Man pleads guilty to assassinating Iranian nuclear scientist

Iran accused Majid Jamali-Fashi in suspected show trial of 'Israeli sponsored' murder of Masoud Ali-Mohammad

A man accused by Iran of carrying out an assassination "sponsored and designed by Israel" has pleaded guilty to the murder of an Iranian "nuclear scientist".

According to Iranian media, Majid Jamali-Fashi, 26, admitted killing Masoud Ali-Mohammadi, a particle physicist who Iran says was involved in the country's nuclear programme,

Jamali-Fashi confessed to having attached a remote-control bomb to a motorcycle parked on the street, which detonated and killed Ali-Mohammadi while he was leaving home for work in January 2010.

But seasoned observers questioned whether it was a show trial intended to cover-up Iran's embarrassment over its failure to protect its nuclear scientists.

The extent of Ali-Mohammadi's involvement in Iran's nuclear programme is still not clear. At the time of the assassination, some expressed skepticism over claims that he was a nuclear scientist, saying that he had voiced strong support for the opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi in the past.

But it emerged later that Ali-Mohammadi could have been associated with Tehran's nuclear ambitions after his name was seen on a list of an Iranian team at the Sesame Council, a joint-project involving different countries including Israel which runs a particle accelerator in Jordan.

Prosecutors in the case accused Israel and its intelligence agency, Mossad, of being behind "terrorist groups" trained to kill Iranian scientists in order to halt the country'sIran's nuclear programme.

"The defendant had travelled to Israel to receive training from Mossad and had agreed to assassinate Dr Ali-Mohammadi in return for $120,000," the English-language newspaper Tehran Times quoted the city's chief prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, as saying.

According to the semi-official Fars news agency, Jamali-Fashi said he was also assigned to carry out five other "terrorist operations" after the assassination.

Ali-Mohammadi's family asked for death penalty for the accused, according to Fars, but Judge Abol-Ghassem Salavati said sentencing would be issued in due course.

Jamali-Fashi had previously appeared in a TV programme in January in which he confessed to having been hired by Israel and trained at a military base outside Tel Aviv before being dispatched to Iran to kill Ali-Mohammadi.

The programme described him as "the main element" of any Israeli-trained network involved in the assassination. At the time of the broadcast, Iran's intelligence minister, Heydar Moslehi, said Iran had uncovered "a US-backed Israeli operation" and arrested more than 10 people with links to Mossad.

In response to Jamali-Fashi's TV confessions, Israel denied any connection with him.

In recent years, Iran's nuclear programme has experienced a series of setback after the assassinations of its scientists and the Stuxnet computer worm, which was designed to sabotage its atomic facilities and halt its uranium-enrichment programme. The malware is believed to have targeted a control system used in Iran's nuclear sites in July last year.

In November, Majid Shahriari, a nuclear scientist, was killed and Fereidoon Abbasi Davani, Iran's current atomic chief, survived assassination in two similar attacks to the one which Ali-Mohammadi died.

In July, an Iranian academic, Darioush Rezaeinejad was shot dead by gunmen riding on motorcycles. He was initially described by state media as a nuclear scientist but officials later denied he was involved in Iran's atomic programme. Rumours spread that at the time that the 35-year-old masters student might have been mistakenly killed instead of a nuclear scientist with a similar name, Darioush Rezaei.


Saeed Kamali Dehghan

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Spies around the table: covert waltz at Iranian nuclear talks
Stakes are high as world leaders meet with a critical deadline looming, and covert surveillance activity is dense – but Lausanne is less of a hotspot than Vienna

Julian Borger diplomatic editor

24, Mar, 2015 @4:43 PM

Article image
Iranian nuclear chemist killed by motorbike assassins
Tensions escalate with US and Israel as Tehran accuses the Mossad in fifth murder of scientists

Saeed Kamali Dehghan and Julian Borger

11, Jan, 2012 @9:36 PM

Article image
Israel primed to attack a nuclear Iran
US embassy cables show security service has told Washington 'all options' are on table if Iranian bomb looks inevitable

Ian Black, Middle East editor

28, Nov, 2010 @6:20 PM

Article image
Iran says missile base blast was not caused by Israeli intelligence
Tehran dismisses reports that Mossad or US was behind the explosion that killed the architect of country's missile programme

Saeed Kamali Dehghan

16, Nov, 2011 @7:48 PM

Article image
Mitt Romney declares unity with Israel over Iranian nuclear threat

Presumptive Republican candidate says US must use 'any and all measures' to prevent Tehran developing nuclear weapons

Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem

29, Jul, 2012 @6:29 PM

Article image
Where does the Iranian nuclear deal leave Binyamin Netanyahu?
The Israeli prime minister has made it his life's mission to protect the Jewish state from Iranian threats, but now looks sidelined

Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem

28, Nov, 2013 @2:50 PM

Article image
Iranian nuclear scientist 'tortured on suspicion of revealing state secrets'
Shahram Amiri, who claimed he was abducted by CIA, has not been seen since return from US last year

Julian Borger and Saeed Kamali Dehghan

04, Jan, 2011 @5:26 PM

Article image
Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh given martyr status
Tehran holds state funeral for Fakhrizadeh, who it says was killed remotely using ‘electronic devices’

Patrick Wintour and Oliver Holmes

30, Nov, 2020 @11:04 AM

Article image
Iranian missile architect dies in blast. But was explosion a Mossad mission?

Tehran says blast that killed 17 and rattled windows 30 miles away was an accident

Julian Borger and Saeed Kamali Dehghan

14, Nov, 2011 @9:14 PM

Article image
Iranian nuclear chief's body prepared for burial as anger focuses on Israel and US
Newspaper publishes comment urging retaliation with strike on Haifa that ‘causes heavy human casualties’

Oliver Holmes and Patrick Wintour

29, Nov, 2020 @3:52 PM