Iran claims scientist was assassinated via satellite

Commanders in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have said that Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed by use of satellite and face recognition.

al-monitor A woman walks by a billboard in honor of slain nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Tehran, Iran, Nov. 30, 2020. Photo by Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images.

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satellite, assassination, revenge, jamal khashoggi, assembly of experts, ali khamenei, mohsen fakhrizadeh

Dec 7, 2020

Officials from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have divulged new information regarding the Nov. 27 assassination of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

Deputy commander Ali Fadavi said during a Q&A session at Tehran University Dec. 6 that Fakhrizadeh had 11 guards with him at the time of his assassination. He was assassinated in the suburbs of Tehran. Fadavi added that 13 bullets were fired at him from the Nissan and that the only other bullets fired were from the Iranian bodyguards. 

Fadavi also claimed that the Nissan was controlled through satellite and used artificial intelligence to zoom in on the target. He said that Fakhrizadeh was shot in the back, hitting his spinal cord.

Fadavi’s statements conflict with earlier reports from Iranian media, which described multiple shooters and a shootout. These reports also suggested an explosion took place. Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, was one of the first individuals to briefly discuss the use of the satellite-controlled attack.   

Fadavi also answered questions about former Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani who was assassinated by the United States in a drone attack in Iraq. When asked if the Rouhani administration had impeded efforts to exact revenge on the United States, Fadavi said that the IRGC answers to the commander in chief, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and does not rely on the policies of the administration. 

Ramazan Sharif, spokesman for the IRGC media team, also said that Fakhrizadeh was killed with the use of “advanced electronic tools guided by satellite.” He added that the Israelis know “that their actions will not go unanswered.”  

Iranian media has also responded to rumors published about Ayatollah Khamenei in American media. Newsweek ran a story that Khamenei was ill and had transferred power to his son Mojtaba. The claim was attributed to a Twitter user in Sweden and quickly spread on the platform. Other smaller media outlets also picked up the story. 

On the morning of Dec. 7, rumors emerged on Twitter that the Assembly of Experts, the body that chooses the supreme leader, had called for an emergency meeting. The news about the Assembly of Experts was quickly denied and reports say that the image that was shared depicting the emergency meeting was fake.

Even if Khamenei was ill and no longer could perform the duties of supreme leader, the Assembly of Experts would choose a successor, not Khamenei himself. The supreme leader of Iran, who is the commander in chief, is chosen by 88 high-ranking clerics, who are elected for eight-year terms and are highly vetted before being allowed to run for the position. In a succession situation, the Assembly of Experts would likely be under extreme pressure from outside power centers such as the IRGC, high-ranking clerics in Qom, the merchant class and others with a political and financial interest within the Islamic Republic.

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