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A Remotely Controlled Assassination

Almost a year after the assassination of Chief of Iran’s Nuclear Programme Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi (1958 – November 27, 2020), The Indian Express daily has explained the events that triggered his death.

Fakhrizadeh attended Shahid Beheshti University and later received his PhD from the University of Isfahan. In 1991, he became a Professor of Physics at Imam Hossein University. Even before starting his career as a professor, he joined the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (after the Islamic Revolution of 1979). Because of his affiliation with the Iranian Nuclear Programme, both the UN Security Council and the US freeze his assets in the mid-2000s. In the early 2010s, he founded and led the Organisation of Defensive Innovation and Research that conducts research on nuclear weapons. Fakhrizadeh also led the Green Salt Project. Because of his connection to Iran’s alleged Nuclear Weapons Programme, the Israeli Government, with the help of US inputs, assassinated Professor Fakhrizadeh in a road ambush in Absard on November 27, 2020 with an innovative autonomous satellite-operated gun.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh

The assassination of Fakhrizadeh had Iran shell-shocked, as the concerned authorities in Tehran had no clue how he was killed. Immediately after Fakhrizadeh’s assassination on November 27, 2020, the media reported that the scientist was killed in the midst of a gunfight between his bodyguards. Later, various news agencies claimed that he was shot multiple times by a remote-controlled machine gun mounted on a truck that was being operated by an individual. It was also reported that the person had fled Iran shortly after the killing. Fakhrizadeh’s assassination triggered fresh tension in the region, with the Iranian Legislature passing a Bill to block inspections of its Nuclear Programme. The Government of Iran claimed that Fakhrizadeh helped develop COVID-19 testing kits for use during the Pandemic.

On September 22, 2021, The Indian Express reported that the National Intelligence Agency of Israel – Mossad – carried out the operation from 1,000 miles away, using an Artificial Intelligence-assisted machine gun attached to a robotic apparatus fixed onto a Nissan Zamyad pickup truck, with cameras and explosives to blow up after the murder of Fakhrizadeh. While driving with his wife to their vacation villa through Absard, outside Tehran, the Father of Iranian Nuclear Weapons Programme was assassinated by the machine gun, remote-controlled by the Israeli Secret Service Agency.

A 7.62mm Belgian-made FN MAG machine gun, fixed to a killer-robot, fired 15 bullets at the Nuclear Scientist. Interestingly, the robot was operated from a computer more than 1,000 miles away. However, a facial-recognition software left his wife, Sediqeh Qasemi, unharmed. She was sitting next to her husband inside the car.

The assassination of Fakhrizadeh was, in a way, a debut test of a hi-tech, computerised sharpshooter with Artificial Intelligence and multi-camera eyes, operated via satellite and can fire 600 rounds a minute. They survey, identify and attack the target based on an algorithm. Unlike a drone, robotic machine-gun draws no attention in the sky, and can be situated anywhere.

Quoting The New York Times and other agencies, the Indian daily has also reported that part of Mossad Director Yosef ‘Yossi’ Meir Cohen’s POA, the preparation for the assassination began in end-2019. Israel wanted to act while Donald Trump was still the US President, since his likely successor Joe Biden seemed set to return to the 2015 Nuclear Agreement abrogated by President Trump.

Fakhrizadeh’s car

Meanwhile, the usage of autonomous weapons systems, a force multiplier, comes with ethical and moral challenges. They can be misled, as a turtle was identified as a rifle during an experiment in the US. Cheaper to build or mass produce, the autonomous weapons systems are vulnerable to hacking and detrimental in the wrong hands. However, the defence experts are of the opinion that various State and Non-State actors would love to use autonomous weapons systems to target their enemies.

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