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New Information On Iran Assassination Adds Mystery To The Case

New bits of information surfacing about the Iranian Deputy Defense Minister Mohsen Fakhrizadeh who was assassinated on Friday November 26, have added an aura of mystery to the case.

While the Chairman of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Behrouz Kamalvandi insists that Fakhrizadeh was not a nuclear scientist, a video posted on an IRGC-linked Telegram channel shows former Nuclear chief Feraydoun Abbassi insisting he was a nuclear scientist.

Other reports questioned Fakhrizadeh's academic credentials alleging that he was not a PhD holder as believed, but had an MS degree in physics. These reports said that at his workplaces, Fakhrizadeh was known as Dr. Hassan Mohseni.

A Telegram channel associated with the Basij militia says the remarks by Kamalvandi and some other reports are aimed at portraying Fakhrizadeh as an insignificant figure in a bid to play down the incident and ensure that there is no hindrance to talks the government of President Hassan Rouhani hopes to hold with the next US government to save the 2015 nuclear deal.

Abbasi said in the video: "They tell me not to say that Fakhrizadeh was a nuclear figure. Is that right? Shall I listen to that? Shall I deny the truth? That is because these gentlemen do not want to say that he was a nuclear scientist. So, what was he doing? Shall I say he was playing football when he was assassinated? People should know the truth. He was a prominent scientist who has been assassinated."

In yet another video that was aired on Channel 5 of the Iranian state television on Saturday, Abbasi offered some details about the scene of the assassination. He said the assassins had planted bombs in a van on the roadside and detonated the bomb at one point during the assassination to force Fakhrizadeh's motorcade to stop. The assassins may have planned initially to detonate the bomb when Fakhrizadeh's car was passing by, but he pulled over before reaching the van, Abbasi added.

"Fakhrizadeh came out of the car after the terrorists started to shoot. Perhaps he did that in order to save his wife who was sitting in the car," said Abbasi, adding that the assassins then shot Fakhrizadeh in the shoulder and at the same time, one of his bodyguards came out of another car and threw himself on Fakhrizadeh. However, they killed the bodyguard and started shooting at Fakhrizadeh once again.

In another development, Javad Mogouei, a documentary filmmaker close to the IRGC tried to shed light on the assassination on his Instagram page while strongly criticizing Iran's Ministry of Intelligence for not protecting the deputy defense minister. He also pointed fingers at "infiltrators" at the Intelligence Ministry as those who facilitated the assassination. Others have said the job of protecting senior defense officials is handled by the IRGC, not the Intelligence Ministry.

Mogouei provided more details about the incident in another post on Instagram and asked: "Why there was a power cut when those who were shot were taken to a local hospital?"

He also asked how a potentially large team of assassins could operate in the vicinity of the Iranian capital without the intelligence organizations knowing about them?" Referring to previous assassinations related to Iran's nuclear program, Mogouei then said that there was a large hole in Iran's intelligence system. At the end, he suggested that intelligence officials should look back and purge the system of infiltrators.

In total contradiction to these accounts, Fars news agency Sunday published a report offering details of the assassination that came close to being a Hollywood action thriller. It said no assassins were on the scene and an remotely controlled automatic weapons fired at the convoy.

While many state officials and social media activists have blamed the incident on a major failure by Iran's intelligence organizations, an adviser to the Iranian Supreme Leader, Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan told the state television that Fakhrizadeh had enough security protection.

Iran International analyst Morad Veisi noted that purging the system could be a pretext that usually political factions use to kick out their rivals and settle scores. He also noted that purging operations usually do not lead to identifying the infiltrators in the system.

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