Notable details of the lavish conspiracy to assassinate the "prominent and respected" Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh have been leaked – as the rogue nation claims Israel was behind the hit.
Fakhrizadeh – the "father" of the Iranian bombing program – was shot dead in his car by 12 highly skilled assassins after an explosion in the city of Absard, 50 miles east of Tehran.
The killers – which included two snipers – were part of a 62-strong group of conspirators. The remaining 50 people were responsible for logistical support.
Exceptional details about Fakhrizadeh's final moments were revealed by Iranian journalist Mohamad Ahwaze, who claims he received leaked information from the country's authorities.
Fakhrizadeh's death sparked tensions in the regions as Iran repeatedly blamed Israeli intelligence agency Mossad for the attack – with several prominent figures swearing vengeance.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on all state affairs, said yesterday that Iran's first priority after the murder is "definitive punishment of the perpetrators and those who ordered them." He didn't elaborate on it.
In an intervention that threatens to inflame conflict, a former head of the US Central Intelligence Agency called the attack a "criminal" act and described it as "highly ruthless".
John Brennan, who was CIA director from 2013 to 2017 under President Barack Obama, said he did not know who was responsible for the Fakhrizadeh murder but said it was "a criminal act and highly ruthless".
He warned of the murder, "risking deadly retaliation and a new round of regional conflict".
An American official and two other intelligence officials told the New York Times that Israel was behind the attack.
Notable details of the lavish conspiracy to murder the "prominent and respected" Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh have been leaked (pictured) – as the villain nation claims Israel was behind the hit
Fakhrizadeh – the "father" of the Iranian bombing program – was shot dead in his car by 12 highly skilled assassins after an explosion in the city of Absard, 50 miles east of Tehran. Pictured: Ebrahim Raisi – head of the Iranian judiciary – and family members of Fakhrizadeh stand by his body
The killers – which included two snipers – were part of a 62-strong group of conspirators. The remaining 50 people were responsible for logistical support. Pictured: the aftermath of the attack
Iranian state television published several pictures of the scene, showing shards of glass and metal
Those wounded in the attack (the consequences in the picture) were taken to a local hospital
Ahwaze said the attack was planned for a roundabout in Absard at the foot of a tree-lined boulevard leading into the city.
The team had observed Fakhrizadeh and knew that he would drive from Tehran to Absard on Friday.
Many wealthy Tehrans have a second home at the mountain retreat with 10,000 inhabitants, and 59-year-old Fakhrizadeh had a villa there.
The 12 assassins, who were described as highly qualified and supported by "security and intelligence services abroad", were dispatched to Absard, while the remaining 50 people in the 62-strong group helped with logistical support. He did not state whether they were in Iran or abroad.
A Hyundai Santa Fe with four passengers, four motorcycles and two snipers was waiting for Fakhrizadeh at the location of the ambush – along with a booby-trapped Nissan pickup.
Half an hour before Fakhrizadeh's convoy of three bulletproof cars arrived, electricity in the area was turned off, Ahwaze reported. The team was in place when the first car passed the roundabout.
As the third car drives by, the Nissan explodes and damages power poles and transmitters, according to a state television report from the region on Friday evening.
The bomb's explosive force hurled debris at least 300 meters, state television claimed.
The second car with Fakhrizadeh was then shot at by the 12 assassins, including two snipers.
The armed men with the hit squad opened fire on the cars, and violent shootings broke out, according to Sepah Cybery, a social media channel for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Ahwaze tweeted, "According to Iranian leaks, the leader of the murder team took Fakhrizadeh out of his car and shot him and made sure he was killed."
Ahwaze reported that the hit group disappeared after suffering no losses to their team.
The death of Fakhrizadeh (left) was mourned by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
The Iranian justice chief Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi respects Fakhrizadeh on Saturday together with the family of the murdered scientist
Residents told state television they heard the sound of a large explosion followed by intense machine gun fire as Fakhrizadeh's bodyguards struck back.
They knew that the man they were protecting had been Mossad's primary target for years.
A police helicopter landed in the area to transport Fakhrizadeh and others to the hospital. This is evident from a video posted by a resident who narrated the video with the words "Several people are dead".
When members of Fakhrizadeh's security detail arrived at the hospital, they were surprised to find that there was no power after the blackout. You will then be transported to Tehran.
The masters of "wet work": Israeli agents are feared for covert attacks
Israel has often favored covert "wet labor" tactics against its enemies – including assassinations.
The country's national secret service Mossad has been charged with carrying out attacks on members of the Palestinian fundamentalist group Hamas in recent years.
Prominent Iranian figures were also targets – some of them were nuclear scientists.
Inside the agency is an elite unit known as the Kidon – or "Point of the Spear" – that is well known to be responsible for assassinations.
The group has been called the "elite group of expert assassins" – but little is known about them and how they work.
Alleged Mossad attacks are usually quick and clean, including murders where the assassin is on the back of a motorcycle for easy escape.
Mossad hits usually take place outside of Israel as well, further reducing the likelihood that the attacks are state-related.
Choosing the target of the murder is a complicated process involving the Mossad itself, the Israeli intelligence community, and those in the highest seats of government.
The military can also play a role in choosing a target.
Below are some suspected – and confirmed – attacks by the Israeli state on Iranians.
February 12, 2013 – Hassan Shateri – who became known under the pseudonym Hussam Khoshnevis – was a major general in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
He was killed in an Israeli air strike in Syria.
January 11, 2012 – – The Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan was murdered in a motorcycle bomb attack in Tehran. Mossad are supposedly responsible.
November 12, 2011 – General Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam was killed – along with 17 other members of the Revolutionary Guard – in an explosion at a missile base in Tehran.
Moghaddam was the ghost behind Iran's ballistic missile forces.
Iranian officials themselves have insisted that the explosion was an accident and said there was no Israeli involvement – but some reports have accused the Mossad of being behind it.
July 23, 2011 – Iranian electrical engineer Darioush Rezaeinejad was allegedly killed by a Mossad agent on a motorcycle in Tehran.
He helped develop high voltage switches for nuclear weapons.
January 12, 2010 – – The Iranian physicist Masoud Alimohammadi was killed in a car bomb.
A man later appeared in court claiming that Massad hired him to kill Alimohammadi. US officials have dismissed the allegations.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Friday at 10:28 am EST (7:30 pm local time) that "an eminent Iranian scientist" was killed with the suspected aid of Israel.
Fakhrizadeh's body lay in an open coffin covered with a flag in a mosque in central Tehran on Saturday, where Iranian Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi prayed over his body in a public spectacle of mourning.
His death sparked tension in the region when Iran accused Israel of attempting to provoke war by killing the scientist – whom Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once said at a press conference when he said, "Remember this one." Name "exclaimed.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Fakhrizadeh "the country's prominent and respected nuclear and defense scientist" on Saturday.
Khamenei – who has the final say on all state affairs – said Iran's first priority after the murder is "definitive punishment of the perpetrators and those who ordered them." He didn't elaborate on it.
In an intervention that threatens to inflame conflict, a former head of the US Central Intelligence Agency called the attack a "criminal" act and described it as "highly ruthless".
John Brennan, who was director of the CIA from 2013 to 2017 under President Barack Obama, said he did not know who was responsible for the murder of Fakhrizadeh, but described it as a "criminal" act.
President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised address on Saturday that Israel was to blame and that Iran would take revenge for the "timely" murder of Fakhrizadeh.
Rouhani said: “Our people are smarter than falling into the trap of the Zionist regime (Israel).
"Iran will certainly respond to our scientist's ordeal at the right time."
In a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the UN Security Council on Friday, Iranian envoy Majid Takht Ravanchi wrote: “Warning of adventurous measures by the United States and Israel against my country, especially during the remainder of the current Islamic Republic of Iran reserves the right to take all necessary measures to defend its people and safeguard their interests. "
The attack on Friday also came just days before the 10th anniversary of the murder of Iranian nuclear scientist Majid Shahriari.
Tehran also blamed this attack on Israel, which came at the height of Western fears about the Iranian nuclear program.
Hossein Dehghan, who is the presidential candidate in Iran's 2021 election and adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, reiterated the claim that Israel was behind the attack.
"In the last days of their ally's political life, the Zionists are trying to intensify and increase the pressure on Iran to wage a full-blown war," wrote Dehghan, appearing to be in the last few days of US President Donald Trump's office to acquire.
There are fears that the Trump administration could order a strike against Iran in the weeks before the president hands over power to President-elect Joe Biden.
Dehghan added, "We will descend like lightning on the killers of this downtrodden martyr and make them repent of their actions."
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also said Israel was responsible for the ambush in a televised address on Saturday, saying Iran would take revenge for the "timely" murder of Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi.
Rouhani said, "Our people are smarter than falling into the trap of the Zionist regime (Israel) … Iran will certainly respond to our scientist's ordeal at the right time."
Rouhani said that Fakhrizadeh's death would not stop his nuclear program, as Supreme Leader Khamenei said.
Tehran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had suggested that Israel was behind the attack, in which he said "terrorists have murdered an eminent Iranian scientist".
Zarif wrote on Twitter: “This cowardice – with serious references to the role of Israel – shows the desperate warmongering of the perpetrators.
Former director of US intelligence, John Brennan, called the assassination of Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, a leading Iranian nuclear scientist, "criminal" and "ruthless".
"Iran calls on the international community – and particularly the EU – to end their shameful double standards and condemn this act of state terror."
Israel declined to comment immediately on the murder of Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi.
Donald Trump retweeted the New York Times article, claiming that an American official and two other intelligence officials confirmed that Israel was behind the attack.
He also retweeted Israeli journalist Yossi Melman, who described the murder as "a major psychological and professional blow to Iran".
& # 39; Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was reportedly murdered in Iran in Damavand, east of Tehran. He was the head of Iran's secret military program and had been wanted by the Mossad for many years. His death is a severe psychological and professional blow to Iran, "Melman tweeted.
Brennan also went to Twitter, claiming that while he did not know who was responsible for Mohsen Fakhrizadeh's murder, it was a "crime".
'This was a criminal act and very reckless. There is a risk of deadly retaliation and a new round of regional conflicts, ”he tweeted.
I don't know if a foreign government approved or carried out the murder of Fakhrizadeh.
Iran's promise to take revenge on Fakhrizadeh's killers is based on fears that the Trump administration could order a strike against Iran in the weeks before the president hands over power to President-elect Joe Biden
"Such state sponsored terrorism would be a blatant violation of international law and would encourage more governments to carry out deadly attacks against foreign officials."
Brennan noted that Fakhrizadeh was neither a designated terrorist nor a member of Al Qaeda or the Islamic State Group, but rather as terrorist groups that would constitute legal targets.
Brennan, a strong critic of President Donald Trump, called on Tehran to "resist the urge" to take revenge and "wait for responsible American leadership to return to the world stage," a reference to Jan. 3 election winner Joe Biden. November, who will replace Trump January 20th.
Brennan was director of the CIA from 2013 to 2017 under the direction of President Barack Obama and then Vice-President Biden.
Brennan did not participate in Biden's election campaign and did not appear to be involved in his preparations for taking office on January 20.
Earlier this week, Biden Brennans appointed former Deputy Director at the CIA, Avril Haines, as its director for national intelligence.
The US military said Friday it had dispatched the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (its flight deck, pictured Wednesday) along with other warships to the Persian Gulf to provide "combat support and air defense" to soldiers withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan
The decision to use the Nimitz (pictured on Wednesday) in the Persian Gulf was reportedly made before the Fakhrizadeh assassination
The US military said Friday it had dispatched the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz along with other warships to the Persian Gulf to provide "combat support and air protection" to soldiers withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The decision to use the Nimitz in the Persian Gulf was reportedly made before the Fakhrizadeh assassination.
Israel has so far refused to comment on the death of Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi.
Israel has long been suspected of carrying out a series of targeted murders of Iranian nuclear scientists nearly a decade ago.
Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi was named in UN sanctions resolutions for his work as the head of the Iranian Organization for Defensive Innovation and Research in 2007.
The US accuses the organization, known by the acronym SPND in Farsi, of overseeing nuclear research for Iran and training new scientists.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu named Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi as head of the SPND during a press conference in 2018.
IIn 2007, he was exposed in a leaked Iranian document as chairman of the Division for Expanding the Use of Advanced Technologies (FEDAT).
FEDAT was the code name for the organization behind the Iranian nuclear weapons program.
The leaked document aims to highlight the country's four-year plan to develop a uranium-deuteride-neutron initiator.
Fakhrizadeh headed the so-called "Amad" or "Hope" program of Iran.
Israel and the West have claimed it was a military operation examining the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon in Iran. Tehran has kept its nuclear program peaceful for a long time.
The International Atomic Energy Agency says the Amad program ended in the early 2000s. The IAEA inspectors are now monitoring the Iranian nuclear sites within the framework of the now unraveled Iranian nuclear agreement with the world power.
Senior Israeli officials this week predicted "a very delicate time" for the weeks ahead – before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
To be cautious, Israel is reportedly preparing for possible retaliation against Iran, reports Axios.
Earlier this month, Trump held an Oval Office meeting where he was prevented from launching strikes against Iran after a previous UN report showed a massive surge in nuclear inventories in violation of the Obama Pact approved by Trump in 2018 had given up.
Defense sources told the New York Times that Trump had asked about options for a bombing – likely against Natanz, Iran's main nuclear facility.
And just last week, a report from the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) showed that Iran fired advanced uranium centrifuges installed at its underground location at Natanz.
It became known that Tehran is pumping nuclear fuel into high-tech IR-2m machines at Natanz, which is in conflict with an international agreement to use only first-generation IR-1 machines.
The assassination of Fakhrizadeh has led many to speculate that he is "Iran's nuclear Qassem Soleimani".
Soleimani, a major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was murdered in a US drone attack in January this year.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once warned the world to remember this name.
The vice-chairman of the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement in Lebanon said Friday that the response to the assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh is in the hands of Iran.
"We condemn this heinous attack and see that the response to this crime is in the hands of those affected in Iran," Sheikh Naim Qassem said in an interview with Al Manar television.
He said Fakhrizadeh was killed by "those sponsored by America and Israel" and the attack was part of a war against Iran and the region. Iran pointed a finger at Israel after Fakhrizadeh was killed in an ambush near the Iranian capital Tehran on Friday. Israel declined to comment.
Earlier this month, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said Iran's allies in the region should be in a state of high preparedness for the remainder of US President Donald Trump's term in the event of "American or Israeli folly."
When asked if Israel could attack Lebanon during this time, Qassem said he did not believe it, but if it did, Hezbollah was "fully prepared" for a confrontation.
Israel and Hezbollah last waged war in 2006.
Qassem said a direct strike against Iran was unlikely as it would "ignite the entire region".
"We cannot rule out the possibility of a limited attack and the Iranians are ready for that and more, but I don't see a full-scale war on the horizon," he said.
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