets at U.S. bases since October of last year. After the U.S. countered with massive airstrikes against the militias, Soleimani gave the okay to the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. That’s when a drone airstrike killed the general and the deputy commander of the militias soon after their arrival in Syria.
Tehran retaliated with a rocket attack on an Iraqi airbase where U.S. forces were stationed. Hours later, Iranian forces on high alert mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger airliner taking off from Tehran, killing all 176 passengers on board. Iran was slow to admit the deadly gaffe which sparked massive protests in the country.