The killing of top Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh has some in Iran concerned with security gaps and raises questions about the possible infiltration of its security services by adversaries, like the US or Israel.
Fakhrizadeh’s killing was not the first attack on Iran inside its borders this year. In July, a blast inside Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility caused a fire that sent Iran’s centrifuge program back by months. While Israel has not officially taken credit for the Natanz blast, like Fakhrizadeh’s death, Israel’s role was confirmed by multiple sources speaking to the media.
Commander Hossein Dehghan, a former Iranian defense minister, told Iranian state TV that Fakhrizadeh had been killed due to “infiltration into Iran’s security structure.” An anonymous Iranian security official echoed Dehgan’s concerns in comments to Reuters.
“His assassins obviously operated based on detailed intelligence about martyr Fakhrizadeh’s movements,” the official said. “We should know whether there are spies among security people and locate the leak. This is essential for us.”
After Fakhrizadeh’s death, an anonymous Israeli official confirmed Israel’s role to The New York Times. The paper described the source as “a senior Israeli official involved for years in tracking Mr. Fakhrizadeh.”
Having the intelligence to track Fakhrizadeh’s movements would have been essential to carry out the assassination. Scientists involved in Iran’s nuclear program take extreme security precautions due to the history of attacks on them. Between 2007 and 2012, five scientists were assassinated inside Iran, and others survived attempts on their life, attacks also attributed to Israel.