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New Details Emerge About Fakhrizadeh's Assassination

New Details Emerge About Fakhrizadeh's Assassination

Monday, 20 September, 2021 - 07:45
A view shows the scene of the attack that killed Iran's top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh (File photo: Reuters)

A recent report published by the New York Times revealed that the US administration was aware of the assassination plan to kill Iran's top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh last November.

Several Iranian news organizations reported that the assassin was a killer robot and that the entire operation was conducted by remote control.

According to an intelligence official familiar with the plot, Israel chose a particular model of a machine gun attached to an advanced robotic apparatus.

Asked to comment about the New York Times report, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the claims about the manner of the assassination as described by the US newspaper merited attention only as a "newspaper report."

Khatibzadeh added that Iran's security and intelligence bodies had detailed reports of the incident, including "all those who had participated" in operation.

In the report published on Saturday, NYT detailed the last hours of Fakhrizadeh’s life.

Iran's intelligence service had warned him of a possible assassination plot, but Fakhrizadeh had brushed it off.

Israel had wanted to kill Fakhrizadeh for at least 14 years, convinced that he was leading Iran's efforts to build a nuclear bomb. But there had been so many threats and plots that he no longer paid them much attention.

The newspaper pointed out that Fakhrizadeh followed an evasive style in his daily life after a series of Israeli operations targeting experts believed to be leading Iran's nuclear program.

In 2009, a hit team was waiting for Fakhrizadeh at the site of a planned assassination in Tehran, but the operation was called off at the last moment. The plot had been compromised, the Mossad suspected, and Iran had laid an ambush.

Fakhrizadeh disregarded the advice of his security team and often drove his car instead of having bodyguards drive him in an armored vehicle.

"It was a serious breach of security protocol, but he insisted."

The newspaper pointed out that preparations for the assassination began after a series of meetings toward the end of 2019 and in early 2020 between Israeli officials, led by the Mossad director, Yossi Cohen, and high-ranking US officials, including President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and CIA director Gina Haspel.

Israel had paused the sabotage and assassination campaign in 2012 when the United States began negotiations with Iran leading to the 2015 nuclear agreement.

After Trump had revoked that agreement, the Israelis wanted to resume the campaign, according to the NYT.

In late February 2020, Cohen presented the US officials with a list of possible operations, including the murder of Fakhrizadeh.

"The American officials briefed about the assassination plan in Washington supported it, according to an official who was present at the meeting."

According to the newspaper, the tight security around Fakhrizadeh prevented the repetition of previous methods used to kill Iranian scientists, which prompted the Mossad to change its tactics using a robot.

This is not the first time that a foreign newspaper has published details of Fakhrizadeh's assassination.

Last February, UK's Jewish Chronicle reported more detailed information about the operation. It indicated that the scientist was killed by a one-ton automated gun smuggled into the country piece-by-piece by the Mossad.

Intelligence sources disclosed that the 20-plus spy team, which comprised both Israeli and Iranian nationals, carried out the high-tech hit after eight months of painstaking surveillance.

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