Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Intelligence Organization (IRGC-IO) deputy Hamid Mirza’i died of COVID-19 on Oct. 31, according to a statement by the IRGC. The IRGC praised his years of service in “various trenches of serving the sacred Islamic Republic system especially in intelligence fields.”
Mirza’i marks the loss of the most senior Guard Corps commander to the virus, according to open source. In March, Brigadier General Second Class Naser Sha’bani also died of COVID-19, but he reportedly already retired. In August, the IRGC-controlled Afghan Fatemiyoun Division acknowledged the loss of a fighter to COVID-19.
Armed Forces General Staff chief Mohammad Baqeri issued his condolences in a letter, commending Mirza’i’s “shining record” against “the enemies’ conspiracies and extending the discourse of resistance in target geography.” Baqeri thus hinted that Mirza’i was involved in external intelligence operations. Both statements bestowed the honorific “martyrdom” title to Mirza’i.
Mirza’i was the IRGC-IO Foreign Intelligence Directorate chief, according to an expose of the organization last year by Reza Golpour, political activist and confidant of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who was convicted of charges including “insulting the Supreme Leader” and “acting against national security” four years ago, and then sentenced to 28 years. IranWire discussed Golpour’s allegations, which has also featured in a report on IRGC intelligence by Dr. Raz Zimmit of the The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.
Mirza’i was an intelligence-operations commander during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), during which he suffered injuries. Iranian media also reported that he went into a coma as a result of COVID-19 before his death.
Last year, IRGC chief commander Hossein Salami said that IRGC-IO would expand its intelligence activities abroad, and that the organization’s field of operation “is the entire system, [Islamic] revolution and geography of threat against Iran.” Mirza’i would have certainly been a key player.
Following the perceived failures of the Intelligence Ministry in the 2009 post-election protests, IRGC intelligence was upgraded from a directorate to an organization. Since then, the organization has eclipsed the ministry.