Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was not well known to the public in the West, but he was well known to Israel. Fakhrizadeh was considered “the father” of the Iranian military nuclear program.

Al-Arabiyah reported in 2018:

Dr Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a brigadier general in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), and a professor of physics at the Guard’s Imam Hussein University, is a man cloaked in mystery.

Until April this year, no photograph has ever existed of him, and on top of this, after the killing of several nuclear scientists, a protective shield of secrecy and security had been thrown around him, in an effort to protect him against Israeli assassins.

Then in another twist to his shadowy existence, the Iranian authorities have denied numerous requests from the Atomic Energy Agency to interview him. But one thing is known for certain, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh will be the father of the Iranian regime’s nuclear bomb once complete.

This 2012 Wall Street Journal profile adds details as to Fakhrizadeh’s importance to Iran’s quest for a nuclear bomb:

The Iranian scientist considered Tehran’s atomic-weapons guru until he was apparently sidelined several years ago is back at work, according to United Nations investigators and U.S. and Israeli officials, sparking fresh concerns about the status of Iran’s nuclear program.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, widely compared with Robert Oppenheimer, the American physicist who oversaw the crash 1940s effort to build an atomic bomb, helped push Iran into its nuclear age over the past two decades. A senior officer in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, he oversaw Iran’s research into the construction and detonation of a nuclear warhead, Western officials say.

Fakhrizadeh was highlighted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a famous presentation after the Israeli Mossad made off with a treasure trove of Iraninan nuclear files in 2018. We covered the story at the time, Netanyahu Reveals Newly Discovered and Damning Intel on Iran Nuclear Program.

Here’s Netanyahu’s presentation (jump to 10:45)

NBC News’ Tehran correspondent highlighted that Fakhrizadeh was “widely referred to as Iran’s Robert Oppenheimer.”

Israeli journalist Yossi Melman, who has long reported on Israei intelligence matters, reports that Fakhrizadeh was on the Mossad’s hit list:

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh has been assassinated in Damavand, east of Tehran according to reports in Iran. He was head of Iran’s secret military program and wanted for many years by Mossad. His death is a major psychological and professional blow for Iran.

Based on early reports, his car was “stopped by explosive and then he was killed by shooting.”

The Times of Israel reports that the assassination was announced on Iranian television:

The alleged head of Iran’s nuclear weapons program was assassinated Friday near the capital Tehran, according to Iranian state television and other Iranian media.

State TV cited sources confirming the death of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. It said it would offer more information shortly.

The Iranian Mehr News Agency reports that he was sent to the hospital:

According to initial reports, Iranian physicist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahavadi, was attacked during an armed clash between his bodyguards and unknown assailants in Damavand County, Tehran province, on Friday.

Available reports suggest the Fakhrizadeh has been sent to the hospital immediately after the incident.

Further details about the Iranian professor’s condition will be published later.

There seems to be a conflict in Iranian media as to whether he is alive or dead:

This video purports to show the scene (not verified):

This tweet by the Commander-in-Chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seems to confirm the assassination, though Fakhrizadeh is not mentioned by name:

https://twitter.com/shashj/status/1332323478436007941

We will continue to expand and update this news.

UPDATES:

The Iranian Fars News Agency has confirmed the death:

https://twitter.com/FarsNews_Agency/status/1332336263635095554

Iranian Press TV also is confirming the death:

https://twitter.com/PressTV/status/1332340848449581057

Who did it? Yossi Melman tweets:

He was wanted by Mossad and a few years escaped an assassination attempt.

The NY Times, in an article co-authored by Ronen Bergman, who has written extensively about Israeli assassination efforts, reports:

A shadowy figure, Mr. Fakhrizadeh had long been the No. 1 target of the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service, which is widely believed to be behind a series of assassinations more than eight years ago that included some of Mr. Fakhrizadeh’s deputies.

The NY Times has added this to its live coverage:

One American official — along with two other intelligence officials — said that Israel was behind the attack on the scientist. It was unclear how much the United States may have known about the operation in advance, but the two nations are the closest of allies and have long shared intelligence regarding Iran. The White House and the C.I.A. declined to comment.

The Iranian Foreign Minister is blaming Israel:

https://twitter.com/JZarif/status/1332345633425022976

 

 
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