Archive for December 5, 2020

An Extremely Puzzling Assassination

December 5, 2020

Hmmm, interesting...

The lack of a zillion bullet holes in the target’s car is certainly curious.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, said to be Iran’s senior-most nuclear scientist, was assassinated Nov. 27. Iranian media announced Fakhrizadeh had been killed within 30 minutes of the attack.

It is unprecedented for Iranian state media to acknowledge an incident of this gravity so quickly. Fakhrizadeh was a mysterious figure who was rarely seen or photographed in public but the reports of his death quickly included several pictures of him never seen previously, as if they were ready to announce the news.

Moreover, the regime’s rapidly changing and improbable narratives of how he died, cast doubts on anything that has previously been officially stated about Fakhrizadeh.

The flurry of rapidly changing and even contradictory narratives put out by the Iranian regime and top officials raise doubts about who killed Fakhrizadeh and why. Iran’s past record of falsely blaming internal killings on Israelis and the CIA, or its pattern of complete silence, denial and Internet shut downs when other alleged acts of “terrorism” occur only add to the questions about this man’s death.

For seasoned Iran watchers, the pattern of contradictory narratives to hide the real truth is a familiar one. It happened when Iran shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 and would not immediately acknowledge its own missiles hit the plane. It happened last month when a top al-Qaida official was assassinated in Tehran, but the mullahs denied it ever happened.

In 2012, Iran tried to frame Majid Jamali Fashi as an Israeli spy who murdered the Iranian quantum field theorist Masoud Alimohammadi, who likely was killed by an Iranian government hitman. The Iranians similarly framed Mazyar Ebrahimi as an Israeli assassin for killing other Iranian nuclear scientists when he says he was tortured into a confession.

Judging by the regime’s previous track record in situations of such high sensitivity, one would have expected the internet to be shut down within minutes of Fakhrizadeh’s death. But pictures and videos of the scene were also immediately posted online by eyewitnesses without any security prevention or interference.

The killing quickly became headline news around the world, with the narrative that yet another “Iranian nuclear scientist” was assassinated by a foreign secret service agency, likely to be the Israelis. To back this conclusion, the mainstream media all pointed to the fact that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had mentioned Fakhrizadeh by name three times in 2018 while unveiling Iran’s nuclear archive, which Israel shipped out from a secret outpost in Tehran’s outskirts. “Remember his name,” Netanyahu said.

Who was Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, full name Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabad, and what exactly happened in Absard, 70 kilometers east of Tehran, in this green picturesque small town with its yellowish hills overlooking the Alborz mountains?

Little is known about Fakhrizadeh’s life before 1979. He was born in 1957, in the religious city of Qom, the main hub of Iran’s Shia seminaries.

After the 1979 revolution, he obtained a Master’s degree in solid state physics from Khajeh Nassir Toosi University of Technology in Tehran.

He then got involved with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and various military and defense projects. Since 2005-2006, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had asked to interview Fakhrizadeh, but Iran refused to make him available.

UN Security Council resolution in 2007 identified him as a senior scientist in Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Logistic of Armed Forces and as the former head of the Physics Research Center (PHRC) at Lavizan-Shian, an alleged undeclared nuclear site northeast of Tehran, where 140 metric tons of topsoil reportedly were removed to sanitize the site before an IAEA inspection.

More recently, Fakhrizadeh became the head of the AMAD project and then finally its successor, the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, or known by its Persian acronym SPND.

Iran’s official narrative of his assassination has changed substantially in just a few days, raising questions about what happened. The contradicting versions raise fundamental doubts about what exactly happened and who was responsible for Fakhrizadeh’s assassination.

Initially, a truck driver interviewed by state media claimed he saw a blue Nissan pickup truck van explode, followed by a gunfight from both sides of the road. He then saw one of the assailants lying on the road shooting at him, which prompted him to reverse away from the scene. He told state TV that five or six people were involved in the shootout.

Fereydoon Abbasi-Davaani, the former head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, gave a more detailed account on Iran’s state television about a Nissan pickup truck stopping in front of Fakhrizadeh’s convoy and exploding to stop Fakhrizadeh’s car, and then an assault squad consisting of two snipers and four gunmen in a Hyundai Santa Fe opened fire. Four motorcycles were also reportedly used by the assailants.

The pro-regime Iranian documentary filmmaker, Javad Mogouei, who knew one of Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards, then posted more details of what had happened on his Instagram account. Mogouei said there were 12 assailants in total, and only four bodyguards were protecting Fakhrizadeh and his family members. Mogouei also claimed that one of the bodyguards, Haamed Asghari, was killed after he threw himself on Fakhrizadeh trying to protect him.

Iranian news media also reported the death of the bodyguard and praised his ultimate sacrifice and martyrdom to protect the country’s top scientist.

State TV also interviewed Iran’s defense minister, Brigadier General Amir Hatami, who claimed Fakrizadeh was targeted “Because he had recently innovated a Corona test kit which was instrumental in our struggle against the coronavirus and they didn’t want us to succeed in this struggle.”

While the narrative of the 12 enemy assailants against only four heroic bodyguards explained the why the “enemy” won the day against an “invincible” Iranian security service, due to their superior numbers, it also raised questions as to how 12 attackers could have gotten away so quickly and disappeared into the thin air.

There is just one road between Absard and the nearest towns in both directions. How could 12 attackers manage to kill Iran’s top scientist in broad daylight and get away with it, in a high security designated area where many of Iran’s top rank revolutionary guards have their weekend homes?

Pictures of Fakhrizadeh’s Nissan Teana raise other questions. Taken from different angles, the pictures show a car that seemed remarkably intact with a few bullet holes in its windshield and the small rear window. The images do not match the dramatic shootout described by Iranian state media.

Later, official news denied that bodyguard Haamed Asghari had been killed, saying he suffered slight injuries as a result of his heroic action and will soon leave the hospital.

This report was followed by a completely revised narrative published by the official Fars News Agency. It claimed that there were no assailants at the scene, but Fakhrizadeh was killed by a remote controlled machine gun with Israeli military markings that was on the back of the Nissan pickup truck.

Later, Iran’s Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), Ali Shamkhani made a bizarre claim that Iran “knew Fakhrizadeh was going to be assassinated and when and where the hit was to take place and we were ready for it. However, they used a new professional specialized technique unknown to us.”

At the same time, the regime issued posters of four Arab separatists wanted in conjunction with the assassination.

Based on all the above, there can be many different scenarios as to what actually happened. Was he killed by a highly elite foreign agency? Or is it possible that it was yet another internal purge that got rid of Fakhrizadeh?

Without committing to any of the possible scenarios, there are definite advantages for the regime from Fakhrizadeh’s death. One is that if the Islamic Republic is keen to get back to renegotiating the nuclear deal, given the possibility of a new administration in the United States, they no longer have to worry about a precondition of letting the IAEA interview Fakhrizadeh.

Claiming Israel was behind the assassination also provides Iran with the justification to further violate the nuclear accords by enriching more uranium, for Iran lobbyists and Israel haters like the former CIA chief John Brennan to accuse Israel of violating international laws, and to justify possible Iranian retaliatory missile launches.

As the world collectively bemoans this “criminal act” and almost gives a license to Iran to retaliate against Israel, the only ones really smiling today are the mullahs in Iran.

Breaking Bad in Iran, Biden and Beyond

December 5, 2020


More “shock and awe” against Islamic tyrants, brought to you by, somebody…PRINTLISTEN

“There is a rank due to the United States, among nations, which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war.” —George Washington (1793)

If you’re under the age of 45, or have family members who are, you may be familiar with a TV series called “Breaking Bad.” I rarely had the inclination to tune in, both because I didn’t have the time and because in the few episodes I did watch with others, there was nothing remotely redeeming about any of the characters — just a predictable progression toward darkness. (Apparently, that darkness and lack of redemption were the art of the series.)

I did, however, watch the final episode, in which — spoiler alert — the main character, Walter White, dying of cancer, takes revenge on those who betrayed his illicit drug business. (See what I mean about “dark”?) In that episode, Walt rigs a 7.62×51mm M60 machine gun to a remote-controlled turret in the trunk of his car. Once activated, the weapon takes out all the “badder” of the bad guys.

After that episode, I observed that, logistically, the operating mechanics of the M60 remote were completely unrealistic.

It might be that my occasional editorializing about the historical or technical accuracy of theatrics explains why some people resist asking me to watch such programs with them — with apologies to my wife.

And that observation about remote-fired weapons brings me to the events of last week…

Utilizing a method that sent a bigger message than the target, another of Iran’s deadliest actors was terminated last Friday. The target was Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, described by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as “the country’s prominent and distinguished nuclear and defensive scientist.” But this rodent’s extermination was very different than the precision strike ordered by President Donald Trump a year ago, which took out Iran’s elite terrorist Corps-Quds leader, Gen. Qasem Soleimani, and his Iraqi counterpart, paramilitary commander Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes.

It’s one thing to launch a precision missile against a target — something that could not have also been arranged with Fakhrizadeh because it would have betrayed the perpetrator — but quite another to use, as reliable sources report in this case, a remote-control machine gun mounted in the back of a pickup truck on Iranian soil.

To fully appreciate the “shock and awe” message somebody sent to Iran’s Islamist dictators — the message that they are no longer safe anytime or anywhere — political analyst Dennis Prager notes: “To appreciate how remarkable this operation was, consider this: Fakhrizadeh traveled a different route to work every day, traveled in a bulletproof car and was accompanied by three personnel carriers that transported heavily armed bodyguards. The assassins had cut off electricity to the area surrounding the assassination and disabled all video cameras in the area. They exploded a car next to Fakhrizadeh’s car and had a remote-control machine gun fire at Fakhrizadeh. The entire operation took three minutes.”

The vehicle and weapons system self-destructed after the attack.

Fakhrizadeh was the fifth Iranian nuclear scientist killed since 2007, and the most direct beneficiary of those deaths is, of course, Israel. Israelis are very good at leaving no trace, no fingerprints, but there is little doubt that they had a hand in these attacks.

Israel rightfully has a “zero tolerance” policy on regional Islamic conventional and nuclear threats to its homeland.

Sometimes that hand is overt. Operation Opera in June of 1981 — the Israeli air strike against an Iraqi nuclear reactor under construction southeast of Baghdad — destroyed an Osiris-class reactor provided to then-dictator Saddam Hussein by France. Always the French…

Other times, however, the hand is covert, the work of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency in conjunction with opposition parties on the ground. The most recent attack on Iran’s nuclear weapons capability was the considerable damage in July to the Natanz nuclear facility, which produces advanced centrifuges for the weaponization of uranium. That explosion “coincided” with other explosions at different facilities.

By way of disclaimer in the latest of what The Washington Post described as “a series of unusual explosions,” Israel’s defense minister, Benny Gantz, insisted: “Not every incident that happens in Iran is necessarily connected to us. All those systems are complex, they have very high safety constraints and I’m not sure [the Iranians] always know how to maintain them.”

OK (wink and nod), it must’ve been simultaneous malfunctions at different locations!

The latest attacks have been directly against Iranian targets rather than Islamic terror proxies like Hezbollah. Clearly, Israel is getting in a few last shots before President Trump leaves office.

Predictably, Barack Obama’s former CIA director, John Brennan, the thug leader of the deep-state coup to take down Trump, condemned the assassination as “a criminal act” and “highly reckless,” labelling it as “murder” and “state-sponsored terrorism.”

For context, Trump has achieved an astounding number of Middle East policy successes, the latest being the historic brokered Saudi/Israeli meeting. Trump’s impressive foreign policy record in the region has earned him three Nobel Prize nominations. (I note “earned” because, unlike the ludicrous Nobel trophy given to Barack Obama for having merely shown up, Trump has actually accomplished substantial objectives in the region and globally.)

These Middle East successes, though, don’t overshadow his policies to contain the greatest external existential threat to the future of American Liberty, Xi Jinping’s oppressive Red Chinese regime, the originator of the devastating CV19 pandemic and puppeteer controller of dictator Kim Jong-un’s North Korea. (Here I note “external” because Joe BidenKamala Harris, and their socialist Democrat Party represent the greatest internal threat to the freedom of American citizens.)

The question for Israel now is this: Will a Biden-Harris regime revert to the Obama-Clinton-Kerry model of foreign policy malfeasance? Obama’s greatest “achievements” in the Middle East were the Benghazi cover-up, appeasing Iran with a catastrophic “nuke deal” brokered by John Kerry, (which Trump immediately and rightly canned), pandering to Syria, empowering the Islamic State, and leaving an epic humanitarian crisis of displaced Syrian refugees on the Jordanian border.

Will Biden, as Obama did before him, embrace Iran and the other bad actors in the region?

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the most effective SecState in decades, said after his meeting with Biden-Harris policy officials: “Iran is more isolated than it has ever been, [and] the Gulf states are now working together in ways that literally four years ago I don’t think anybody would have believed was possible. … So whether it’s in the Gulf states or Israel, I think they have come to appreciate that the policies that this administration put in place are the ones that are best for them, for their relationship and partnership with the United States of America.”

That was Pompeo’s effort to make nice, but he knows that Biden will likely follow the “Obama plan” in the region and, if so, Israel’s U.S. support will once again plummet, and the region’s Islamist tyrants will once again gain strength.

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