On the 27th of November of last year, Iran was mobilized after an assassination operation that took place in the city of Absard in Damavand in the capital, Tehran. One of the most prominent developers of the Iranian nuclear program.
Since that date until today, there have been many stories about the details of the operation, the actors, and the reactions.
Despite the passage of long months, the operation returned to the fore after a report published by the American newspaper “The New York Times”, which stated that Israeli agents had planned to kill the largest Iranian nuclear scientist for years, until they found a way to achieve their goal without the presence of elements for them on the ground.
The remarkable thing is that Iran kept Fakhrizadeh out of sight for a long time, even his photos were rare, and his looks were known only after his death.
Warning before the assassination
The new information indicated that Zadeh woke up at dawn on the day of the assassination, setting out with his wife to their summer home in the countryside, specifically to Absard, a rural town east of Tehran, where they intended to spend the weekend.
Although the Iranian intelligence service had warned him of the possibility of an assassination plot against him, the world did not listen. Rather, he completely denied it and continued his normal life routine.
Israeli plan and goal
The report also indicates that Israel was convinced that the dead scientist was leading Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear bomb, and that is why it decided to kill him 14 years ago.
While Fakhrizadeh wanted to live a normal life despite his prominent position in the Iranian military establishment, he often drove his private car instead of the guards despite the advice of his security team, breaking protection protocols.
On the day of the assassination, he was driving his black Nissan Tina sedan, and his wife was in the passenger seat next to him, alone and unaccompanied.
Systematic targeting, but he was not injured
According to the information, the Israeli government, represented by the foreign intelligence agency “Mossad”, has worked since 2004 to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, and has carried out campaigns of sabotage and cyber attacks against Iranian nuclear fuel enrichment facilities.
It has also been systematically selecting experts believed to be leading Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the newspaper reported.
And in 2007, its agents assassinated 5 Iranian nuclear scientists and wounded another. Most of those killed worked directly with Fakhrizadeh on what Israeli intelligence officials said was a secret program to build a nuclear warhead.
Israeli agents also killed the Iranian general responsible for developing the missiles and 16 members of his team.
Two years later, in 2009, while an Israeli assassination team was waiting for Fakhrizadeh at the planned site in Tehran, Israel called off the operation at the last minute, as Mossad suspected that the plot had been infiltrated and that Iran had set an ambush.
On that day (the day of the assassination), Iranian agents working for the Mossad had parked a blue Nissan Zamyad pickup truck on the side of the road connecting Absard to the main highway.
At a spot at a slight elevation, under the tarpaulin and building materials in the trunk of the truck was hidden a 7.62mm sniper machine gun. At about 1 p.m., the execution team received a signal that Fakhrizadeh, his wife, and a team of armed guards in escorting cars were about to leave for Absard.
Then the perpetrator, a skilled sniper, took his position, seized the gun, and raised the weapon, holding the trigger.
The remarkable thing, however, was that the perpetrator was not close to Absard, but was looking at a computer screen in an unknown location hundreds of miles away. Even the entire hit squad was not in Iran.
After the operation, there were many news reports that were confusing, contradictory and often wrong.
One report stated that a team waited along the road for Fakhrizadeh to pass his car, while another said that residents heard a large explosion followed by machine gun fire.
And others reported that a truck exploded in front of Fakhrizadeh’s car, then 5 or 6 armed men jumped out of a nearby car and opened fire on him.
Meanwhile, a channel affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards reported on social media that a clash of arms occurred between the world’s guards and the attackers.
And those reports continued to come even days after the accident.
Until several Iranian news agencies reported that the killer was a robot, and that the entire operation was conducted by remote control, but this account drew the ridicule of Iranians who found it an attempt to reduce the embarrassment of the elite security forces that failed to protect one of the most heavily guarded figures in the country.
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh’s car (Reuters)
While electronic warfare analyst Thomas Withington saw that the killer robot theory should be taken into account with a few additions, considering Iran’s description of what usually happens as nothing more than buzzwords, except in this incident, he actually stressed that the perpetrator is a killer robot.
Artificial intelligence powered by advanced weapons
According to interviews with US, Israeli, and Iranian officials, including two intelligence officials familiar with the details of the planning and execution of the operation, and statements by the dead man’s family to Iranian media, the success of the operation was the result of several factors:
The first was due to the serious security failures for which the Iranian Revolutionary Guard bears the responsibility, as well as due to extensive planning and monitoring by the Mossad, and with them the indifference with which Fakhrizadeh dealt with warnings.
Fakhrizadeh’s car after the attack on November 27
The most important thing was the high technology in which Israel worked, using artificial intelligence and multiple types of satellite cameras capable of firing 600 rounds per minute.
The remote-controlled submachine gun and the combat drone that was used in the arsenal of high-tech weapons for remote targeted killing, as this weapon does not attract attention and can shoot down a drone and put it anywhere.
“Remember this name”
According to a source who attended the meeting, preparations for the assassination of Fakhrizadeh began after a series of meetings that began at the end of 2019, and the beginning of 2020 between Israeli officials led by Mossad director Yossi Cohen, and high-ranking US officials, including President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Gina Haspel.
Throughout the past period, Israel has never lifted its eyes on Fakhrizadeh, but has been at the top of the wanted list since 2007.
In 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a press conference to present the documents obtained by the Mossad from the Iranian nuclear archive, pointing out that they proved that Tehran still has an active nuclear weapons program. Fakhrizadeh was mentioned in the meeting several times, and he said: Remember this name.
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh (Reuters)
Informed American officials then endorsed the assassination plan in Washington, to begin the journey of tracking the slain scientist.
American sponsored plan
According to the report, Iran has learned many lessons since the killing of the Revolutionary Guards commander Qassem Soleimani, which is why it left an elite security unit in the Revolutionary Guards, heavily armed and well-trained, escorting Fakhrizadeh’s movements in convoys of 4 to 7 vehicles, and they changed the routes and timing to thwart No possible attacks.
However, Israel chose a special model of the Belgian FN MAG submachine gun connected to an advanced robotic device, according to an intelligence official familiar with the plan.
The official said that the system was no different from the Sentinel 20 system made by Spanish defense contractor Escribano, except that the machine gun, the robot and its components and accessories combined weighed about a ton, so the equipment was broken down into its smallest possible parts and smuggled into the country piece by piece, in different ways and times. It was secretly reassembled in Iran.
Robots, surveillance cameras, and sprinklers
The robot was also built to fit the bed of the Zamyad pickup, a vehicle commonly used in Iran, where cameras were installed covering multiple directions to give the cockpit a complete picture not only of the target but of its security details, and the surrounding environment, until the vehicle became full of explosives so that it could be detonated to Small parts after the murder, destroying all evidence.
The artificial intelligence was programmed to compensate for the delay, vibration and speed of the car, while the other challenge was determining the actual time, as Fakhrizadeh was the one who was driving the car and not one of his sons, wife or bodyguard, and because Israel lacks the monitoring capabilities in Iran that it has in places Others the process was difficult.
Netanyahu talks about Fakhrizadeh and shows a picture of him
The solution was to place a broken fake car, resting on a winch with a missing wheel, at the intersection of the main road, so that vehicles heading to the park the world was heading to would have to turn back about three-quarters of a mile from the kill zone, and that car also contained cameras.
When the convoy left the city of Rustamkala on the coast of the Caspian Sea, the first car carried a security element, followed by a black unarmored Nissan car driven by Fakhrizadeh with his wife, Sadeqah Qasemi, at his side. Two security cars followed the convoy.
The security team had warned Fakhrizadeh that day of the threat against him and asked him not to travel, according to his son Hamid Fakhrizadeh and Iranian officials.
Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the Supreme National Assembly, later told Iranian media that intelligence agencies were aware of the possible location of an assassination attempt, but were not sure of the date.
He also added that Fakhrizadeh, despite the many threats, no longer cares about them and does not take them seriously. He refused to ride in an armored car on the day of the assassination and insisted on driving one of his cars himself.
He added that Zadeh had refused the escort to drive that day, noting that had he been sitting in the back, it would have been much more difficult to identify and kill him.
What happened in less than a minute?
Shortly before 3:30 pm, the convoy reached the bend, Fakhrizadeh’s car almost stopped, and he was fully identified by the operators who were also able to see his wife sitting next to him. The machine gun fired a burst of bullets that hit the front of the car. These shots hit Fakhrizadeh, but the car swerved and stopped.
The shooter adjusted the sight and fired another shot, hitting the windshield at least 3 times and hitting Fakhrizadeh at least once in the shoulder.
Iran’s military leaders at Fakhrizadeh’s funeral
When he got out of the car, he sat in a squatting position behind the open front door, and according to the Iranian Fars News Agency, 3 bullets penetrated his spine, then he collapsed on the road, then his wife ran to him and he said to her: “They want to kill me and you have to leave,” but she sat on the ground and put his head on her lap.
Explosion did not work
The explosion was the only part of the operation that did not go as planned. The aim of the explosion was to tear the robot to shreds so that the Iranians could not piece together what had happened. Instead, most of the equipment was thrown into the air and then fell to the ground, damaging Irreparably, they were clearly defined.
The Revolutionary Guards assessed that the attack was carried out with a remote-controlled machine gun, equipped with an intelligent satellite system using artificial intelligence.
The whole process took less than a minute, during which 15 bullets were fired.
From the scene of the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh (AFP)
Iranian investigators indicated that Fakhrizadeh’s wife was not injured even though she was sitting inches away, an accuracy they attributed to the use of facial recognition software.
The dead man’s son, Hamed Fakhrizadeh, later explained that he was at the family’s home in Absard when he received a distress call from his mother, and within minutes had arrived at the scene of the assassination, which he described as a scene of complete war, as smoke and fog prevented his vision and smell of blood.
Fakhrizadeh, head of the Research and Technology Center at the Iranian Ministry of Defense, who was considered one of the most prominent developers of Iran’s nuclear program, was killed on November 27, 2020, in an assassination operation that Tehran described as “terrorist.”
From the funeral procession of Fakhrizadeh
And the Iranian Ministry of Defense stated at the time, that “armed terrorist elements attacked a car carrying Fakhrizadeh,” who was seriously injured “during the clash between his security team and the attackers, and he was taken to the hospital, where he died despite the doctors’ efforts to save him.”
In addition, Iran accused Israel, which had previously pledged repeatedly to take all possible measures to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, of being behind this operation.
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