Iran’s top nuclear scientist was assassinated on Friday, and officials including Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif didn’t spare any time in pointing a finger at Israel for the attack, the Associated Press reported.
Writing in a tweet Friday, Zarif said the scientist was “murdered” in an act of “cowardice” that “shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators,” according to the AP. And stunningly, former CIA Director John Brennan, a noted enemy of President Donald Trump, appeared to agree.
While Brennan didn’t concur with the unconfirmed allegations from Iran that Israel, one of the United States’ strongest allies, was behind the killing, he did express a sentiment that echoed Zarif’s, calling the attack “a criminal act” that was “highly reckless” in a tweet of his own.
“A new round of regional conflict”
According to the AP, the attack that killed Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh and a number of other people took place near the Iranian village of Absard.
Citing reports from international and Iranian state-run media, the AP said a truck filled with explosives detonated next to Fakhrizadeh’s car and disabled it. From there, several gunmen reportedly emerged and opened fire on the scientist and other passengers. Fakhrizadeh later succumbed to his injuries at a hospital, according to the AP.
Notably, Israel declined to comment when pressed by the outlet. But that hasn’t stopped Iranian officials from casting blame. “We will descend like lightning on the killers of this oppressed martyr and we will make them regret their actions!” an adviser to Iran’s supreme leader said following the Fakhrizadeh’s death, according to the AP.
Linking to the AP’s report, Brennan warned on Twitter on Friday that regardless of who is responsible, the act “risks lethal retaliation [and] a new round of regional conflict. Iranian leaders would be wise to wait for the return of responsible American leadership on the global stage [and] to resist the urge to respond against perceived culprits,” he said.
Brennan admitted in another tweet that he doesn’t know “whether a foreign government authorized or carried out the murder of Fakhrizadeh,” but noted that “[s]uch an act of state-sponsored terrorism would be a flagrant violation of international law [and] encourage more governments to carry out lethal attacks against foreign officials.”
“Logan Act violations?”
Given the fact that Fakhrizadeh was known to be the head of Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program, it isn’t all that surprising that Israel and one of its closest allies, the United States, are facing scrutiny following the scientist’s death. To that end, you might think that top-ranking U.S. officials — current and former — would hold back from commenting until more information is known.
But as left-leaning journalist Glenn Greenwald aptly noted in a tweet of his own, that doesn’t seem to be the approach taken by Brennan, who, importantly, is no longer an active U.S. official. Perhaps an investigation — one similar to the one that plagued former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — is in order?
This, ironically, is *exactly* the message that Flynn gave to Russia during the 2016 transition — hey, guys, don’t get crazy with retaliation: wait until we’re in power shortly and things will be different.
Maybe the FBI should investigate Brennan for Logan Act violations? https://t.co/W6ltqKpsw9
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) November 27, 2020
If such a probe was opened, Sen. Ted Cruz would likely be all for it. The Texas Republican was also harshly critical of the Obama-era CIA director’s remarks last week, writing in response to Brennan’s tweet:
It’s bizarre to see a former head of the CIA consistently side with Iranian zealots who chant “Death to America.” And reflexively condemn Israel. Does Joe Biden agree?