Israel Just Showed Us the Future of Assassination (hint: it’s remote controlled)
Did you hear the one about the Israelis’ hit on an Iranian nuclear scientist? Maybe so, but this particular hit showed a forward thinking plan. A drive-by? Very East LA, and a good guess, but not this time. A smart bomb? Well, smarts were used, but not in the form of a bomb. The target was in this case a certain scientist, an Iranian physicist specifically targeted by Israel’s Mossad. The reason for this level of attention? He was the designer and program manager of Iran’s ongoing plans to miniaturize nuclear warheads, to build a nuke small enough to be the payload of a missile to reach Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest city. So this seems like a good idea to sabotage. Mohsen Fakrizhadeh had been tracked regularly by Mossad, and he was their primary target for elimination for some time. While the Israeli intel agency had achieved previous successes in retiring - to use the term from Bladerunner - key individuals in Iran who were essential to the miniaturization of a nuclear warhead, Fakrizhadeh was the main target since at least 2004. Retiring this man was the piece to the puzzle that Iran could not lose. While I had heard this important scientist had been killed late last year, likely by Israelis, the details of this hit were unknown to me until my doctor filled me in a few days ago. Dr Jason Shinn is my most excellent knee doctor, and after our medical time together, he noticed the notes I was taking on a clipboard for my podcast and said, “James, did you see the New York Times article about the Israeli hit on the Iranian scientist?” When mentioned I had not, he filled me in and it sounded like a great story. Dr Shinn said, “Well I know what your day job used to be and figured you’d be interested in that.” We talked a bit longer and I thanked him for the tip. That NYT article as well as a couple of others in futurism.com filled in plenty of details, do see the links below if you’re interested. After the deed was done, in other words, “the target had been successfully serviced” in artillery-speak, the truck bearing the means of assassination then blew itself up. This preprogrammed auto-detonation was supposed to eliminate the technical evidence of what had happened. Per the article, this was the only part of the plan that was not to the letter. The explosive damaged the machine gun, robotic firing mechanism, cameras and relays beyond repair, but Iranian investigators apparently figured out what had happened, just a bit too late. While I do advise you to read the article which was recommended to me if you can - it’s fairly long but worth the read - here is a shorter version of how Mossad did the high tech deed. Like all good intel, it involved a lot of brain work. Eyes on the ground, schedules of Dr Fakrizhadeh’s travels, intercepts, as well as the occasional lax protective detail. Always a bonus when you have a hard headed protectee, and it seems that Dr Fakrizhadeh fit that mold. Repeatedly. He liked to drive himself. He even occasionally mentioned to the security detail about his possible martyrdom. So he was not an easy target to keep breathing. The physicist in question also had a pattern. Please note that when you are a target, having a pattern makes your life shorter, and connecting the movement and behavioral dots easier for the opposing forces, in this case, possibly the best intelligence organization on Earth. So while not easy, enough plain old human analogue behavior on the part of the Iranian, and an improperly flexible security detail allowed Mossad to glean enough information to set up the hit. Technically, it was nothing short of glorious. It seems Fakrizhadeh and his wife were on their way to a Caspian Sea beach house to get some down time. The path to get there went through some highly rural areas - good for intel, but bad for a hit-and-get-out scenario. At one point a U-turn was required on the road to the beach house, and at that point an Israeli emplaced camera could make a confirmation of the physicist’s presence as well as his placement in the vehicle, and importantly, placement of any non-targets. It seems Fakrizhadeh’s wife was in the back seat. Mossad used a ruse that had been used before, a broken down vehicle. But a hitman was not in the vehicle. In the apparently broken down pickup truck - the wheel was off the vehicle for good effect - was a satellite-connected modular robot, connected to numerous cameras for the largest field of view possible. This was not only to make the hit, but to keep the collateral damage down to the goal. Zero fatalities other than physicist Fakrizhadeh. One problem of the internet era, greatly enhanced by the convenience and blight of wireless connections, is latency. That is, the lag time between your mouse click, key stroke, joy stick motions, and actually getting the action that you wanted into the computer and then on the screen. Lag time - latency - is a problem, and in this case could have been a mission ender. The latency, due to all the electronics as well as the uplink to the satellite, and then the weapon’s operator commanding the robot, so a satellite signal’s round trip, was a horrible 1.6 seconds. In short, awful. So a series of algorithms to assist in the decision making to mitigate the latency were used. The New York Times article calls it an A.I., and one could suppose that some its functions were close to that level, but it was still a human in Israel that had the shoot or no-shoot decision. The weapon used for this hit was an accurized 7.62 mm machine gun. As the vehicle driven by Dr Fakrizhadeh drove by, the precise moment to shoot was given by the computer, and the robotic machine gun fired for effect. While the range to its target was short, the lag time was critical, and the so-called A.I. proved up to the task, the target - the Iranian nuclear physicist - was hit multiple times, the wife was left unharmed - by the weapon at least, and the Mossad mission was a complete success. How much better is this method than trying to drop a sniper in and then extract him? No one left to “question” shall we say, if the shooter were caught, in the rather kinetic Iranian manner known so well under the Ayatollah. Now knowing this, have you any idea what the U.S. Secret Service is going through right now? No? Well I have a pretty good idea. They will attempt to rebuild a full-scale mockup of such a vehicle, hide it, and have their agents find, ID it and take it out. They will feel the need to develop whole new means of location of such a 21st century weapon, as well as coming up with jammers for the remote control commands, and means of detection of the origin of the carrier vehicle beyond anything like a mere VIN on the vehicle or fingerprints. If the Israelis can do it . . . Well, management’s imagination is probably in overdrive on this one. Secret Service agents on protective detail have to assume anything can be used to hide explosives, and anything the right size and shape can be used to hide a shooter. Now they have to integrate into their training Israel’s satellite controlled assassin-bot. Now that would be an interesting training scenario. We must remember this successful operation is not like a drone strike. Nothing like the way the US military used one in Afghanistan earlier, on August 29 (where 10 noncombatants were killed and zero bad guys). Nor the drone strikes to whack one individual - or even a few of them - at a funeral or an outdoor wedding party. No matter how accurate, when a JDAM is used (a typical military acronym, this time for Joint Defense Advanced Munition, otherwise known as a smart bomb), non-combatants are killed just as the targeted men labelled as terrorists, enemy intelligence, or senior officials of something or other. This was a years-long plan by Mossad to whack a single man, collaterals (that is, anyone not targeted for the bullets) not allowed even if the bot is on target with the first round . Dr Fakrizhadeh’s wife was not killed, neither were the bodyguards or any other noncombatants. Zero collaterals, in Pentagon-speak, the ideal way to reach out and retire someone the hard way. Consider Israel’s methods - take out the key man in the entire military/industrial/intelligence complex of Iran to miniaturize a nuclear weapon and hit Tel Aviv. No agents or other Israeli operators left behind. No non-combatants killed. Most of the tech destroyed. This sure looks like a win for Israeli intel. Now, consider the generic drone strike modus of counter-terrorism expert Richard Clarke. Detect a bunch of bad guys doing something, pretty much in the presence of only other bad guys. Use an MQ-1 Predator drone to apply a Hellfire missile or JDAM for a mass retirement. Done. But what does Mr Clarke’s blueprint leave out? Wedding parties, funerals, other social events where the likelihood of genuine noncombatants getting killed or seriously injured is about 100%. Mr Clarke’s original idea was excellent. One successful strike - years ago - was a group of Taliban at a shooting range. The original targets, pre-identified by photographs and known to be serially bad guys got a quick scrub from this mortal coil. Bonus points, no family members or other noncombatants were involved. Richard Clarke’s original idea was a great one, but there is always “mission creep” in the military, and since 9/11 that means more noncombatants killed. Meaning the survivors, those present and those not, spend a lifetime angry at the aggressors, in this case, the United States. Not a way to make current or future allies. If we are not willing to be as methodical in planning, and as exploitive in current deployable tech, as are the Israelis, could we just go back to whacking a bad-guys only meeting at one of their AK-47 parties in the boondocks? Just a thought. . . Links: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/02/world/middleeast/iran-assassination-nuclear... https://futurism.com/the-byte/iran-nuclear-scientist-killed-satellite-controlled-machine-gun https://futurism.com/the-byte/nyt-israel-robot-sniper Remember Colleagues, Opposing Perspective podcasts are available from your favorite podcast distributors. There are also updates on Facebook, at Opposing Perspective. 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-- James F. Ponder Opposing Perspective on Aftermath.FMBlog at: OpposingPerspective.com Facebook: Opposing Perspective Subscribe: Aftermath.media/u/15