IRAN has claimed the US may have been behind the “AI-machine gun” assassination of its nuclear weapons mastermind – as it announced it had arrested “terrorist” suspects.
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a senior official in Iran’s nuclear programme, was shot 13 times while driving on a road to the east of capital Tehran.
Fakhrizadeh was shot 13 times while travelling in his car
Earlier this week Iran said Fakhrizadeh was assassinated by an Israeli death squad with a machine gun that “zoomed in” on his face using artificial intelligence.
Now it claims to have arrested suspects they allege were involved in the sophisticated hit job on November 27 and claimed it was US-backed.
Iranian official Hossein Amir Abdollahian told Al-Alam TV he was unable to share the details of who they were for security reasons, but vowed they would not escape justice for the killing.
He said: “Some of the individuals involved in the execution of this assassination have been identified by our security apparatuses and even arrested.
“Were the Zionists (Israel) able to do this alone and without the cooperation of, for example, the American (intelligence) service or another service?
“They certainly could not do that.”
Iran has given contradictory details of Fakhrizadeh’s death in the daytime ambush on his car on a highway near the capital Tehran.
‘A.I CONTROLLED MACHINE GUN’
A senior Revolutionary Guards commander has said the killing was carried out remotely with artificial intelligence and a machine gun equipped with a “satellite-controlled smart system”.
Speaking to the regime-linked Mehr news agency, Ali Fadavi, deputy commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said: “The automatic weapon installed in the pickup was also equipped with a smart satellite system that zoomed into Fakhrizadeh’s face and used artificial intelligence.”
He added that the gun “focused only on martyr Fakhrizadeh’s face in a way that his wife, despite being only 25cm away, was not shot”.
There were no “terrorists” at the scene, he said, and that the gun was being “controlled online”.
Witnesses earlier told state television that a truck had exploded before a group of gunmen opened fire on Fakhrizadeh’s car.
Experts and officials told Reuters last week that Fakhrizadeh’s killing exposed security gaps that suggest Iran’s security forces may have been infiltrated and that the Islamic Republic is vulnerable to further attacks.
Ali Fadavi, deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, claimed Fakhrizadeh was targeted using artificial intelligence
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?