Rumors circulated almost immediately that he had taken his own life, but recent reports suggest he was killed.
The older man was Ali Kordan, 51, long one of the most powerful members of the regime and a close associate of both Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad. Like so many at the top of the Iranian pyramid, he was a Revolutionary Guards veteran who held a variety of positions until his ten minutes of fame in 2008, when he was nominated to be Interior Minister. Initial opposition was defeated when Khamenei sent a letter to Parliament insisting that Kordan be confirmed, but he was forced to resign in August after it emerged that he had forged an honorary degree from Oxford University.
The AP reported that “Kordan died of heart failure Sunday after weeks of treatment for pulmonary and pancreatic problems, according to reports in Iranian newspapers and news agencies,” while Wikipedia tells us that “Kordan died of multiple myeloma at Tehran’s Masihe Daneshvari hospital on November 22, 2009. He also had influenza and brain hemorrhage.”
In reality he was murdered. Not only did he know too much, but he had assembled a devastating dossier against the regime, and was attempting to defect. It is not known what happened to all the documents he was planning to take with him.
These two murders speak volumes about the panic that has seized the regime of late. The next big opposition demonstration is scheduled for December 7th, and already the attempts at intimidation are visible. This Friday, 7 million Basijis are supposed to march to celebrate Basij Week, and cell phones all over the country have received a text message reading: “You have been identified as a participant in post-election gatherings and must refrain from such participation from now on.” The intimidation campaign has not been conducted with great efficiency; Ahmadinejad got the same message, as did a baker in Khuzestan, deep in the south.
Meanwhile, desperately searching for some sort of legitimacy, Ahmadinejad has flown off to Africa and South America. But it will take more than flowery speeches from foreign leaders–or regime funding of friendly scholars at American universities–to salvage his status. Alireza Zakani, a leading parliamentary supporter of the regime, delivered a speech that effectively confirms the accusations of election fraud that Green leader Mir Hossein Mousavi has been repeating since June. According to Zakani–whose speech made a brief appearance on an official web site and then disappeared–the fraud was confirmed by Parliamentary president Ali Larijani and former President Hashemi Rafsanjani in the days immediately following June 12th in the presence of Khamenei himself. This is an extremely explosive development, of which we are certain to hear more in the days ahead.