The Iranian Nuclear Scientists on Someone's Kill List

It's the most dangerous career track you could choose, if you believe Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency.

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It's the most dangerous career track you could choose, if you believe Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency. Today, Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was killed in an explosion after a motorcyclist planted a magnetic bomb under his Peugeot 405, the news agency reported. This was the fourth such instance a scientist affiliated with Iran's nuclear program was reportedly attacked in the last two years. The origins of this shadow war against Iran is subject to dispute, with Iranian officials and independent observers pinning the assassinations on Israel's intelligence agency Mossad and others speculating that the victims were opposition members targeted by the Iranian regime. Regardless, here's the trail of mysterious killings associated with Iran's nuclear program:

Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan 

Fars released this image of Ahmadi Roshan today, describing the chemistry expert as the deputy in charge of commerce at Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment facility. The employment details were corroborated by a posting on the website of Sharif University in Tehran, which Ahmadi Roshan graduated from about ten years ago, according to AFP.

Witnesses told Reuters "they saw two people on the motorbike stick the bomb to the car. As well as the person killed in the car, a pedestrian was also killed by the blast. Another person in the car was gravely injured."

Fars quoted Tehran's deputy governor, Safarali Baratloo, saying “The bomb was a magnetic one and the same as the ones previously used for the assassination of the scientists and is the work of the Zionists."


Majid Shahriari 

To the right is a Reuters photograph depicting Iranian students protesting in front of a picture of nuclear scientist Majid Shahriari, who was assassinated last year. According to MSNBC, "The slain scientist, Majid Shahriari, was a member of the nuclear engineering faculty at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran and cooperated with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran."

The assassination of Shahriari in November 2010 was similar to today's in that it involved a magnet bomb stuck under a car by an assailant in a motorcycle. Fars describes Shahriari as a martyr.

In December, student protests at Britain's embassy in Tehran blamed the U.S., Israel and, to a large extent, Britain, for the scientist's death. According to The Guardian's Saeed Kamali Dehghan, "Iran is right to be suspicious about Britain":

Sir John Sawers, the head of MI6, was once caught on the record endorsing covert actions against Iran. "We need intelligence-led operations to make it more difficult for countries like Iran to develop nuclear weapons," he said in a speech in 2010. The role of the Secret Intelligence Service, he added, "is to find out what these states are doing … and identify ways to slow down their access to vital materials and technology".


Fereydoun Abbasi Davani 
 
Surviving the 2010 attack Shahriari was killed in was Fereydoun Abbasi, the current head of Iran’s atomic organization, according to Fars. 
 
Reuters reported that "Abbasi-Davani and his wife were both wounded" and that Abbasi-Davani "has been personally subject to U.N. sanctions because of what Western officials said was his involvement in suspected nuclear weapons research." He reportedly was getting out of his car with his wife just before the bomb went off. 
 
 

Massoud Ali Mohammadi 

In January 2010, this Iranian university professor and nuclear scientist was killed by a bomb attack in his home, reports Haaretz. "Ali-Mohammadi is said to have publicly backed opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi in the disputed June presidential election, and Iranian pro-reform Web sites prior to the contentious government elections had listed his name among a list of 240 Tehran University teachers who supported the opposition."

According to MSNBC, "He was killed when a bomb-rigged motorcycle exploded near his car as he was about to leave for work." CNN reported that "Majid Jamali Fashi, an Iranian, reportedly confessed to the bombing and was sentenced to death in August, IRNA reported at the time. Prosecutors accused him of being a spy for Israel, the agency said. Israel does not comment on such claims." The following photograph was released by Fars via Reuters. 

 
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.