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Tue, Jan 10, 2006

Iranian Senior Officers In Jet Crash Identified

IIRGC Jet Hit Village, No Survivors On Board

An Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Dassault Falcon Jet slammed into a rural village in West Azerbaijan province, near the city of Orumiyeh, on Monday. As was reported in Aero-News, all aboard the aircraft were killed on impact -- including a crew of three, several senior officers of the IRGC, and the officers' aides. Initial reports said that thirteen died in the crash, but later reports indicated that only eleven were on the plane.

Iranian news sources are counting Ahmad Kazemi, IRGC Ground Forces commander, among the dead.

The following list of eleven dead was published in the official Tehran Times:

  1. Major General Ahmad Kazemi, commander of IRGC Ground Forces;
  2. Brigadier General Saeed Mohtadi Jafari, commander of Rasulollah Division 27 of the IRGC;
  3. Brigadier General Saeed Soleimani, deputy commander for operational affairs of the IRGC Ground Forces;
  4. Brigadier General Nabiollah Shahmoradi, deputy commander for intelligence affairs of the IRGC Ground Forces;
  5. Brigadier General Abbas Karbandi-Mojarad, commander of the Qadr Air Base of the IRGC Air Force (the plane's pilot);
  6. Brigadier General Gholam-Reza Yazdani, commander of the IRGC Ground Forces Artillery Unit;
  7. Brigadier General Safdar Reshadi, deputy commander for planning of the IRGC Ground Forces;
  8. Brigadier General Ahmad Elhaminejad, commandant of the IRGC Air Force Academy (the plane�s copilot);
  9. Brigadier General Hamid Azinpur, the commander of the IRGC Ground Forces Command Office;
  10. Colonel Morteza Basiri, flight engineer;
  11. Mohsen Asadi, bodyguard of the IRGC Ground Forces commander.

As the accident appears to have been controlled flight into terrain in instrument meteorological conditions, the currency, recency and skill level of the two very senior officers flying might be called into question, but in Iran, it's unlikely that senior IRGC officers will be subjected to such scrutiny.

The black-shirted IRGC or Pasdaran is consciously modeled on the Nazi SS, much admired in the Iranian government; members are selected for their loyalty to the theocracy. They report to no one in the Government, only directly to "Supreme Leader" Ayatollah Khamenei.

The IRGC is also the power base of current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad was formerly a member of the IRGC's externally-oriented "Qods Force," which carries out operations outside of Iran.

Some IRGC units are essentially a corps d'elite paralleling the conventional Iranian Army, Navy and Air Force; and other elements act as commissars, enforcing Iranian orthodoxy on the larger, draft military.

Some of the officers who perished in the crash have only been in their current positions for a few months, according to Kazemi, the senior officer killed, was formerly the IRGC Air Force commander, but was "kicked downstairs" last August due to Ayatollah's Khamenei's dissatisfaction with his  progress on development of long-range missiles.

While conspiracy theories spread across Iran rapidly, the weather conditions where the plane crashed included a very low ceiling and blowing snow.

On December 6 an IRGC C-130 crashed into an apartment building after losing an engine, apparently a result of poor maintenance compounded by pilot error. While Ahmadinejad blamed that accident on the US weapons embargo in place since 1979, this accident involves a French airplane, and France does not participate in the arms embargo.



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