Remote-controlled machine gun used to assassinate Iran nuke chief PROVES Israel behind attack, Iran state media claims
A REMOTE-CONTROLLED machine gun which assassinated the founding father of Iran’s nuclear weapons programme was made in Israel, Iranian state TV claims.
It is alleged the weapon collected from the site of the killing of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh has an Israeli factory logo and specifications.
Israel, long suspected of killing Iranian nuclear scientists over the last decade, has repeatedly declined to comment on the attack.
But is widely believed to be behind it and the method of execution bears all the hallmarks of an elite unit called Kidon — or "tip of the spear" in Hebrew.
Kidon and other Mossad super-spy units have a track record of brazen daylight attacks deep in behind enemy lines, using incredibly elaborate techniques to carry out what they chillingly call "wet work".
According to the Iranian Fars news agency, which is close to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the shots initially fired at Dr Fakhrizadeh's bullet-proof car came from a remotely-operated machine gun mounted on a Nissan pick-up truck, which exploded with a self-destruct mechanism.
Other reports suggest a team of gunmen was also involved in the execution at a roundabout just outside the city of Absard, east of the Iranian capital, Tehran.
The operation took just three minutes. None of the attackers have been caught.
'SATELLITE CONTROLLED GUN'
The scientist's son said his mother was also in the targeted car but survived the attack.
Iranian state TVs Arabic-language channel, Al-Alam, claimed the remote-controlled weapons were controlled by satellite, a claim also made by the semi official Fars news agency.
None of the outlets immediately offered evidence supporting their claims, which also gave authorities a way to explain why no one was reportedly arrested at the scene.
Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the country's Supreme National Security Council, told Al-Alam: "Unfortunately, the operation was a very complicated operation and was carried out by using electronic devices.
"No individual was present at the site."
The operation was a very complicated operation and was carried out by using electronic devices
Satellite control of weapons is nothing new.
Armed, long-range drones, for instance, rely on satellite connections to be controlled by their remote pilots.
Remote-controlled gun turrets also exist, but typically see their operator connected by a hard line to cut down on the delay in commands being relayed.
Israel uses such hard-wired systems along the border with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Jeremy Binnie, the Mideast editor of Jane's Defence Weekly, said: "While technically feasible, it wasn't immediately clear if such a system had been used before.
"Could you set up a weapon with a camera which then has a feed that uses an open satellite communications line back to the controller?
"I can't see why that's not possible."
It also raised the question whether the truck that exploded during the attack detonated afterwards to try and destroy a satellite-controlled machine gun that was hidden inside the vehicle.
Iranian officials did not immediately acknowledge that. It also would require someone on the ground to set up the weapon.
Who was Mohsen Fakhrizadeh?
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the Iranian nuclear scientist whose assassination the Islamic republic has blamed on Israel, was little known before his death, but one thing is certain: he was important.
The man Israel alleges was the father of an Iranian nuclear weapons programme was senior enough to meet with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in January 2019, based on official pictures released after his death.
For his assassins, Fakhrizadeh was also important enough to be killed Friday in a brazen, daylight attack on a major road just outside Tehran that Iran's top security official, Ali Shamkhani, said was carried out using new and "complex" methods.
After his death, Defence Minister Amir Hatami referred to Fakhrizadeh as his deputy minister and head of the ministry's Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND).
So what do we know about the work of the 59-year-old, bearded and spectacled nuclear scientist?
Was he the senior official who "managed nuclear defence" and did "extensive work" in this field, having played a "significant role in defence innovations", as Hatami said?
Or was he, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alleged in April 2018, the head of a secret nuclear weapons programme whose existence the Islamic republic has always strenuously denied?
Mossad murders are never claimed by Israel and it is unlikely the nation would ever admit to the killing of Dr Fakhrizadeh.
The execution comes amid ongoing tensions in the Middle East between Iran and the US — along with its allies Israel and Saudi Arabia — over the Islamic Republic's quest for nuclear weapons.
Iran has vowed to "strike like thunder" on whoever carried out the attack.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani had on Saturday accused Israel of acting as a "mercenary" for the United States by carrying out the assassination.
Fakhrizadeh's funeral was attended by several high-ranking officials, including Defence Minister Amir Hatami and Revolutionary Guards commander Hossein Salami.
As the funeral got underway, a religious singer praised Fakhrizadeh and alluded to the martyrdom of Imam Hossein, the revered 7th century holy figure from whom Shiite Muslims draw inspiration.
"If our enemies had not committed this heinous crime and spilled our dear martyr's blood, he might have remained unknown," Hatami said in a speech.
"But today, he who was only an idol for… his students and colleagues, is introduced to the whole world," he added, saying he would be an inspiration for "all who embark on the path to fight".
"The enemies should know that this is their first defeat."
Hatami had said after the scientist's death that Fakhrizadeh was one of his deputies and headed the ministry's Defence Research and Innovation Organization, focusing on the field of "nuclear defence".
In his speech, he said the government had decided to double the organisation's budget to continue Fakhrizadeh's path "vigorously".
A large display showed a picture of Fakhrizadeh next to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as former top general Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a January drone strike by the US in Baghdad.
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