MESOPTAMIA NEWS BACKGROUNDER : ‘Iran has become Mossad’s street corner’: Iran marks death of nuke chief
Iranians tweeted about the killing with surprise and also highlighting the abilities of those who allegedly killed him.
By SETH J. FRANTZMAN NOVEMBER 27, 2020 22:49 – JERUSALEM POST
Iranians responded with awe and surprise as a key Iranian nuclear scientist was gunned down east of Tehran. Farsi social media was full of tweets about the surprising shooting of one of the key men behind the nuclear program in Iran. “It seems that Tehran has become a Mossad street corner,” wrote one man on Twitter.
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was a man who “avoided the limelight,” said the Guardian. Yet he was in the limelight and when he was killed the gunmen not only shot up one vehicle, but appeared to blow up a second, perhaps a security detail travelling with him. He was not so secretive. He was well known enough that within hours Iranian regime media and foreign media were already publishing reports about him. Like Qasem Soleimani, the IRGC Quds force “shadow commander,” he was not so much in the shadows, and when he came out of the shadows it was in a hail of bullets.
Born in the city of Qom, known for its holy sites and religious clerics, he was a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. He was in the circles who were “closely watched” by the US and others, according to reports. But he was not a “household name.” He was born in 1958 and grew up under the Shah, coming of age during the Islamist revolution. He was a Brigadier General in the IRGC, reports say. This means he was ideological, not just a scientist. Other key elements of Iranian nuclear program have been targeted over the years.
In 2012 an Iranian nuclear scientist was also killed in Tehran. Earlier this year, in June and July, several mysterious explosions targeted Iran’s missile program near Khojir and at the nuclear site at Natanz. Iran has also been targeted by a computer virus that set back its nuclear program in the last decade and a half.
The killing on November 27 set shockwaves through those who watch Iran. He was an academic and was accused by Israel of work on the secret Amad program to develop nuclear weapons and had been targeted in the past. He had a security detail. He was named by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a 2018 speech.
Iranians tweeted about the killing with surprise and also highlighting the abilities of those who allegedly killed him. Besides the tweets blaming Mossad and Israel, there were other debating how it came about. One user suggested that the hit was linked a meeting several days ago between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Other have comments on this “message” to Iran that was sent about a week ago during the high level meeting.
Another user on Twitter wrote “The assassination of Fakhirzadeh, the most prominent figure and most important commander of the IRGC [nuclear program] is the biggest intelligence failure of the IRGC in 39 years. The intelligence a abilities of the Islamic Republic is an illusion.” The user suggested that Iran is only good at arresting dissidents, not protecting its own high level officials.
Pro-Iran IRGC members tweeted that the assassination showed the failure of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s policies of dealing with the West. One user wrote “Two months ago you said if something would happen to any of our nuclear scientists, then we will retaliate. It’s time to do so, not to say slogans.” In a sense this means that Iran warned after the Natanz sabotage that they would retaliate. However Iran has not retaliated against anyone, yet.