The Iranian nuclear expert assassinated in Tehran on Monday was the top scientist of Iran`s nuclear effort. Majid Shahriari was killed when an explosive charge placed in his car was detonated by remote control after he climbed into the vehicle, according to Western intellgence expert with knowledge of the operation.
The assassination carried the signature of Israel's Mossad, which has carried out similar operations on foreign soil over the decades. Typically, a team of agents reconnoiters the target and his routines over a period of months, assessing vulnerabilities and opportunities to escape afterward. Most of the operatives are usually on their way out of the country by the time the charge is detonated by a member who sees the target enter the booby-trapped car. ""It's like a suit,"" says the intelligence expert. ""An assassination must be custom-made.""
Like other senior nuclear scientists, Shahriari had been assigned bodyguards, according to Parviz Davoodi, head of Shahid Beheshti University, where Shahriari lectured on physics and held a position on the faculty of the department of nuclear engineering. Speaking to the Iranian press, the university president, who earlier served as Vice President under Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, noted that security must be improved.
Ahmadinejad blamed the attacks on the U.S. and Israel, referring to the latter as ""the Zionist entity."" In Israel the news media made the same assumption, offering asides about the attacks in news stories announcing the appointment of a new head of Mossad. The daily Israel Hayom observed that Mossad's director, Meir Dagan, ""will be leaving an organization that is far sharper and more operational than the organization he received, and all of the accusations from Tehran yesterday are a good indication of that. Iran will be the focal point for the next Mossad director too.""
Among Dagan's known triumphs is the 2008 assassination of Imad Mughniyeh, the senior Hizbollah official. Mughniyeh perished in Damascus from the detonation of explosives hidden in the driver's headrest of his car.
(Source: TIME magazine)