Iran bomb new.
(photo credit: AP)
TEHERAN — Iran's intelligence services said Monday they have arrested
suspects in the assassination a year ago of a nuclear physicist in a
months-long covert operation that also led them to penetrate Israel's
Mossad spy agency.
Iran blames the Mossad for the slaying of Tehran University physics
professor Masoud Ali Mohammadi, who was killed by a bomb-rigged
motorcycle that exploded outside his house as he was leaving for work in
January 2010. Possible explanations for why he was targeted have never
been clear, particularly as he had no known link to Iran's nuclear work,
but Iranian state media have presented it as an attempt to slow the
Iran media blames Israel, US for killing nuclear physicist
Iranian state TV: Israel killed nuclear scientist
Monday's announcement said Iranian agents arrested a network of spies
linked to the slaying, opening up revelations about further Israeli
plots against the country, including a campaign to assassinate nuclear
"After months of silent struggle, offensive, multilayered and
complicated operations and penetration into the depths of the Zionist
regime's intelligence led to the uncovering of very important and
sensitive information about Mossad spies and operations," said the
Intelligence Ministry statement read out on Iranian state TV. "Heavy
blows were inflicted on the structure of the Zionist intelligence and
Later Monday, Iran's state TV broadcast confessions of one of those
arrested in which the unidentified young man said he underwent training
in Israel on how to place bombs on cars.
The man, whose face was visible, said he received training at a military camp located between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
"Two new Iranian-made motorbikes were there ... they told me where to
go, where to stop, who to call and how to do things back in Iran," he
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office had no immediate comment on Monday's announcement.
A pair of bomb attacks in November killed one nuclear scientist and
wounded another in the capital. While those attacks targeted two people
who had high-level involvement in Iran's nuclear work, a motive behind
the slaying of Mohammadi is less clear.
The 50-year-old professor had no prominent political voice, no published
work with military relevance and no declared links to the country's
nuclear program, though his work included some aspects of nuclear
Nonetheless, the Intelligence Ministry said in Monday's statement that
the investigation into his death led authorities back to the Mossad and
to the conclusion that Israeli spies operating from Europe and from
countries neighboring Iran were directing a campaign to kill Iranian
nuclear scientists. It offered no details.
"After extensive security measures and precise intelligence tracking ...
the main agents behind this terrorist crime were identified and
arrested, and a network comprising spies and terrorists affiliated to
the Zionist regime was destroyed," it said.
Besides November's bomb attacks, the country's nuclear work faced a
number of challenges over the past year, from malfunctioning centrifuges
that spun out of control to a highly complex computer worm — known as
Stuxnet — that Iran said was aimed at sabotaging its uranium enrichment
A week ago, newly retired spy chief, Meir Dagan, said Iran would not be
able to build a nuclear bomb before 2015 — further pushing back Israeli
intelligence estimates of when Tehran might become a nuclear power.
The former Mossad chief said Thursday that Iran's nuclear program had
been delayed by unspecified "measures" employed against it, according to
In November's attacks, which took place on the same day, assailants on
motorcycles attached magnetized bombs to the two men's cars as they
drove to work.
They detonated seconds later, killing one of them, Majid Shahriar, and
wounding the other, Fereidoun Abbasi. Each of their wives, who were in
the cars, were also wounded.
Abbasi is on a list of figures suspected of links to secret nuclear
activities in a 2007 UN sanctions resolution, which puts a travel ban
and asset freeze on those listed. The resolution describes him as a
Defense Ministry scientist who works closely with Mohsen Fakhrizadeh,
believed to head secret nuclear projects. Iranian media said he was a
member of the Revolutionary Guard, Iran's strongest military force.
Abbasi, according to pro-government news websites, is also a laser
expert and one of the few top Iranian specialists in nuclear isotope
Shahriar was involved in a major project with Iran's nuclear agency, the
agency's chief said at the time of the killing, though he did not give
Iran's intelligence agency has already announced a number of arrests in the November bombings.
In 2007, nuclear scientist Ardeshir Hosseinpour died from gas poisoning.
A one-week delay by state media in reporting his death prompted
speculation about the cause, including that the Mossad was to blame.