November 17, 2011: Was this another Israeli attack on Iran? On November 12th, Iran lost the general in charge of its ballistic missile program, Hassan Moghadam. He died in a munitions storage site outside the capital, along with 16 other Iranians, when something exploded, leading to many other explosions. All the victims were members of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and Moghadam was a major general.
At first, the incident was blamed on an accident, even though such catastrophes are often blamed on Israel or the United States. In the last few years, Iran has been less inclined to do that, because they have been taking more losses in their nuclear and missile programs. Key people are being killed, and several computer based attacks (like Stuxnet) did serious damage to nuclear and missile facilities. Israel is also believed responsible for so many more Iranian weapons smuggling operations being revealed, and prosecuted. As much as Iran liked to blame Israel, they do not want Iranians to believe that the Israelis were that successful.
Within days of the explosion that killed general Moghadam, stories began circulating that the Israeli secret service (Mossad) was behind the explosion. Could Mossad have done it? Could Mossad have gained access to the munitions storage site and caused the explosion and planted a device that would have triggered the "accident"? They could.
For example, one of the unique Special Operations units in the world is the Israeli Yahalom battalion. This is a combat engineering unit that includes platoons dedicated to specialties like defeating booby traps and roadside bombs, finding and destroying smuggling tunnels, building specialty demolition bombs and engineering tasks in general. A Yahalom unit also operates the D9 armored bulldozers that support troops in urban combat.
Yahalom both develops new equipment and weapons, and also provides operators to use some of these weapons. Members of Yahalom must undergo 18 months of training before they are ready for service. Think of Yahalom as the special operations gadget experts. They will design and build whatever is needed, bringing in outside contractors as needed. Most of the gear that Yahalom has developed is still classified, and only seen when used in combat. Yahalom tries to keep their gear secret, so that the enemy does not know exactly what they are up against. If they do, countermeasures can be developed. Thus Yahalom is one Israeli outfit that could have created something found in an Iranian munitions depot, that was actually a remotely controlled explosive.
Iran knows about Yahalom, but declines to discuss this outfit publicly. All Israeli officials would say was that they hoped there were more such accidents as the one that killed Moghadam.