Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Mossad Behind Assassinations of Iranian Nuclear Scientists
Iranians carry coffin of Darioush Rezaeinejad, in a funeral ceremony, on Sunday, July 24, 2011, in Tehran, Iran, after he was killed in a deadly shooting on Saturday. Iran said the victim was a university student _ not a physicist involved in the disputed nuclear program as state media first reported. Initial reports said a pair of gunmen firing from motorcycles killed 35-year-old Darioush Rezaei, a physics professor whose area of expertise was neutron transport. Several news reports, including by the semi-official ISNA news agency, linked him to the country's nuclear program. But an investigation later determined the slain man was Darioush Rezaeinejad, an electronics student at Khajeh Nasir University in Tehran. (AP Photo)
Mossad Behind Tehran Assassinations, Says Source (Der Spiegel):
One atomic researcher after the other has died in a series of recent murders in Iran. Is Israel’s Mossad trying to sabotage the construction of a nuclear bomb with the attacks? Officials in Jerusalem aren’t denying anything. Israeli military generals are even more hawkish, and their calls for air strikes on Iran are growing louder.
“Israel is not responding,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said earlier this week when asked if his country had been involved in the latest slaying of an Iranian nuclear scientist. It didn’t exactly sound like a denial, and the smile on his face suggested Israel isn’t too bothered by suspicions that it is responsible for a series of murders of physicists involved in the controversial Iranian nuclear program.
There is little doubt in the shadowy world of intelligence agencies that Israel is behind the assassination of Darioush Rezaei. “That was the first serious action taken by the new Mossad chief Tamir Pardo,” an Israeli intelligence source told SPIEGEL ONLINE.
On July 23, Rezaei became the latest victim in a mysterious series of attacks over the past 20 months which has seen the virtual decimation of the Islamic republic’s elite physicists. The 35-year-old died after being shot in the throat in front of his daughter’s kindergarten in east Tehran. The Iranian press has reported that the two alleged perpetrators in the attack escaped on a motorcycle.
Rezaei is the third Iranian nuclear physicist who has paid for his job with his life since the start of 2010:
In January 2010, the nuclear physicist Masoud Ali Mohammadi died when a remotely detonated bomb rigged to a motorcycle exploded next to his car. Western experts considered Mohammadi to be one of Iran’s top nuclear scientists.
On Nov. 29, 2010, unknown perpetrators committed two attacks which involved motorcyclists attaching explosive devices to their victims’ cars while driving. Majid Shahriari, a professor of nuclear physics who specialized in neutron transport, which is relevant for making bombs, was killed when his car exploded. His wife was seriously injured in the attack.
Fereidoun Abbasi was targeted in a simultaneous attack. Abbasi, an expert in nuclear isotope separation, noticed the suspicious motorcyclist, however, and he and his wife jumped out of the car. They were both injured in the explosion. After Abbasi recovered, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appointed him as one of Iran’s vice presidents as well as head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.
According to sources in Israeli intelligence, the killings are part of a campaign to sabotage, or at least slow down, Iran’s nuclear program. The alleged campaign also involves other tactics as well as targeted assassinations. The cyber-attack using the Stuxnet computer virus, which paralyzed large parts of the Iranian nuclear program in the summer of 2010, is supposedly also part of Israel’s secret campaign against Iran.
But for hardliners in the Israeli military, the covert action does not go far enough. The calls for bombing Iran are getting louder and louder, especially among Israeli Air Force officers, the informant told SPIEGEL ONLINE. There is apparently a heated debate about the effectiveness of such assassination campaigns and whether they can fulfill their goal, reported Yossi Melman, intelligence expert at the Israeli daily Haaretz. In addition, Israel has already faced fierce criticism over other assassinations allegedly committed by its agents in foreign countries.