Who killed the Iranian physicist?
A mystery in Tehran: A physicist — one who allegedly dealt in quantum theory and not nuclear physics — was killed by a bomb-rigged motorcycle outside his home. Depending on who you ask, the Americans, the Israelis, the Iranian Mujahedeen, Iranian royalists or an unknown party is behind it. Bombs and assassinations of any type are a rarity in Iran — for a physicist, of all people, to be killed in this manner is extremely strange. So who is responsible?
Masoud Ali Mohammadi, a senior professor at Tehran University who lectured on theoretical physics, was the target of a remotely-detonated bomb hidden in a motorcycle. The attack occured outside his home in the well-off neighborhood of Gheytariye northern Tehran at 10:13am local time. Mohammadi appears to have specialized in quantum physics, which would make him an odd fit for Iran’s nuclear program. But, still, one never knows.
Everyone has their suspects. According to Iranian television, an obscure group seeking the restoration of the Shah claimed responsibility. However, the Iranian government does not seem to be taking the alleged claims of the Royal Association of Iran seriously; they are now claiming that “the Zionist regime, the US and their allies in Iran” are responsible — cue the Mossad and CIA. Israeli intelligence gossip website Debka is calling his death a result of “the covert war against Iran’s nuclear program:”
He was a senior professor at Tehran University which DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources say is an important hub of nuclear weapons research.
Those sources stress that his death was unrelated to the political turbulence sweeping Iran since the June elections; state-run Press TV described him as a “staunch supporter” of Iran’s 1979 revolution.
The targeting of the scientists in the heart of Tehran by a remote-controlled explosion shows that the covert agencies working to sabotage Iran’s controversial nuclear program have managed to plant death squads in the Iranian capital like those operating in Damascus. Shadowy inside elements are therefore threatening the military nuclear projects of both these allies. [...] Iranian authorities see Mohammadi’s death as ramping up the Western effort to recruit, intimidate or liquidate the brains behind Iran’s nuclear progress and a warning. They are already keeping these scientists closely quarantined and forbidden overseas travel, their movements and correspondence closely monitored.
While Iranian television called Mohammadi “a committed and revolutionary Tehran University professor,” he may have been revolutionary in the 2009 sense rather than in the 1979 sense. It turns out Mohammadi signed a pro-opposition petition earlier this year. And, even weirder… Despite the fact that Mohammadi’s publication history deals in quantum physics, Iranian sources indicate that he may have still been part of the nuclear program:
Iranian media reports described Mohammadi as a nuclear energy professor, citing Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, the Tehran prosecutor. “Massoud Ali-Mohammadi was a professor in the nuclear field and there has so far been no arrests of those behind this incident,” the Fars News Agency reported. Al Jazeera’s Alireza Ronaghi, reporting from Tehran, said Mohammadi might have had links to Iran’s disputed nuclear programme. “Authorities who decided to remain unnamed tell me that Mohammadi had some connections with Iran’s nuclear programme and this [the murder] could be related,” he said.
Iranian-Israeli analyst Meir Javedanfar is speculating that the death was indeed American-spurred and that it indicates a growing reliance on intelligence and covert operations for dealing with Iran.
However, strange things have a way of happening to people involved with people in Iran’s nuclear program. Nuclear scientist Ardeshir Hassanpour was killed under mysterious circumstances in January 2007; Iranian General Ali Reza Asgari, involved in the nuclear program, disappeared two months later. Depending on who one asks, he either defected to the United States or was kidnapped to the United States. Then, just this year, Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri disappeared during the Hajj. Again, depending on who one asks, he either defected or was kidnapped.
Regarding Mohammadi, all we know is that only God and someone in Langley knows for sure.