Reports are circulating in Iran, especially in Farsi-language social media posts, citing sources close to the members of Tehran’s City Council claiming Isa Sharifi, deputy mayor during the tenure of Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, was secretly executed by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) intelligence on charges of “espionage for an enemy state.” Ghalibaf, mayor of Tehran from 2005 to 2017, is a former ranking member of the IRGC command.
Sharifi was a senior military officer during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s and Ghalibaf’s deputy in the IRGC Air Force. He also led the department in charge of reconstructing the IRGC Air Force.
His report card includes serving in the IRGC’s 14th Division, IRGC Department of Logistics and Ordnance, and State Police Department of Logistics.
As reports leaked of a massive case of embezzlement involving the Tehran Municipality, Sharifi – known as the “Tehran Municipality Black Box” – fled to Sweden under the pretext of seeking treatment for his daughter’s illness. Reports indicate he sought asylum in the Nordic country.
Back in September 2017, the IRGC Intelligence Organization, in cooperation with the regime’s State Police, carried out a plot luring Sharifi to Armenia where he was arrested and transferred back to Tehran.
In December 2017, mediation by Ghalibaf himself and the influence of Seyed Massoud Khamenei, the son of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, led to the release of Sharifi on a massive bail. The money was provided by a group of influential regime insiders called the “Isfahanis Group,” reports indicate.
All press and media outlets inside Iran described Sharifi’s crime as a major case of embezzlement. With a very suspicious dossier and after fleeing abroad, Sharifi was reportedly hired by a foreign intelligence agency as a spy.
Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei, deputy chair for Iran’s judiciary, made these remarks in a September 2017 press conference in regards to Sharifi’s apprehension.
“I have no details yet and if I did have any details I would not be able to provide any,” he said, raising even more suspicions on this entire portfolio.
On April 22 of this year, Gholam-Hossein Esmaeeli, spokesperson for Iran’s judiciary, added further controversy when asked about Sharifi. “Unfortunately, I don’t recall!” he replied.
IRGC intelligence had realized Sharif’s suspicious communications from back in February 2018. Using advanced surveillance technologies, they obtained information indicating Sharifi was exchanging intelligence about the IRGC missile and air force capabilities with his contacts. Sharifi was arrested immediately and held in a secret IRGC site. During his detention, three of his Sharifi’s contacts in the cities of Tehran, Bushehr and Jask were arrested.
In March 2019, following execution orders specifically issued for Sharifi, Tehran City Council member Mahmoud Mirlohi, informed of details regarding Sharifi’s dossier, made interesting remarks in an interview.
“Despite being a representative of the people, I have been banned from making certain remarks. Should we not be asking where is Isa Sharifi today?” he said.
Finally, this noticeable IRGC figure and former deputy mayor of Tehran, who served alongside a senior IRGC commander for 12 years and was described as the “Tehran Municipality Black Box,” was secretly sent to the gallows in the early morning hours of June 21.
A long list of Iranian state media have denied any reports of Sharifi’s secret execution. For Iranians, this only adds to their conviction of such an individual actually being secretly executed by the mullahs’ regime.
Reports over the secret execution of a senior IRGC member follows reports of an brigadier general and 122 other Guards members being arrested by the Intelligence Ministry on espionage charges.
As the United States continues its maximum pressure policy targeting the core of the mullahs’ regime and the IRGC, rifts are running deep in the mullahs’ apparatus. What makes Tehran utterly concerned is the undeniable reality that such circumstances leave the regime utterly vulnerable in the face of a new round of nationwide protests and uprisings similar to the December 2017/January 2018 scenario that engulfed over 140 cities throughout the country.
Time will tell us more.