The Scientist and the A.I.-Assisted, Remote-Control Killing Machine

Israeli agents had wanted to kill Iran’s top nuclear scientist for years. Then they came up with a way to do it with no operatives present.

He was nowhere near Absard, however. He was peering into a computer screen at an undisclosed location more than 1,000 miles away. The entire hit squad had already left Iran.

Iran Rattled as Israel Repeatedly Strikes Key Targets

Recent attacks suggest that Israel has a clandestine network inside Iran and that Iranian security services have been powerless to break it.

In less than nine months, an assassin on a motorbike fatally shot an Al Qaeda commander given refuge in Tehran, Iran’s chief nuclear scientist was machine-gunned on a country road, and two separate, mysterious explosions rocked a key Iranian nuclear facility in the desert, striking the heart of the country’s efforts to enrich uranium.

They Thought, Why Not Iran? The Decision Upended Their Lives.

An Iranian-American couple’s relocation to Iran after their daughters went off to college in the United States was a mistake paid for in accusations of spying, murky prosecution and prison.

That decision upended their lives. Mr. Shargi is the latest dual American citizen arrested in Iran. He was sentenced on Nov. 30 to 10 years in prison on murky charges of national security violations, after a trial that he not only did not attend but had no idea had been taking place.

Why the Assassination of a Scientist Will Have No Impact on Iran’s Nuclear Program

Since Friday’s killing, the question increasingly being asked in Washington and the Middle East is about motive.

On Friday, the Muslim holy day, he was reportedly travelling with his wife, in a black Nissan sedan, from Tehran to visit his in-laws in Absard, a town famed for its apple and cherry orchards, about forty-five miles away. Highways around the capital are notoriously clogged, but travel restrictions imposed during the covid-19 crisis have meant far less traffic. As Fakhrizadeh’s car neared a roundabout, a blue pickup truck parked near an electricity transmitter opened fire on the car and then exploded, cutting off local power, including to a nearby clinic; roadside cameras were disabled. One account claimed that a dozen gunmen—one group jumped out of a parked S.U.V. and another arrived on motorcycles, while snipers were hidden nearby—opened fire. A separate account, by Fars, the nation’s semi-official news agency, reported that all the fire came from the pickup truck, which was remote-controlled. Fars claimed that there were no human assailants at the scene; the whole operation took three minutes, the agency said. Both accounts said that Fakhrizadeh, hit multiple times, fell out of his car and bled out on the ground. The Iranian media released photos of the bullet-riddled car and the blood stream. By the time a rescue helicopter got Fakhrizadeh to Tehran, he was dead.

Opinion | Dear Joe, It’s Not About Iran’s Nukes Anymore

Biden wants to reinstate the nuclear deal, but first he must confront the new Middle East.

In effect, Trump forced Israel and the key Sunni Arab states to become less reliant on the United States and to think about how they must cooperate among themselves over new threats — like Iran — rather than fighting over old causes — like Palestine. This may enable America to secure its interests in the region with much less blood and treasure of its own. It could be Trump’s most significant foreign policy achievement.