News Brief – December 16, 2010
Iran has threatened retaliation following recent attacks against two of its scientists that left one dead and another injured.
Iran accused America, Britain and Israel of being involved in the two separate attacks, after assailants on motorcycles attached magnetic bombs to the scientist’s cars as they travelled inside.
The West claims both scientists were involved in Iran’s as yet unproven drive to develop “nuclear weapons”.
Majis Shahriari, a quantum physicist involved in Iran’s nuclear project, was apparently working on the Stuxnet virus at Iranian nuclear plants. He died in the attack. The wounded scientist, Fereidoun Abbasi, a senior Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics scientist, was allegedly involved in secret nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
The attacks came after the head of Britain’s MI6 urged an “intelligence led” approach to stop Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. His statement has further fuelled Iranian suspicions of Western involvement in the attacks.
In response Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naghdi, the Commander of Iran’s Basij forces has issued the harshest warning over the attacks yet.
The official website of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps quotes the brigadier general as saying the scientist’s death would not go unpunished.
According to the Commander of the Basij forces, “We will mark the hanging sites of the American and Zionist generals and we will identify which hanging was in retaliation for the blood of our great martyr Shahriari”.
Observers have cautioned that these could be more than empty threats. In fact Iran has a history of carrying out its threats.
On January 11, 2007, US forces raided and detained five employees of the Iranian liaison office in Irbil, Iraq, claiming they were members of Iran’s Quds force. Nine days later five U.S. soldiers were abducted and killed in a sophisticated attack by men wearing U.S.-style uniforms, according to U.S. military reports.
Thereafter the Revolutionary Guards sent a clear message in Iran calling the abduction and murder the “five for five.”
Likewise in October 2009, an attack killed six Revolutionary Guards commanders and 37 others in Sistan-Baluchistan province, Iran. The Guards blamed the U.S. and Britain for the suicide bombing and promised a swift and forceful response.
A week later two suicide car bombs exploded in Baghdad’s Green zone killing 55 people and injuring at least 721people, making it the deadliest attack in Iraq since August of 2007.
Consequently, observers have warned that U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan could be particularly vulnerable in the coming weeks.