In their latest story about the killing of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s authorities are declaring the assassination was by a satellite-guided, remote-control machine gun.
Revolutionary Guards Deputy Commander Ali Fadavi said on Sunday that a “satellite-controlled smart system…zoomed in” on Fakrizadeh’s face. The scientist was struck by four or five bullets, including a fatal shot to his spinal cord, while his wife was unharmed “25 centimeters away”.
The general insisted that there were no gunmen in the area. Iranian authorities have not detained any attackers.
Adm. Fadavi echoed media reports of the wounding of one of Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards, saying the protector was hit by four bullets as he threw himself on the scientist.
“A War Zone”
Fakhrizadeh, the head of the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research and a Revolutionary Guards brigadier general, was slain on November 27 in Abzard, about 70 miles (43 miles) east of Tehran.
Iranian officials initially said Fakhrizadeh’s four-car convoy was halted by the detonation of an explosive in a nearby pickup. When the convoy stopped, up to 12 gunmen opened fire.
A filmmaker linked to the Revolutionary Guards said the 12 gunmen, including two snipers, were involved in the ambush.
But when there were no arrests, the officials changed the story. Fars, the site of the Revolutionary Guards, wrote that bullets from an automated weapon struck Fakhrizadeh’s car. When the scientist got out of the vehicle — “assuming the sound was caused by a collision with something or a problem in the car engine” — he was sprayed with bullets from a remote-controlled machine gun in a pickup truck 150 meters away. The truck then exploded.
The Secretary of the National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, insisted that the killing was “carried out with electronic equipment and no one was present at the scene”. He accused not only Israel but the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK), which has pursued the overthrow of the Iranian regime since 1979, of responsibility.
Fakrizadeh’s son Hamed said the side of the attack was a “full-blown war zone”.
His son Mehdi, perhaps unwittingly cast doubt on the changing story, by saying the scientist was shot at a close range of four or five meters — rather than the range of 150 meters initially put out by Iranian officials.
He quoted his unhurt mother: “She said ‘I don’t understand how the bullets didn’t hit me. I went there so that the bullets would not hit [my husband].'”
Fakhrizadeh’s sons echoed officials’ claims that their father left his bullet-proof vehicle because he thought it had broken down.
But there was no explanation why one of the scientist’s 11 bodyguards took the risk of getting out of the convoy to establish what had happened.
Iranian officials initially vowed a quick retaliation for the killing, but the Supreme Leader soon pulled back that response. He called for a full investigation of the assassination to establish the perpetrators, and for continuation of Iran’s nuclear program.
The Iranian Parliament has passed a bill commanding a return to the pre-2015 level of 20% enriched uranium, setting aside Iran’s agreement with the 5+1 Powers. However, amid objections by the Rouhani Government, the Guardian Council has blocked implementation and returned the legislation to the Majlis.
Because Iranian authorities were unable to apprehend any of the gunmen, they changed their story to this idea of a remote-controlled machine guns.
What Iran faces is that one of their top figures has been killed, indicating that it can’t protect its people or even catch those who did this.
So how does Iran respond?