Before you start running to cast blame – or give credit, I suppose, depending upon your perspective – keep in mind that no one actually knows who was responsible for killing Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh today.
Head of Iran’s nuclear program Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, 59, was assassinated in Damavand, east of Tehran, local Iranian news reported on Friday.
Iran later confirmed the reports. “The nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated today by terrorists,” the Iranian Defense Ministry wrote in a statement, while not blaming any specific entity for the incident.
Fakhrizadeh was a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) officer and headed Iran’s nuclear weapons project. He was a professor of physics at the Imam Hussein University in Tehran and was former head of Iran’s Physics Research Center (PHRC).
The semi-official Fars News Agency, affiliated with Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, stated that Fakhrizadeh was injured in the attempted assassination and later died in the hospital.
“News sources say a scientist has been the victim of an assassination attempt in an armed attack by unknown people on his team of bodyguards,” Iranian state television said in rolling coverage of the incident.
“Unfortunately, the medical team did not succeed in reviving him, and a few minutes ago, this manager and scientist achieved the high status of martyrdom after years of effort and struggle,” a statement by Iran’s armed forces carried by state media said.
Pictures from the scene show two vehicles, one blown up and one shot at from the front. Several local reports in Iran indicated that a suicide bomber was involved in the attack, but that has not yet been confirmed.
I’ve always been curious where the dividing line between assassination and murder is. It’s not merely about military targets, because when low-level soldiers are targeted and killed, they are seldom described as being assassinated. Perhaps the distinction is between strategic and tactical targets?