Reuters makes a good point that Iran is having difficulty getting the international community to condemn the terrorist attacks against its scientists, which over time have left four of them dead in bombings.
Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan Behdast, a professor at Tehran’s technical university, was killed yesterday. Behdast was aged 32 and had been a chemistry major at the Oil Industry University. He then became deputy director of commerce at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility near Isfahan. Thus, some of these scientists were clearly connected to Iran’s civilian nuclear energy establishment. At least one was just a theoretical physicist whose work had no bearing on the practical side of nuclear engineering.
On January 11, 2010, another Iranian university nuclear scientist, Mas’ud Ali Mohammadi was assassinated by a similar bombing.
If four US nuclear scientists were (God forbid) blown up at Las Alamos one after another, I think we all know that there would be hell to pay.
The UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions (i.e. illegal assassinations) told Reuters that the attacks on nuclear scientists were indeed worrying, extrajudicial, and executions.
But Christof Heyns, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, said in a statement to Reuters the Wednesday assassination seemed to reflect a “worrying trend of extrajudicial executions of nuclear scientists in Iran.” But he put the onus on Iranian authorities to solve the murder mystery.
Iran wants the UN General Assembly to condemn the bombings. The UNGA unanimously condemned Iran for an alleged plot to blow up the Saudi ambassador in Washington, though the evidence for that scheme was extremely weak. As Reuters points out, diplomats are particularly upset by assassination plots against . . . diplomats.
Readers have been asking me who I thought was behind the attacks. Well, it is a murder mystery, so we should look at the classical trinity: means, motive and opportunity.
The means in yesterday’s attack on was a sticky bomb, i.e. one placed on Behdast’s car by magnets by a motorcyclist.
The motive was to damage Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.
The opportunity belonged to someone who could be in Iran, could monitor Behdast’s movements without suspicion, and who could drive a motorcycle around the Iranian capital (and therefore someone whose papers were in order in case the police or other security forces stopped him).
The countries most eager to stop the Iranian program are Israel, the United States and Saudi Arabia. So they are the ones with motive.
The means, a sticky bomb, is commonly used by radical militias in Iraq.
The opportunity belonged to an Iranian who could move freely and had his papers in order. Of course, such a person could be recruited as an agent by almost any espionage organization. An MEK double agent inside the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps would be useful.
If you put this all together, you can come to a speculation. The circumstantial evidence would point to a member of the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK or People’s Jihadis) terrorist organization. The MEK is known to have been involved in espionage on the Iranian nuclear program, and it wants to overthrow the current government in favor of a Marxist-Islamic regime, working with Israeli intelligence. Mossad does targeted assassinations, as in Dubai. The MEK has a history of pulling off bombings in Iran. One, in 1981, killed over 80 members of the revolution’s political elite, including the prime minister. The MEK is based in part in Iraq and so could acquire sticky bombs easily. It is known to have an operational alliance with Israeli and American intelligence. And that this bombing occurred on an anniversary of a previous one also suggests a terrorist group for which the date is symbolic.
I underline that this conclusion is circumstantial and purely the result of an intellectual exercise, i.e., of speculation. I’m not making an accusation and have no proof of this conclusion. But it is more likely the solution to the mystery than that Thai ninjas or Argentine gauchos did the deed.
Journalist Richard Silverstein says he has a reliable Israeli source who affirms that the bombings are a joint production of Mossad and the MEK. But since his source in anonymous, it is hard for others to judge the solidness of this source.
Anyway, the scientists so far killed have not been proven in a court of law to have done anything wrong at all, and so they have been murdered in cold blood for political purposes, which is the definition of terrorism. Western leaders who accuse Iran of being the world’s major purveyor of terrorism (a stupid allegation) would have to, if they were honest and consistent, speak out against these grisly murders in Iran (which also killed innocent bystanders).
Jim Lobe cannily argues that the assassins were trying to scuttle further negotiations between Iran and the UN Security Council members plus Germany, which we know from Wikileaks are favored by President Ahmadinejad. Strengthening Tehran’s hard liners and even provoking Iran to do something rash would benefit those who want a US-Iran war. Lobe does not say so,but that would be the Netanyahu government in Israel, the US Israel lobbies, and the MEK.