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The Race for Iran

Flynt Leverett on World Focus Discusses the Assassination of Masoud Ali Mohammadi

New America Foundation/Iran Initiative Director and Race for Iran Publisher Flynt Leverett appeared on World Focus last night to discuss the assassination of Masoud Ali Mohammadi, an Iranian nuclear physics professor.

Leverett began by saying that it is highly unlikely that the United States was directly involved in the assassination.

He noted, however, that the United States has conducted a series of covert activities as part of a $400 million program that began during the George W. Bush administration – and that it is possible that an individual or group that has received U.S. funding as part of this program could be responsible for the assassination.

Leverett also discussed several U.S. policies aimed at slowing Iran’s nuclear program, including international export controls and the Proliferation Security Initiative – a program to interdict shipments of various materials to Iran. He also noted evidence that the United States has sought to have faulty nuclear equipment sent to Iran.

Leverett emphasized that these efforts are unlikely to fundamentally disturb a dedicated nuclear program and will not generate strategic leverage in negotiations with the Islamic Republic.

You can watch the four minute interview with Daljit Dhaliwal above and here.


54 Responses to “Flynt Leverett on World Focus Discusses the Assassination of Masoud Ali Mohammadi”

  1. Jibrail says:

    Here is a little piece of evidence. Refute it if you can.


  2. A Scientist says:

    The best evidence, that the murdered Professor is not an eminent member of the green movement (you should know, many of the pragmatic conservatives have dissociated from the green movement, which initially had had only members who are loyal to Islamic Republic) that there were no single green demonstrations during his funeral. Sometimes reasoning is so easy, but hard to reach in the face of huge ignorance about Iranian policy).


  3. Jon Harrison says:

    The scientist’s death looks like a Mossad hit. If this had been done by Iranians, the modus operandi would’ve been different. I don’t believe there was U.S. involvement, but it sure looks like an Israeli operation.

  4. Dan cooper says:

    You do not have to be a genius to work out who assassinated Professor Masoud Ali-Mohammadi.

    Israel has launched a covert war against Iran as an alternative to direct military strikes against Tehran’s nuclear programme, US intelligence sources have revealed.

    It is using hitmen, sabotage, front companies and double agents to disrupt the regime’s illicit weapons project, the experts say.

    The most dramatic element of the “decapitation” programme is the planned assassination of top figures involved in Iran’s atomic operations.

    The aim is to slow down or interrupt Iran’s research programme, without the gamble of a direct confrontation that could lead to a wider war.

    Please read this article FROM TELEGRAPH.CO.UK
    By Philip Sherwell in New York
    Published: 7:33PM GMT 16 Feb 2009

    As you can see this article was published well before Professor Masoud Ali-Mohammadi’s assasination.

  5. Dan cooper says:

    Paneer and Mithra

    The three Iranian scientists; Professor Masoud Ali-Mohamadi, Professor Ardeshir Hassanpour and Shahram Amiri were Mulla’s and Iran’s most prized assets,

    Why would the Iranian government want to embark on killing them one by one???

    The question that you have to ask yourself is this: “Who benefits from killing Iranian scientists?”

    Mullas clearly do not benefit from killing their own nuclear scientists however; there is only one country in the Middle East, which is paranoid about Iran becoming a nuclear power. We all know that country is Israel

    It is public knowledge that Israel has assassinated many nuclear scientists from Germany, Egypt, Iraq, and Pakistan during the past 30 years.

    Please click on this link;


    Israel has a track record of assassinating the nuclear scientists.

    Israel has also declared that a nuclear Iran poses an existential threat to Israel.

    Now, You do not have to be intelligent to work out who is behind the assassination of professor Ali-Mohammadi.

  6. Alan says:

    Paneer – you’re a bit of a card! You storm in abusing all and sundry, while simultaneously complaining about personal attacks. Then you complain about me not commenting about something, and when I ask you what it is you want me to comment on you won’t tell me!

    Oh well, it is said that consistency is the last refuge of fools I suppose.

  7. Dan cooper says:

    Dear Mr & Mrs Leverettes

    Please advise as to why my two posts are awaiting moderations?

    I have not said a word wrong but if you think that I have, please let me know what it is and I will rectify it.

    Yours sincerely

    Dan Cooper

  8. paneer says:

    Alan: You need to do your own leg work.

  9. Alan says:

    Paneer – I do believe the Leveretts have already responded to the very learned Mr Cole (I actually prefer his analysis, but he and the Leveretts are not that far apart).

    As for these other guys – well, OK, if you insist. Who are they and what did they say?

  10. Bobzee says:

    Man goshnam shod. paneer meekham.

  11. paneer says:

    Alan: Again, you haven’t offered one rational thought or one well-reasoned argument to refute any contents in Mohammad Sahimi’s or Abbas Milani’s or Patrick Disney’s article.

    When you’re done with your juvenile back and forth, you might want to read them and form some coherent thought and counter argument.

    I’m still waiting for the dynamic duo to respond to Milani, Sahimi, Disney, and Juan Cole…Thanks

  12. Alan says:

    Paneer – your 8.54pm post.

    A splendid example of self-deprecating irony. A treat.

  13. paneer says:

    The Greening of Islam
    How the Iranian uprising has transformed Shiism.


  14. WigWag says:

    Everyone at the “Race for Iran” is so obsessed with conspiracies. Has it occurred to anyone that maybe the killer was the husband of his paramour; or maybe it was a loan shark he owed some money to; or maybe it was a student who didn’t like a grade the professor gave him; or maybe it was a random act of violence?

    But for those who insist that the killing couldn’t have been committed by a lone gun man (or bomber) here are some other suggestions about who could be involved with the conspiracy:

    1) The Anti-Castro Cubans.

    2) The Mafia

    3) The “White” Russians

    4) Lyndon Johnson

  15. paneer says:

    I’m still waiting for the Leverettes to refute Abbas Milani and Mohammad Sahimi and Patrick Disney.

  16. paneer says:

    The IRI apologists and their pocket book cronies arguments goe something like this: anyone who is not a blind supporter of the IRI and its heinous crimes should not be taken seriously because they are eitehr AIPAC/zionist agents or they all want to run for office and plunder the country just like the mullahs do.

    This particular piece of work of regular cast of Islamists and far left toudeh commies are nothing but asn attempt to silence the debate by ruling that the other side is out of bounds for the duration. Like all ad hominem attacks, (argumentum ad hominem means “argument against the person”) it is an act of intellectual surrender. The person who employs an ad hominem attack is admitting they cannot win the debate on merit, and hope to chuck the entire thing out the window by attacking the messenger. This is a logical fallacy of the first order, because the messenger is not the message.

    This speaks volume of the calibre of commenters who are not really interested in facts or evidence and outright dimiss any information that does not corobborate their delusional dreams of rapproachment simply by intoning the same magic incantation Islamophobe and zionist and jooooooooooos..

    Why not use rational thought to refute the content on its own merit instead of launching personal attacks.

  17. hessabi says:

    Dear Leverettes and other good Americans,

    I see in the comments you have been targeted by Islamophobe Chalabi-like Iranian exiles and neocon friends with very little contemporary understanding of their own country. What these people want is to be put back in charge courtesy of your tax payer dollars. Do not let them intimidate you. Stand up for the truth and prevent this coming catastrophy, or else you will have to spend 50 years “nation building” in Iran. Keep up the good work.

  18. Alan says:

    Nice one, WigWag.

  19. Bobzee says:

    A member of Hezbollah at the crime scene. Why is he there?


  20. N Mehregan says:

    Why is the Islamic Republic saying that the murdered scientist was a “nuclear scientist”? His friend of 25 years, another scientist working in Virginia,Dr. Rakei said clearly that Dr. Mohammadi had definitely done no research on nuclear physics.
    When asked about his political views, Dr. Rakei said that Dr. Mohammadi was a Moslem and a religious man but in the past few years, he was an outspoken critic of the regime and had voted for Mousavi. You can watch the VOA interview below:


    If the Islamic Republic did not carry out the murder, why do they need to lie??

  21. WigWag says:

    “Blimey. Have you called in the cavalry, WigWag?”

    As a matter of fact, I haven’t Alan. I haven’t commented on this thread because frankly I think it’s a little silly. I don’t have the slightest idea who assassinated Masoud Ali Mohammadi. Could it have been the Israelis or the Americans? Sure. Could it have been internal groups funded by the CIA or Mossad? Sure. Could it have been the Revolutionary Guards or Basij milita operating on orders from the regime? Sure. Could it be someone in the empoly of the Saudis or some other Sunni Arab nation? Sure.

    Flynt Leverett doesn’t have the slightest idea who ordered the scientist to be murdered and neither does anyone commenting on this thread. Everyone is selecting their favorite killer based on their ideological predilections. Speculating about it seems like a waste of time to me.

    But as long as you’ve motivated me to comment let me tell you who I think the murderer is: I think it was Colonel Mustard in the Drawing Room with the Candlestick!

  22. N Mehregan says:

    “The piece first notes that there is no precedent in Iran in recent years for violent assassination of opponents. Instead Iran arrrests, charges and prosecutes. This is total nonsense. Whose opinion is this? Some Israeli paper which knows nothing obviously.
    For the past 30 years the Islamic Republic has done nothing other than committing violent assassinations, AS WELL AS arrests, torture and rape.
    What do you think happened to the Forouhars over 10 years ago? They were murdered and stabbed to death by Islamic Republic agents, in the middle of the night while they were sleeping in their beds; what happened to Jafar Panahi, a writer? These are well documented cases.
    What has happened in the past few months other than innocent people meeting violent deaths on the streets of Iran? Are you blind?? Do you think that the Islamic Republic is going to lose sleep over the death of an academic, who was opposed to their despotic and barbaric regime?

  23. True-True Iranian says:

    Also, when did I advocate sanctions?

  24. Alan says:

    Blimey. Have you called in the cavalry, WigWag?

  25. True-True Iranian says:

    Lysander–Don’t slander me and don’t put words in my mouth. Contrary to my point that Israel is not interested in peace, and that it would use every excuse to avoid it, AIPAC would say that Israel wants peace but it’s just not allowed to do so…but if that’s the best you can do in a debate…well, it just shows how deep your knowledge base is. So what if Hamas came on the scene in 1988? It’s the newest excuse, and the best one, since the public relations disaster that was Arafat (after Abdel-Nasser) for Israel. No amount of military might would have been able to prevent the evolution of a peace treaty in the ME if Israel did not have its bogeyman in the IRI since at least the early 1990’s, where there was serious moves toward a comprehensive peace treaty. Bear in mind that there was no such serious push by Arab nations (except for Egypt-which was more about self interest than anything else) up until then. BTW, Nasser was not just a gift to Israel because he lost, but rather he was a gift because he was a complete idiot by banking on a failed notion of “Arab unity” which Israel exploited to the last drop.

    ASDF: I agree.

  26. ASDF says:

    TTI: READ THIS. I just found this gem from anotehr thread:

    “His experience was overwhelmingly positive, and the picture he paints of the Iranians is one of friendliness, humour and constructiveness, with a consistent determination to protect their interests.”

    I think we are wasting our time here. How naive can you get???

  27. ASDF says:

    Alan: There will be no US/IRan raproachment, that’s the least of Iranian’s problem.

    You people suffer from group think. You’re in for a rude awakening. Putting down Iranians as zionist/AIPAC, or whatever only displays further the extent of your cluelessness. Enjoy it.

    I feel sorry for the US that has to rely on these so-called experts. God help us all!

  28. Alan says:

    I find it strange that as soon as a US/Iran nuclear deal appears to be getting close again, something like this happens as it did in October. It seems the culprit is likely to be some party or other that doesn’t want US/Iran rapprochement. That could be Israel, US hawks acting independently, or Iranian hardliners acting independently.

    One thing does seem certain to me: both Obama and Ahmadinejad/Khamenei will be mightily unhappy about this.

  29. Lysander says:


    For an Iranian you sure know the AIPAC talking points very well. It breaks down like this. Israel will not offer any concessions to those much weaker than itself. Hamas was not in gaza before 2006. It was a minimal force before 2001. It did not exist all before 1988. Why wS there no comprehensive peace? Because of Iran? There will be no comprehensive peace because Israel has no need for one given it’s absolute military dominance. Yes Hamas and Irab are excuses but if they were gone today there will be other excuses. Israel will not compromise when it runs out of excuses. But when the balance of power compels it. If not, there will be no compromise.

    Nasser was a blessing to Israel because he was defeated, not simply because he was belligerent. Which, btw, he wasn’t always. He tried quiet negotiations with Israel in the early fifties. Following the 1956 war, he learned it wasn’t going to get him anywhere.

    The IRI does need enmity with the US to survive. It is the US that is placing sanctions on Iran not the other way around. By your logic, you should be encouraging the US to lift sanctions as it will cause the hated regime to collapse. So why do you argue the opposite?

  30. ASDF says:

    TTI: Another problem with this crowd is the fact that they truly think Khamenie et al are going to make a deal with them if they strike a grand bargain with the regime’s hardliners. They still haven’t figured out the what drives the entire system. I think the disconnect results from not knowing the Iranian culture and lumping Iranians as muslism or Arabs. It’s indeed a big dilemma to transfer that knowledge.

  31. True-True Iranian says:

    The IRI is not capable of stopping the peace treaty by itself. However, its belligerence, threats and its proxy, Hamas give Israel the perfect excuse to dismiss all attempts at a peace treaty based on a vague claim of “security” concerns. Simply put, Israel has the perfect excuse not to enter into a peace treaty so long as Hamas is in charge in Gaza. And if you don’t think that Hamas is an Iran proxy, then you should watch IRI’s TV and look at its news websites, and you will see how often Mr. Mashaal is in Iran collecting his check. Despots, tyrants and oppressors all need external enemies to survive, and just like the IRI, Israel is no exception. The IRI is the best thing that has happened to the State of Israel since Arafat and Abdel-Nasser.

  32. Lysander says:


    have you considered that Israel actually did it? Given that 1) they said they would do it 2) It happened and 3) Their main newspaper thinks they did it. Of course *ANYTHING* is possible. But because I don’t parrot the Opposition talking points,it does not make me an IRI “automaton”

    Now, as for the opposition, I’m all for protests directed at demanding freedom, tolerance, openness, lack of corruption, government accountability, etc. And if Most Iranians decide to overthrow the government, so be it. Its not my business what you do, but facts are stubborn things.

    As to your second point, Iran is not doing a single thing to stop Israel from a comprehensive treaty if it wanted one. But it doesn’t, simply because the balance of power so greatly favors them, they have no need for a comprehensive treaty. Each and every Arab state has already offered full peace in exchange for pre ’67 borders. If Israel wanted that deal, Iran couldn’t do a thing to stop it.

  33. True-True Iranian says:

    Mr. Leverett, your “analysis” of Iran affairs shows your utter lack of understanding of the nature of the Islamic Republic. You’re looking at this regime in a “snapshot” of time. In order to understand the nature of this regime, you must look at its creation and how it got itself through its infancy, when it was in danger of being overthrown from within and without. For that, you must go back to the 1980’s and see how this regime let nothing stand in its way, including mass executions, purging of rival clerics by bombings, and prolonging the war with Iraq, so that it could solidify its hold on power. In fact, while everyone with short memory points out that the this assassination was by bombing and the IRI does not use that method, the fact is that assassination of Khomeini’s rivals by bombings, both small and large scale, were common place in the 1980’s. In sum, this regime is reverting back to what it knows best when it’s in a tough spot, and that is sensational killings and high profile assassinations to both get rid of unwanted “baggage” and create chaos to justify its crack downs.

    You need to do a bit more reading before you can call yourself an “Iran analyst”.

  34. ASDF says:

    “True Iranian”: You have not provided an iota of rational thought except hysterics.

    Any one who supports a murderous and criminal such as IRI, has no moral authority or credibility to speak of. Waste your ad hominems and diatribe for when your ilk have to deal with the wrath of the Iranian people.

    Shameful display of self-rightousness typical of VEVAK agents.

  35. ASDF says:

    Try to refute the content of Dr. Sahimi’s article and many who don’t agree with your point of view by providing reasoned-arguments and verifiable sources.

    Instead of name calling, vacuous arguments, infantile drivel, and childish accusation try to refute the content of each link if you can. Don’t shoot the messenger.

  36. True-True Iranian says:

    Have you one dimensional Islamic Republic automatons ever thought about the fact that Israel may take credit for this assassination even it was not behind it? Have you ever thought about the possibility that the Islamic Republic in Iran is the best thing that has ever happened to Israel since Gamal Abdel-Nasser and Yasser Aarafat? Have you ever thought about the fact that the Islamic Republic, and its proxy / bogeyman Hamas, is the main reason why Israel has been avoiding a comprehensive Middle East peace settlement for the past three decades?

    It’s time for you “trolls” to come out of your IRI induces hypnosis and take a look around with wide open eyes. You’ll be surprised at what you will see!

  37. Lysander says:

    Haaretz has two articles about this. On entitled “ANALYSIS / Iran scientist likely killed by opponents of nuclear program ” and the other “Israel tight-lipped about mysterious death of Iranian nuclear physicist.”

    They can barely contain themselves from bragging about it.

    So far we have

    1) open and declared intent by the US and Israel to covertly hamper Iran’s nuke program
    2) A hagiographic New York Times Article about Mossad Chief Meir Dagan which tells about Israels covert activity, including assassination, to attack Iran’s nuke program
    3) An after the fact article in Israel’s biggest news paper saying the likely culprits were “opponents of Iran’s nuclear program.”

    While we can never be absolutely certain of what happened, it doesn’t seem very mysterious at all. Every indication is that Israel did it.

    Now, does saying so make me a “regime” mouthpiece? I’ll let the trolls decide.

  38. True-True Iranian says:

    True Iranian, can you please tell us the sources behind the following claims that you have made in your comment:

    “All data suggests he was in the camp of Ahmadinejad, and even so if he was a green supporter…”

    What “data” are you referring to? Can you please provide the link to that database?

    “CIA by killing him can make Iran more unstabilized which is their goal…”

    How do you know that this is CIA’s “goal”? Can you please provide your source for this information?

    “I believe more assassinations are on the way to create martyrs necessary for an uprising.”

    On what information do you base this “belief” on? Can you please provide the source?

    “And it is no secrete that US has been running covert ops in Iran and supporting terrorists like Jundallah…”

    Again, please provide your source for this information. This should not be difficult because, as you say, the information is “no secret”.

  39. bart says:

    I agree with anonymous. Your site is not only infected by trolls, but the trolls have swamped the site to such an extent that reasonble discussion is being drowned out. Please re-consider how you moderate this site or the trolls will destroy this site as a forum for independent opinion.

    In today’s Haaretz, an israeli newspaper, there is an intersting opinion piece on the source of the assassination of the Iranian nuclear scientist.

    The piece first notes that there is no precedent in Iran in recent years for violent assassination of opponents. Instead Iran arrrests, charges and prosecutes. Second, there is precedent for Western and Israeli spy organizations conducting assassinations.

    1)Israel acted in the same way against german scientists in the 1960s who were working for Eygpt to develop missiles and again in the 1970s against various scientists including Eygptian scientists and Canadian, Gerared Bull, who worked on Iraq’s nuclear and missile programs.

    2) Increased reports in recent years of Western espionage attempts to harm Iranian scisntists who have died under mysterious circumstances, including one scientist who died at home ostensibly of suffocation from a space heater.

  40. True Iranian says:

    I think the only beneficiaries of this attack are Americans, by portraying in their media the false allegation that Iranian government itself killed him, which is grossly untrue. Alimohammadi was a professor in Imam Hussein University beside having another chair at Tehran university and Imam Hussein university is a place for hardliners and is owned by IRGC. All data suggests he was in the camp of Ahmadinejad, and even so if he was a green supporter, Iran would never gain anything by killing him, on the other hand CIA by killing him can make Iran more unstabilized which is their goal in portraying him as a martyr for green movement. I believe more assassinations are on the way to create martyrs necessary for an uprising. Just like in 1953 coup orchestrated by CIA in operation Ajax. CIA’s special activities division is very active in Iran, killing people so that Government would take the blame. Iranian government does not need to go and plant a bomb to eliminate some one and take all the attention. And it is no secrete that US has been running covert ops in Iran and supporting terrorists like Jundallah and siding with Saddam when he was using chemical weapons against Iranians. If anything can be said, it is this, US has no sympathy for Iranian public and they would easily shed six, or seven million litres of human blood inorder to achieve their regional goals.

  41. ASDF says:

    To Anonymous: Do you think you’re still living in the Islamic Republic???

    This is the United States of America where people are not raped and tortured because of their opinions.

  42. ASDF says:

    “”Even Leverette’s statement supports
    by Onlyiran on Wed Jan 13, 2010 09:39 AM PST

    the theory that the IRI was behind this assassination. If you listen to him talk on Worldfocus (see link provided by Vildemose below), you will hear him say (toward the end of the interview) that killing this professor will have a very marginal effect on IRI’s nuclear program. So the question that one should ask oneself is this: why would a foreign country go through all this trouble to kill this guy, with a bomb, in broad daylight, when doing so would only have a negligible effect on the nuclear program? A simple cost / benefit analysis will result in a decision not to go forward with the plan.

    On the other hand, the benefits for the IRI would be immense. They get rid of a scientist who is sympathetic to the opposition (and probably knew something about their program that he could expose) and at the same time get the justification that they need to crack down harder on the protesters and create a “security atmosphere”.

    Lastly, the fact that they came out immediately and accused the usuals suspects, without any investigation, and cleaned up the “crime scene”, again immediately, are tell tale signs of a well orchestrated, previously planned operation.

    The overwhelming evidence points the finger at the IRI.””

  43. N Mehregan says:

    I suspect the most likely explanation is that this professor was killed by the same agents who kill people on the streets of Iran on a daily basis; the Government baseejis or plain clothes henchmen:


  44. N Mehregan says:

    Only the Islamic government in Tehran would have the resources to plant such a sophisticated and devastating bomb. They are afraid to remove the main opposition figures such as Mousavi and Karoubi,as this will only backfire on them, so they are going for the lesser known opposition figures such as this innocent scientist who was supporting the student movement.
    Such a waste of a highly educated man who had spent years teaching young people. To propose that anyone else other than the ruling elite have sanctioned this terrible attack is preposterous, as anyone living in Iran will tell you that no one would have such resources at their disposal to carry it out.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Dr. Leverett, you should be advised that your posts are being followed over at iranian.com, where many of the site’s Iranian exiles view any objective perspective on the Islamic Republic of Iran as hostile to their cause of regime change. Hence the rising number of hate comments.

    You may wish to adjust your comment moderation policy accordingly.

  46. ASDF says:

    Death of nuclear scientist could lead to crackdown on enemies of state
    Times Online / Catherin Phillip


    It seems as though the only party benefiting from this assassination is the IRI hardliners.

  47. mithra says:

    The Greening of Islam
    How the Iranian uprising has transformed Shiism.

  48. mithra says:

    A History Of Political Assassinations In Iran
    Radio Free Europe / Luke Allnutt

  49. Akvan says:

    Leverett has indeed become the mouthpiece of the IRI. He ignores the fact that Prof Ali-Mohammadi was a Theoretical Particle Physicist whose research did not apply to building nuclear weapons. I am not sure what Leverett’s motives are but they are obviously trying to spread the IRI line to blame foreign powers thus diverting attention from the grass roots democracy movement in Iran.

  50. Bache Mahal says:

    I would like to someday read Leverett’s memoire to understand how he became a mouthpiece for the theocratic regime of Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). He does not admit but implies that the assassination of a physics professor, who reportedly was a reformist and perhaps worked on projects related to IRI nuclear program, may have been funded by the U.S. This man has increasingly sought media attention to question and discredit the organic uprising in Iran as the Holocaust is being questioned by Ahmadinejad.

  51. mithra says:

    shameful propaganda against the green movement:

    Who murdered Prof. Ali-Mohammadi?
    by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles
    13 Jan 2010 07:09No CommentsDr. Masoud Ali-Mohammadi, a professor of physics at the University of Tehran, was assassinated in front of his home in northern Tehran on Tuesday. Reports indicate that a motorcycle parked next to his car held a bomb that was set off by a remote control device. There are, however, other reports suggesting that the