Iranian scientist involved in nuclear program killed in Tehran bomb attack
By Thomas Erdbrink, Updated: Wednesday, January 11, 3:02 PM
TEHRAN — An Iranian scientist involved in purchasing equipment for the Islamic Republic’s main uranium-enrichment facility was assassinated Wednesday when a magnetic bomb attached to his car exploded in morning rush-hour traffic, Iranian media reported.
Iranian officials accused the United States and Israel of orchestrating the attack, which also killed the scientist’s driver.
Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi blamed the attack on “Zionists” and “those who claim they are against terrorism,” the semiofficial Fars News Agency reported.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was more explicit. “These actions are being committed by the Zionist regime and its agents with the support of several European countries and especially U.S. officials,” the semiofficial Iranian Students’ News Agency quoted him as saying.
The Obama administration rejected the accusation while also denouncing the murder.
“The United States strongly condemns this act of violence and categorically denies any involvement in the killing,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
Israeli officials declined to comment on the Iranian charges. “It is not our policy to comment on this sort of speculation when it periodically arrises,” an Israeli official said, speaking on condition of anonymity under government ground rules.
But in an unusual posting on his official Facebook page hours after the assassination, Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, Israel’s chief military spokesman, wrote: “Don’t know who settled the score with the Iranian scientist, but for sure I am not shedding a tear.” The posting sparked a heated debate on his page, with some readers saying he should be more discreet.
The killing bore strong resemblance to two 2010 attacks on nuclear scientists and came on the same day as a ceremony for the third anniversary of the killing of another professor, Massoud Ali Mohammadi, who also died in an explosion.
Iranian authorities likewise blamed the United States and its allies for the previous killings of scientists, saying they were part of a covert program aimed at disrupting Iran’s nuclear research.
Fars, which has close ties to the Revolutionary Guard Corps that is tasked with protecting scientists, identified the slain professor as Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, 32, a chemical engineer. The agency described Ahmadi-Roshan as a chemical engineer who served as deputy director of the Natanz uranium-enrichment facility and as the assistant to the head of procurement there.
Reacting to the killing, members of Iran’s parliament shouted, “Death to America!” and pumped their fists in the air in a show of defiance. Parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee called an emergency session to debate a response to the “terrorist act,” the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
One analyst who supports Iran leaders said it was time for Iran to strike back. “From now on, the reciprocation is internationally acceptable and legitimate,” said Mehdi Mohammadi, an international affairs analyst who regularly appears on state television. “Iran is for sure able to enter a new phase of confrontation,” he told the Asriran Web site.
“It is very clear that it had been planned and was arranged by the intelligence services of the U.S., U.K. and Saudi Arabia,” Mohammadi said. “Iran definitely will punish the agents of this terrorism action.”
Several officials linked the assassination to parliamentary elections scheduled for March 2, charging that the West is attempting to “provoke riots” ahead of the vote.
“This was a magnetic bomb, like the ones used in previous assassinations,” Safar Ali Baratloo, Tehran’s deputy governor, told Fars. “It is the Zionists’ job. They want to reduce the turnout in the upcoming elections.”
Fars said an assailant riding a motorcycle attached the bomb to Ahmadi-Roshan’s car. It also said the assassination had been caught on traffic control cameras. Another news Web site, Alef, said witnesses heard gunshots right before the explosion.
Most Iranian scientists involved in the country’s controversial nuclear program are protected by the Revolutionary Guard Corps. Security for scientists was ramped up following the November 2010 attacks, in which one scientist, Majid Shahriari, was killed, and another, Fereydoun Abbasi, the current head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, was wounded.
The site of Wednesday’s explosion, in the Seyed Khandan neighborhood of northern Tehran, was cordoned off by nervous security forces, who stopped bystanders and searched their pockets and backpacks. There were no signs of broken windows.
The exploded car, a locally made Peugeot 405, was quickly removed. Images of the aftermath showed the car being lifted on a truck, its rear windows covered by plastic sheets.
According to an influential Iranian official, the assassination of Ahmadi-Roshan and mounting suspicions that U.S.-designed sanctions are aimed at toppling the government in Tehran make it more likely that Iran would carry out a death sentence handed down Monday against Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, an Iranian American former U.S. Marine, who was convicted of spying for the CIA. His family says he went to Iran to visit his grandmother. Hekmati’s final appeal is due in 18 days.
“Certainly Hekmati deserves the death sentence,” said Hamid Reza Taraghi, a spokesman for the Islamic Engineers coalition, a group of politically active merchants who are close to Iran’s judiciary. He said the presence in the country of Iran American dual nationals posed a security risk.
“We should be much more cautious with them. The U.S. is continuing to send people here for espionage missions,” said Taraghi, who has links to Iran’s intelligence community. “We have warned Iranians living abroad not to fall in their trap.”
In recent years, Iran has seen an increase of mysterious explosions at military and industrial sites and gas transportation lines. In addition, a damaging computer virus called Stuxnet has wreaked havoc on Iran’s nuclear program.
Staff writer Joby Warrick in Washington and special correspondents Ramtin Rastin in Tehran and Samuel Sockol in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
And that scientist joins a growing list of scientists assassinated in Iran, all with connections to the nuclear program in some form along with other suspected acts of sabotage to things connected to Iran's nuclear plants, pipelines, and military defense systems.
And another article from The New Scientist regarding some going ons in cyberspace before and after this attack. Guess it shows how expansive moves against Iran's nuclear program have become- both in regards to cyberwarfare and winning over opinion on a powerful information medium:
An online skirmish between pro- and anti-Israeli hackers has escalated following the death of Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, the Iranian nuclear scientist who was killed yesterday in a car explosion.
The attacks began last week when a group of Saudi Arabian hackers called Group-XP published what it claimed were the credit card details of 400,000 Israelis, though the Bank of Israel says only 15,000 people were affected. On Saturday, Israeli deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon called the attack "a breach of sovereignty comparable to a terrorist operation", adding that "Israel has active capabilities for striking at those who are trying to harm it, and no agency or hacker will be immune from retaliatory action."
Meanwhile, an Israeli student called Amir Phadida claimed to have uncovered the identify of a Group-XP hacker known as 0xOmar. Phadida said the hacker was actually born in the United Arab Emirates and currently lives in Mexico, but 0xOmar quickly contacted Israeli news site Ynet, claiming Phadida was wrong. The hacker also told the site that his next targets include military contractors and Israeli supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems - the industrial control software previously targeted by the Stuxnet worm.
Retaliation for 0xOmar's actions came on Tuesday when an Israeli hacker called Omer Cohen published details of over 200 Saudi credit cards, using the name "0xOmer" to taunt to the Saudi hacker. Cohen did not provide provide the credit card CCV numbers, which allow the cards to be used for online purchases, saying the act was just meant to "alert". Two Saudi-based credit card holders have confirmed their details were compromised.
Speaking to the Jerusalem Post, Cohen claimed to hold the personal details of over 10,000 people in Saudi Arabia and 300,000 Saudi credit cards. He also said that another member of his hacking group, named Israel Defenders, is a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces working in military intelligence.
Now, Anonymous has weighed in. Yesterday former LulzSec leader and outspoken Anonymous member Sabu called for hackers to attack Israel in revenge for the death of Ahmadi-Roshan. He later retweeted a message from another Anonymous Twitter account dubbed FuryOfAnon with what he claimed were the internet protocol (IP) addresses and login information for Israeli SCADA systems.
Accessing the IP addresses brings up a variety of login pages, including some that appear to be the control panels for commercially available web routers. It is not yet clear whether the addresses are actually connected to SCADA systems, or whether 0xOmar was involved in accessing them.
7th December 2003
Looks like the Israeli intelligence agencies are busy these days.
Although I doubt that this strategy is going to be succesful. Murdering civilians on the street might antagonize a few people and not only Iranians. The important people probably have lots of security by now. And the less important people can be exchanged. How much do you really have to know about physics to follow a North Korean or Pakistani manual?
As badly as the Iranian 'brain drain' has been these last few decades, losing a single competent physicist or nuclear engineer is a crippling blow.
Voice of joy and sunshine
26th May 2003
You'd think they'd build a complex somewhere and not let them out. When your national resources are just walking around the streets for anyone to shoot.... Got to wonder about the sanity of that.
Roaming East;5601168As badly as the Iranian 'brain drain' has been these last few decades, losing a single competent physicist or nuclear engineer is a crippling blow.
It might discourage people from working in these programs if they feel they can't even be protected on the streets from this sort of violence. Last thing a scientist needs to worry about is getting killed, even if they are involved in controversial programs.
While this thread is on, there was an article on Foreign Policy which claims to have gotten CIA memos regarding an Israeli operation within Iran posing as CIA agents to rile up Jundallah (states to be fighting for the rights of Sunnis in the Shi'a government, but it's essentially a Balochi secessionist group) in their actions against the government.
What ever the case, it's becoming quite messy with the two nations using proxies to hit the other.
As easy as it is to blame Israel and Israel certainly could be involved, there are a number of Gulf States who dont want a nuclear Iran just as much as Israel and west dont.
I have to wonder how hard it would be for some of these agencies to perform attacks and blame it on US or Israel to divert attention.
Saudi's for instance are very wary of a nuclear Iran to the point of supposedly allowing Israel to pre position equipment at certain Royal Saudi Air Bases and IMHO would lose no sleep if a Iranian Scientist was killed and Israel was blamed.
What is this place?
17th February 2007
Might have already been linked and discussed on here, but i found this an interesting bit of information to fuel the fire. Iran sends rare letter to U.S. over killed scientist - Yahoo! News
“From now on, the reciprocation is internationally acceptable and legitimate.”
What could this hint to?
“From now on, the reciprocation is internationally acceptable and legitimate.”
What could this hint to?