- Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was reportedly shot and killed by Israeli operatives.
- He was a leading scientist in the Iranian nuclear program.
- Iran has promised retribution for his death.
The slaying of Iranian nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, has threatened to escalate tensions between the United States and Iran. According to reports by Iranian officials, the scientist was ambushed as he headed to his home in Absard. The scheme, which was meticulously planned, involved a squad of over 50 people.
According to the outline of events as described by Iranian sources, the scientist was traveling in a convoy when the car ahead of him got detonated.
This cut him off and allowed the attackers to move in on him. Gunmen in a car and four motorbikes attacked his security and shot at his car.
He was apparently taken out of his vehicle and shot at point-blank range by the head of the assassination team.
According to sources who spoke to Iranian journalist Mohamad Ahwaze, “The team knew exactly the date and course of the movement of the Fakhrizadeh protection convoy in the smallest details.”
Fakhrizadeh has in the past escaped an assassination attempt. The previous incident which occurred in 2008 saw a group of hitmen plant an explosive device to his car. The scientist was, however, able to escape by jumping out of the car before the explosion occurred.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has promised retribution against the perpetrators of the latest attack, and the masterminds.
Fakhrizadeh was largely unknown to regular Iranian citizens before his execution. He was, however, viewed as a cardinal figure within the Iranian nuclear program circles. Western security agencies also saw him as a primary scientist in the project.
Iranian media has sought to downplay the significance of his role in the program. The presence of a security detail at the time of the attack, however, betrays the fact that he was an important asset to the government.
There is speculation that the assassination was carried out with a political motive. Some political pundits hypothesize that his extermination was aimed at jeopardizing a cordial relationship between the Iranian regime and the incoming US administration led by president-elect Joe Biden.
In retrospect, the Iranian regime looks forward to having a cordial relationship with the Biden administration which has already signaled support for the beleaguered nation.
According to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, “The enemies are experiencing stressful weeks.
They are mindful that the global situation is changing, and are trying to make the most of these days to create unstable conditions in the region,” he said.
By ‘enemies’, Rouhani is referring to the Trump and Netanyahu administrations which have sought to undercut and antagonize the Iranian leadership in every which way.
Saudi Arabia, Iran’s archenemy in the region, is equally worried about the US change in leadership. Its extensive collusion with the Trump administration means that it may struggle to form a positive alliance with the Biden team.