An Iranian scientist who died last week under mysterious circumstances was intentionally poisoned by an acquaintance, according a report by an Iranian opposition outlet on Sunday.
Ayoob Entezari was reportedly employed at a research and development center in the city of Yazd, where he was said to have worked on developing missiles and drones before dying on May 31.
Some initial reports had indicated he died of food poisoning, but local authorities denied this, saying he died of an unspecified illness and accusing one of his relatives of spreading rumors.
Authorities in Yazd province also denied he was a significant figure, describing him as a regular employee at an industrial company, after a letter written by the governor called him a “martyr” and a picture reportedly showed local officials paying a condolence visit to his home. The province later said the use of the term was a mistake.
However, Iran International quoted unverified reports saying Entezari may have been intentionally poisoned while attending a dinner, as he died afterward.
The outlet also said some unnamed sources reported that the man who hosted the dinner party has since fled the country.
The picture on the left shows the certificate in which Entezari is called a “martyr”. The image on the right reportedly shows provincial officials visiting Entezari’s family after his death. pic.twitter.com/dwDeMBr2mu
— Kian Sharifi (@KianSharifi) June 5, 2022
Reports of Entezari’s death on Friday came a day after Iran announced the death of a colonel from the elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the second in two weeks from the unit which oversees Iran’s military operations abroad.
The official IRNA news agency said Col. Ali Esmailzadeh died during an “incident in his residence” days ago in the city of Karaj, some 35 kilometers (19 miles) northwest of the capital Tehran.
According to a report by Iran International, however, he was assassinated by the IRGC after the group suspected him of leaking information that led to the targeted killing of a third Iranian figure, Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, in May.
While a report by The New York Times has claimed that Israel was behind Khodaei’s killing, its name has not been connected with the two more recent deaths of the Iranian officials.
Nonetheless, some have warned that the incidents could lead to Iranian retaliation against the Jewish state.
The incoming director-general of Tel Aviv University’s INSS think tank, former military intelligence chief Tamir Hayman, stressed the importance of “examining these events in a strategic overview and not as separate tactical incidents.”
“While the New York Times has allegedly exposed Israel in the case of the assassination of [Khodaei], who according to reports was responsible for planning attacks against Israelis abroad, this time there’s some ambiguity surrounding the incidents (as it should be),” Hayman tweeted.
“And yet, we must examine whether or not Iran will try to attribute these latest incidents to Israel as well, which would increase their motivation to retaliate as part of what they call a “deterrence equation.”
Following Khodaei’s assassination by two unidentified gunmen on a motorbike at the heart of Tehran, Israel reportedly raised the security alert level at its embassies and consulates around the world, fearing a retaliatory Iranian attack.