The assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist involved 62 operatives
By News Agencies
November 30, 2020
HOW THE ATTACK UNFOLDED
according to Iranian journalist Mohamad Ahwaze
Remarkable detail of the plot to kill an Iranian nuclear scientist emerged on Saturday, a day after the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh reverberated around the world.
Sixty two people were involved in the scheme, according to Mohamad Ahwaze, an Iranian journalist who exposed the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic in his country.
Ahwaze said he had obtained leaked Iranian information.
Iranian officials have blamed Israel’s Mossad for the assassination. One American official and two other intelligence officials also told the New York Times that Israel was behind the attack.
Ahwaze said that 12 members of the team, who he described as being highly trained and assisted by “security and intelligence services abroad”, were deployed to the city of Absard, 50 miles east of Tehran.
The mountain retreat of 10,000 people is where many Tehranis have second homes, and Fakhrizadeh, 59, had a villa there.
Another 50 people, Ahwaze said, helped with logistical support. He did not specify whether they were in Iran or abroad. The team had been watching Fakhrizadeh, and knew that he was going to be driving from Tehran to Absard on Friday. They planned that the attack would take place at a traffic roundabout in Absard, at the foot of a tree-lined boulevard which enters the city.
A Hyundai Santa Fe with four passengers, four motorcycles and two snipers were waiting for the nuclear scientist at the scene of the ambush, along with a booby-trapped Nissan pickup.
Half an hour before Fakhrizadeh’s convoy of three bulletproof cars arrived, the electricity was cut off to the area, Ahwaze reported. The team [of Israeli assassins] were in place when the first car passed the roundabout.
As the third car passes, the Nissan explodes, damaging electricity poles and transmitters, according to a state TV report from the area on Friday night. The force of the explosion from the bomb hurled debris at least 300 meters, according to state television.
The second car, containing Fakhrizadeh, was then shot at by the 12 assassins, including two snipers. The gunmen with the hit squad opened fire on the cars, and an intense gunfight ensued
Ahwaze tweeted: “According to Iranian leaks, the leader of the assassination team took Fakhrizadeh out of his car and shot him and made sure he was killed.”
The hit squad then vanished, having sustained no losses to their team.
Residents told state television that they heard the sound of a big explosion followed by intense machine gun fire as Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards fought back.
They knew the man they were protecting had for years been Mossad’s number one target.
A police helicopter landed in the area to transport Fakhrizadeh and others to the hospital, according to a video posted by a resident who narrates the video saying “several people are dead.”
When members of Fakhrizadeh’s security detail arrived in hospital, they were surprised to find that there was no electricity after the power had been cut. They are then transported to Tehran.
At 10:28am EST (7:30pm local time) on Friday, the Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, said that “an eminent Iranian scientist'”had been killed, with the suspected aid of Israel.
Fakhrizadeh’s body lay in a flag-draped open coffin at a mosque on Saturday in central Tehran, where Iran’s chief justice, Ebrahim Raisi, prayed over his body in a public spectacle of mourning.
Dr Fakhridadeh’s death sent tensions in the region skyrocketing as Iran accused Israel of trying to provoke a war by killing the scientist — who Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu once called out in a news conference saying: ‘Remember that name’.
“Mohsen Fakhrizadeh — remember that name!”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday called Fakhrizadeh “the country’s prominent and distinguished nuclear and defensive scientist.”
Khamenei — who has the final say on all matters of state — said Iran’s first priority after the killing was the “definitive punishment of the perpetrators and those who ordered it.” He did not elaborate.
And, in an intervention that risks inflaming conflict even further, a former head of the US’s Central Intelligence Agency labelled the assassination a “criminal act” and branded it “highly reckless”.
John Brennan — who was director of the CIA from 2013 to 2017 under the administration of president Barack Obama —said he did not know who was to blame for the murder of Fakhrizadeh but labeled it a “criminal act”.
President Hassan Rouhani said Israel was to blame in a televised speech on Saturday, and said Iran would retaliate for the killing of Fakhrizadeh “at the proper time”.
Rouhani said: “Our people are wiser than to fall into the trap of the Zionist regime. Iran will surely respond to the martyrdom of our scientist at the proper time.”
In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the U.N. Security Council on Friday, Iranian envoy, Majid Takht Ravanchi wrote:
“Warning against any adventuristic measures by the United States and Israel against my country, particularly during the remaining period of the current administration of the United States in office, the Islamic Republic of Iran reserves its rights to take all necessary measures to defend its people and secure its interests.”
Friday’s attack also came just days before the 10-year anniversary of the killing of Iranian nuclear scientist Majid Shahriari.
Tehran also blamed that attack on Israel, coming as it did at the height of Western fears over Iran’s nuclear program.
The United States military on Friday said it had deployed the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz to the Persian Gulf alongside other warships in order to provide “combat support and air cover” for soldiers withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The decision to deploy the Nimitz to the Persian Gulf was reportedly made before the killing of Fakhrizadeh.
Israel has so far declined to comment on the death of Fakhrizadeh.