January 11, 2012
Leaning out a hand, the motorcyclist attaches a magnetic explosive device – sometimes called a “sticky bomb” — to the door nearest the man he is trying to kill and then speeds off. Seconds later, the bomb is detonated by remote-control. It is so sophisticated that only the target is killed. Those sitting next to him, or in front or behind him, escape with just cuts and bruises.
Wednesday’s target was Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, killed in his vehicle in front of a university campus in east Tehran. A chemist by training, he was a deputy director at Iran’s main uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, a role given to him because of his expertise in gas separation technology, a technique vital to the enrichment process.
He was the fifth Iranian nuclear scientist to be targeted in the past two years and the fourth to die. The only survivor was the biggest prize of all. In November 2010, Fereydoun Abbasi, now the head of Iran’s atomic energy organisation was well trained enough to recognise what the clicking sound on the door of his car meant. He and his wife leapt clear just in time. That same day, on the other side of the Iranian capital, Majid Shahriari, one of Mr Abbasi’s colleagues, was less fortunate as he fell victim to another motorcycle assassin.
Iranian officials were quick to apportion blame on Wednesday for the latest attack, directing angry accusations at both the Israeli intelligence service Mossad and at the Americans.