Al-Jazeera / November 30, 2020
A senior Iranian security official offers a drastically different account of the high-profile assassination.
Tehran, Iran – A senior Iranian security official alleges that Israel assassinated top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh using remote-controlled technology.
“Unfortunately, the operation was very complicated and was done using electronic equipment and no [perpetrators] were at the scene,” Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, told reporters during Fakhrizadeh’s burial ceremony on Monday.
Shamkhani said there was no doubt that Israel and its national intelligence agency, Mossad, were behind the attack.
Israel wanted to kill Fakhrizadeh for 20 years, the official said, adding “this time, the enemy used a completely professional, sophisticated and new method” that was finally successful.
He also accused the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) – a foreign-based Iranian “regime change” organisation – of having a role in the attack without elaborating.
Iran considers MEK a terrorist organisation and accuses several European states of harbouring its members.
Shamkhani’s remarks on Monday drastically change the initial account of Fakhrizadeh’s assassination.
At first, reports said a pick-up truck parked by the side of the road exploded and then several gunmen opened fire on the vehicle carrying Fakhrizadeh, mortally wounding him and wounding a bodyguard.
But Shamkhani’s comments are more in line with several reports by Iranian media in the past day.
‘Remember that name’
On Sunday, the semi-official Fars news website said a remote-operated machine gun was mounted on the pick-up truck that later exploded.
Several bullets were fired at first, it said, prompting Fakhrizadeh to exit his bulletproof vehicle thinking there was something wrong with the car. He was then hit with multiple rounds, the report said.
Earlier on Monday, state television’s English-language channel Press TV reported a weapon recovered from the scene of the attack bore “the logo and specifications of the Israeli military industry”.
Al-Alam, the state broadcaster’s Arabic-language channel, claimed the weaponry used was “controlled by satellite”.
All of the news outlets cited unnamed sources, not immediately offering evidence to back up their claims.
Iran has vowed revenge for the assassination of Fakhrizadeh and called on the international community to explicitly condemn it as an “act of terror”.
Israel and Western intelligence have for years considered Fakhrizadeh to be the head of Iran’s secret nuclear weapons programme that was disbanded in 2003.
In 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu specifically mentioned Fakhrizadeh in a presentation, saying “remember that name”.
About a decade ago, a string of successful assassinations targeted senior Iranian nuclear scientists. Israel has long been suspected of carrying out those attacks.
Maziar Motamedi is a Tehran-based journalist who covers Iran