Iran’s drastic intelligence overhaul reveals regime’s profound fears

Evident security breaches in Iran have prompted heavy criticism of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)’s intelligence division and a drastic overhaul of figures in key intelligence positions.

On June 23, the IRGC announced that its intelligence chief, the most powerful figure in Iran’s intelligence apparatus, was replaced after 13 years in the post. The IRGC offered no reason or explanation for the decision.

Iran’s Sharq daily described the replacement as “a political earthquake”, as have many analysts.

Hossein Taeb, a mid-ranking cleric widely described as a “petrifying figure”, was at the helm of the IRGC’s intelligence division since its inception.

He was replaced by Gen. Mohammad Kazemi, who was formerly head of the IRGC’s counter-intelligence agency, known as the Intelligence Protection Organisation.

Meanwhile, Kazemi’s post was filled by IRGC figure Majid Khademi, also known as Majid Hosseini, who was working for the Ministry of Defence as a counter-intelligence chief.

On June 25, another major replacement was announced.

Ebrahim Jabbari, commander of the force in charge of providing security to Iranian leader Ali Khamenei and his family, was replaced by Hassan Mashrouifar. drastic

Jabbari’s replacement reveals Khamenei’s personal concerns for his life and the lives of those close to him, observers say.

Security failures

Taeb’s removal came after a string of recent security failures ending in several intelligence leaks and assassinations.

Taeb, a divisive figure with whom many were unhappy, was first harshly criticised by pro-IRGC groups after the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s nuclear mastermind, in November 2020.

Fakhrizadeh’s assassination, added to the list of suspicious killings in recent years, explosions at sensitive military sites, and the recent theft of sensitive nuclear and missile programme documents from a nuclear facility in Iran, prompted a deluge of criticism of Iran’s intelligence capabilities.

After Fakhrizadeh’s death, Iran’s then-intelligence minister Mahmoud Alavi admitted that a member of the country’s armed forces was involved in the incident.

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