The weapon used in the assassination was placed on a van and remotely operated via a video camera, an official said.
The murder of Iran’s top nuclear scientist last month was carried out remotely with artificial intelligence and a machine gun equipped with a “satellite-controlled intelligent system,” a senior commander said.
Iran blamed Israel for the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was seen by Western intelligence services as the mastermind of a secret Iranian program to develop a nuclear capability. Tehran has long denied such ambition.
“No terrorists were present on the ground … Martyr Fakhrizadeh was driving when a weapon using an advanced camera zoomed in on him,” Tasnim, a semi-official news agency, said, citing Ali Fadavi, deputy commander of the Guard Corps. of the Islamic Revolution (IRGC), as during a ceremony on Sunday.
“The machine gun was placed on a pickup truck and controlled by a satellite.”
Israel has neither confirmed nor denied any involvement in the killing, and one of its officials suggested that the Tasnim report on the method used was a rescue measure for Iran.
In the past, however, Israel has admitted to pursuing clandestine intelligence-gathering operations against the nuclear program of its nemesis Iran.
The Islamic Republic has given conflicting details about Fakhrizadeh’s death in a November 27 daytime ambush against his car on a highway near Tehran.
Speaking from Tehran, Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari said: “The sequence of events reported by Commander Fadavi shows that there were no actual natural persons who carried out any component of this attack.”
“The details we’re hearing is that there was a shooting and then a big explosion, all of which was done by remote control,” Jabbari said.
Analysts said Fakhrizadeh’s assassination revealed security gaps, suggesting the Islamic Republic was vulnerable to further attacks.
“Some 13 shots were fired at the martyr Fakhrizadeh with a satellite controlled machine gun … During the operation, artificial intelligence and facial recognition were used,” Fadavi said. “His wife, seated 25 centimeters [10 inches] away from him in the same car, was not injured.
Fadavi spoke after Iranian authorities said they had found “clues about the killers”, although they have yet to announce any arrests. Shortly after Fakhrizadeh’s death, witnesses told state television that a truck exploded before a group of gunmen opened fire on his car.
Last week Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said the murder was carried out with “electronic devices” with no one on the ground.
Yoav Galant, an Israeli security cabinet minister, said he was “unaware” of the existence of the remote-controlled targeting technologies described in the Iranian accounts.
“What I see is a lot of embarrassment on the Iranian side,” Galant, a former naval commando and deputy head of the IDF, told Army Radio. “It would seem that those who were responsible for his [Fakhrizadeh’s] security is now finding reasons for not having fulfilled this mission. “
Fakhrizadeh, identified by Israel as a leading player in what he says is an ongoing Iranian quest for a nuclear weapon, was the fifth Iranian nuclear scientist killed in targeted attacks since 2010 inside Iran, and the second murder of a senior Iranian official in 2020.
The Commander of the IRGC’s elite Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad in January. Tehran retaliated by firing missiles at US military targets in Iraq.