Suspicious Death of a Revolutionary Guard General
by Colonel (Retired) Wes Martin, U.S. Army Military Police
December 20, 2018

Tehran is reporting Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) General Ghodratollah Mansouri accidentally shot himself in the head while cleaning a gun. At the time of his recent death, Mansouri was a regional commander based in the city of Mashhad, five hundred miles east of Tehran.

All we know for certain is that Mansouri suffered a bullet passing through his skull. How and why that happened involves four possible scenarios.

General Mansouri accidentally shooting himself is the most improbable. It is hard to believe that a senior general of the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IGRC) failed to understand three basic rules of firearms safety: a gun is always loaded; keep your finger off the trigger until the sights are on target; and never point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy.

Anyone with a minimal level of firearms knowledge knows the first step of cleaning a gun is to remove the ammunition from the weapon. Mansouri’s military background stretches all the way from the Iran-Iraq War to combat operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Attempting to have people believe a senior IGRC general was so profoundly ignorant of basic firearms safety is inconceivable.

The second scenario is that Mansouri was assassinated. For almost a decade there has been increasing civil unrest in Iran, but primarily involving demonstrations and worker strikes. Mansouri did lead forces against ISIS and local militias. The IRGC is the Iranian government’s principal agency for exporting terrorism throughout the world. Mansouri’s troops have been oppressing Iranian citizens in his military district; however, an assassin would have to get past Mansouri’s troops and his own personal security detail. Like an accidental self-inflicted wound, assassination is very unlikely.

The truth likely rests with the two remaining possibilities. Of all the directions a weapon can be pointed, it is amazing that Mansouri died from the one that would have required his wrist to be twisted in a very uncomfortable and impractical angle. That is unless his upper arm was pointed outward and the forearm pointing back towards his head. If so, that is a contortion of intended suicide, not one used to clean a firearm.

Then comes the fourth and very possible scenario – execution by order of Tehran. The Iranian government is in meltdown. The U.S.-led sanctions are having an impact. Decades of exporting money and soldiers to fight foreign wars in lieu of using these assets at home is taking a toll. Iranian citizens have access to network-based information forums. They know what is happening in their country and the world. Citizens are becoming increasingly angry toward the fundamentalists controlling the government.

When a government resorts to oppressing is own citizens, it also becomes more paranoid. No one escapes the manifestation of that paranoia, including senior generals who have outstanding combat records. Executions are accomplished with bullets to the head. Tehran will never admit if General Mansouri fell out of grace for some real or perceived actions.

Also not to be ruled out, is a combination of the suicide and government ordered execution scenarios. In 1944, the Nazi government claimed that Field Marshal Rommel died of complications of injuries sustained in his staff car while being strafed by hostile aircraft. It was not until the fall of Germany that the world learned that Rommel’s death was ordered by Hitler. To protect his honor and family, Rommel had agreed to take his own life. No one should believe that Ayatollah Khomeini is any less capable of such an order.

There are more questions regarding the details of General Mansouri’s sudden death than answers being provided by the Iranian government. Even the brevity of the announcement raises suspicions. Unless an international investigative body is allowed to view Mansouri’s body and conduct its own unimpeded investigation, the truth about the general’s death will not be revealed.

The only other solution is to wait until the inevitable collapse of the extremist government, followed by the matter of Mansouri’s death being properly investigated. Until then, Tehran will do what Tehran does best: bury the truth; and, in this case, with Mansouri’s body.

– Colonel Martin served as senior Antiterrorism Officer for all Coalition Forces in Iraq and also spent several years on a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team

©2024 Wes Martin