Iran's top nuclear scientist was assassinated by a remote-controlled machine gun placed in the back of another car, the country's media says

  • Iran's top nuclear scientist was killed with a remote-controlled machine gun, the country's semiofficial Fars news agency reported.

  • Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was seen as the father of Iran's nuclear program, was killed while driving with his wife and security convoy near Tehran on Friday.

  • Fars said the gun was mounted on the back of a Nissan truck that self-destructed after a three-minute attack. Iran has blamed Israel.

  • Ali Shamkhani, Iran's top national security official, on Monday said the hit was "conducted using electronic equipment and there was nobody on the scene," suggesting the weapon was remote-controlled.

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Iran's foremost nuclear scientist was killed by a remote-controlled machine gun mounted atop a truck, the country's semiofficial Fars news agency says.

On Friday, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated while driving with his wife and security convoy in the Iranian city of Absard, near Tehran. The Iranian defense ministry has given few details of the killing but has pointed the finger at Israel.

New information about the attack was reported Sunday, however, with Fars saying Fakhrizadeh stopped and left his car after mistaking several bullets that had just hit his vehicle for engine trouble.

At this point, Fars said, a Nissan pickup truck stopped 150 meters, or about 492 feet, from Fakhrizadeh, and a gun mounted on the back of the truck opened fire, hitting him twice in the back and once in the spine.

Three security cars had been traveling with Fakhrizadeh, and a bodyguard who launched himself over the scientist's body was also shot, Fars reported.

TEHRAN, IRAN - NOVEMBER 30: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - "IRANIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Amir Hatami, Iranian Defense Minister makes a speech during a funeral ceremony of Iranian Top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi, held at Defense Ministry of Iran in Tehran, Iran on November 30, 2020. Fakhrizadeh, who headed research and innovation at the defense ministry, was attacked Friday in Damavand county near Tehran. (Photo by Iranian Defense Ministry/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami gave a speech during Fakhrizadeh's funeral ceremony on Monday. Iranian Defense Ministry/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

According to Fars, after the hit on Fakhrizadeh was complete, the Nissan truck exploded. The entire attack lasted three minutes, the news agency reported.

Investigations have indicated the registered owner of the Nisan left Iran on Sunday, Fars reported, without citing the person's identity.

On Monday, the day of Fakhrizadeh's funeral, Iran's top national security official, Ali Shamkhani, told reporters the assassination was "conducted using electronic equipment and there was nobody on the scene," according to BBC Monitoring's Kian Sharifi.

Iran has blamed Israel for the attack, with Shamkhani saying on Monday that the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran, a militant group that opposes the Iranian government, was also involved.

Another popular narrative about the killing circulating in Iranian media is that Fakhrizadeh was killed by a team of 12 assassins who were part of a 62-person hit squad.

The claim was made in a series of tweets by the prominent Iranian journalist Mohamed Ahwaze, who said information leaked to him by Iranian intelligence indicating that Fakhrizadeh was dragged out of his car by the group's leader and shot dead.

On Friday, Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, also blamed Israel.

"Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today," Zarif tweeted. "This cowardice - with serious indications of Israeli role - shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators."

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An American flag burning in Tehran on Monday. Iranian Defense Ministry via Getty Images

US intelligence officials told The New York Times that they believed Israel to be behind the attack.

As Business Insider previously reported, Fakhrizadeh was a former officer in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and was widely regarded as the father of Iran's modern nuclear program.

Iran officially denies it is working to develop nuclear weapons, but in 2015 it agreed to limit its uranium stockpile as part of a deal formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the agreement in 2018, citing a lack of trust in Iran and calling the treaty - negotiated by his predecessor President Barack Obama - a bad deal. He imposed crippling sanctions on Iran in an unsuccessful effort to force the country's leaders to adhere to US demands.

While Iran was believed to be following the terms of the deal before the US withdrew, it later threatened to resume enriching uranium. Earlier this month the International Atomic Energy Agency found that Iran's uranium stockpile was more than 12 times the limit under the agreement.

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