At the gallows, the condemned prisoner repeated the allegations Iran lodged against him: That he was trained by Israel’s spy agency to carry out one of the first attack on Iranian scientists in a suspected shadow war against Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
“The end of the road has nothing except repentance — and rope,” Majid Jamali Fashi was quoted as saying just moments before he was hanged for the January 2010 bombing that killed Tehran University physics professor Masoud Ali Mohammadi.
Tuesday’s execution inside Tehran’s Evin Prison — and Iran’s state-sanctioned coverage of his purported last words — are connected to a world of alleged covert operations and assassination plots that have stretched from the Black Sea to Bangkok, and yet have somehow not disrupted efforts at nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, which are expected to resume next week in Baghdad.
At least four other members of Iran’s scientific community have been killed since the explosion of a bomb-rigged motorcycle that targeted Mohammadi. Iran has blamed Israel’s Mossad spy agency, as well as the CIA and Britain’s MI-6. Washington and London have previously denied any roles.
In Jerusalem, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said on Tuesday the slayings “are not connected to us in any way.”
Israel and others have accused Iran of alleged reprisal missions, including a February bombing in New Delhi that wounded an Israeli diplomat’s wife and the discovery of a cache of explosives in Bangkok that Thai officials claim was linked a plot to target Israeli diplomats. In Azerbaijan’s capital of Baku, security officials in March announced the arrest of 22 suspects allegedly hired by Iran for terrorist attacks against the US and Israeli embassies and other Western-linked sites.
The intrigue, however, has remained on the margins as the US and allies try to press ahead with negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. A first round last month in Istanbul produced no breakthroughs, but discussions are expected to intensify at the next session beginning on Wednesday next week between Iran and a six-nation group comprising the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany.
Possible bargaining could center on efforts to halt Iran’s enrichment of uranium at 20 percent levels, the highest-grade material announced by Tehran. Iran, in turn, has signaled it could urge the US and Europe to ease some of the most painful new sanctions, including those hitting Iran’s oil exports and its access to international banking networks.
In Vienna, meanwhile, Iran and the UN’s nuclear agency held a second day of talks over suspicions that Tehran might have tested atomic arms technology at a military site. Iran denies the claims, insisting it only seeks nuclear reactors for energy and medical research.
The morning of Jan. 12, 2010, signaled a potential shift in Iran’s nuclear standoff with the West. Mohammadi was leaving for work when a bomb-laden motorcycle was blown apart by apparent remote control, killing the 50-year-old researcher whose work on subatomic particles had no direct military applications.
The suspect, Fashi, was put on trial in August last year in proceedings that received full state media attention. Iranian TV broadcast what it said were his confessions in which he admitted that he was recruited by the Mossad and went to Israel for training as a paid assassin.