Following Friday’s report that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in an assassination plot, Iranian officials were quick to point fingers at Israel and the United States.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani have vowed revenge while other reports suggest that outraged protesters took to the streets and called for war against the regime’s rivals, according to The Associated Press.
Protests calling for war
According to a post from The New York Times, at least three top Iranian officials have directly blamed Israel for the assassination of the nuclear scientist and “Protests calling for war with America have erupted in Tehran.”
Three officials said Israel was behind the attack that killed Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s top nuclear scientist. Protests calling for war with America have erupted in Tehran. Follow live updates here. https://t.co/LYUMgINWyE
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 27, 2020
At least two state-run media outlets in Iran have confirmed that Fakhrizadeh was killed in what appeared to be a coordinated and planned military-style ambush while he was traveling in a car, Breitbart reported.
Fakhrizadeh has been described by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the “father of the Iranian bomb” and was more widely credited by the media and experts as being the single most important figure in Iran’s nuclear program.
Media confirms assassination
Iran’s Tansim News Agency reported that Fakhrizadeh was “martyred” in what was described as a clash between the scientist’s bodyguard team and the assassins, who were described by Iran’s Defense Ministry as “armed terrorist elements.”
Fakhrizadeh reportedly initially survived the attack but was severely wounded and transported to a hospital, only to later succumb to his injuries. An undisclosed number of other individuals, perhaps relatives of Fakhrizadeh, were reportedly also killed in the ambush.
The regime’s Fars News Agency reported that the attack began with an explosion next to the Fakhrizadeh’s car that disabled the vehicle and allowed a team of gunmen to open fire. The state-run media outlet compared this latest incident to prior assassinations and attacks on prominent members of Iran’s nuclear program over the past decade.
Leaders vow revenge
Khamenei said that Fakhrizadeh was “the country’s prominent and distinguished nuclear and defensive scientist,” and vowed that the regime’s top priority would be exacting “definitive punishment of the perpetrators and those who ordered it,” though he declined to elaborate on who that is, the AP reported.
“We will respond to the assassination of Martyr Fakhrizadeh in a proper time,” Rouhani said in a statement Saturday. “The Iranian nation is smarter than falling into the trap of the Zionists. They are thinking to create chaos.”
As Iran’s leaders pointed fingers and vowed revenge, it was announced by the Pentagon in the aftermath of the attack that the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier strike group had been ordered back to the Middle East, in order to have “additional defensive capabilities in the region to meet any contingency” — such as Iran lashing out militarily or through terror attacks.