Explainer: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi chopper crash—speculation abounds about ‘Israeli connection’ : The Tribune India

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Explainer: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi chopper crash—speculation abounds about ‘Israeli connection’

President Raisi among several prominent figures to have died in air accidents

Explainer: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi chopper crash—speculation abounds about ‘Israeli connection’

File photo of Ebrahim Raisi. Source: WANA via Reuters



Tribune Web Desk

Vibha Sharma

Chandigarh, May 20  

On Sunday, a helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian crashed while crossing a mountain terrain in heavy fog, killing both the leaders. They were on their way back from a visit to the border with Azerbaijan in Iran’s northwest, according to reports.

Elected president in 2021, the 63-year-old Raisi was known as a hardline President with a position evident both in domestic as well as international politics. While initial reports cited bad weather as the reason for the crash, conspiracy theories, including a “possible Israeli connection”, have already started doing the rounds

The accident follows the exchange of drone and missile attacks between Israel and Iran over three weeks in April—the stand-off that took West Asia to a new level of insecurity, changing regional strategic scenario.

Pointing to the August 2023 air crash involving Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, geopolitical experts say such events often become shrouded in conspiracy theories. 

A key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prigozhin private military company played a key role in Ukraine following Moscow’s invasion in February 2022. However, in June 2023, he launched a rebellion against the Russian military leadership, which was called off the following day and criminal charges against Prigozhin were dropped after he agreed to relocate his forces to Belarus. But he was killed in the crash in August 2023 along with nine other persons. Media reports quoting US sources said that the crash was “likely caused by a bomb on board or some other form of sabotage”.

“Raisi is not the first world leader to have died in an air crash, there have been many air accidents that went on to become pivotal moments in geopolitical equations and history,” they add. For example, the August 1988 crash involving the then-President of Pakistan General Zia-ul-Haq, , in August 1988 near Bahawalpur. Its cause continues to remain shrouded in mystery amid speculation about sabotage and conspiracy theories.

President of Poland Lech Kaczynski too died in a plane crash near Smolensk, Russia, along with many other high-ranking Polish officials, and so did Ramon Magsaysay, the seventh President of the Philippines. According to reports, the Polish government special commission was convinced that “the 2010 plane crash that killed President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others in Russia was the result of Moscow’s assassination plan”.

Juvenal Habyarimana, President of Rwanda, and Cyprien Ntaryamira, President of Burundi, died when their plane was shot down as it was about to land in Kigali, Rwanda. “On April 6, 1994, Habyarimana’s private Falcon 50 jet was shot down near Kigali International Airport, killing him, Ntaryamira. The cause of the crash of the aircraft of Samora Machel, President of Mozambique, remains shrouded in mystery. Assertions by a South African commission that the crash was due to pilot error was rejected by the Mozambican and Soviet governments.

Abdul Salam Arif, the second President of Iraq who played a crucial role in the 1958 revolution, died when his Iraqi Air Force plane crashed near Basra. Rashid Karami, Lebanon’s most frequently elected Prime Minister and a prominent figure during the Lebanese Civil War, died when a  bomb exploded in his helicopter en route to Beirut in June 1987.

The bomb was fixed to the back of his seat and reportedly exploded soon after the take off.

Karami was the only one killed in the blast.

About The Author

The Tribune Web Desk brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune Wed Desk for not just breaking news stories but wide-ranging coverage of events.

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