One of Iran’s top nuclear scientists was assassinated with a machine gun powered by “artificial intelligence” last year.
According to a report by the New York Times, the Israeli secret service assassinated Mohsen Fakhrizadeh – widely considered the father of Iran’s nuclear programme – using an AI-controlled killer robot.
Fakhrizadeh was killed in an unsolved shooting near Absard in November 2013.
While initial reports said it was the work of anonymous gunmen, Iranian officials went on to claim that it had been the work of a killer robot operated by remote control – something that was mocked at the time by both Iranians and electronic warfare experts.
However, interviews with top military intelligence officials from Iran, Israel, and the US have revealed that the nuclear scientist was indeed killed by an artificial intelligence weapon.
Officials claim that the Israeli spy agency Mossad used a Belgian-made FN MAG gun with an AI device. All of the equipment was over a tonne and had to first be cut into small pieces before being transported into Iran by different routes.
The killer robot was then constructed on the back of an Iranian-made pickup truck, which was mounted with dozens of cameras.
The assassins set up a decoy car to help identify the target and force them into a U-turn. A gunman sitting thousands of miles away fired the shot once he was within range. An AI system calculated the vehicle speeds and signal delay for the machine gun and it fired.
After an initial hail of bullets, Fakhrizadeh – who had been shot in the shoulder – took cover behind his car door. The assassins shot again. He was killed by three bullets that struck his spine.
Fakhrizadeh’s wife, who was sitting next to him, was shockingly uninjured by the bullets. Computer automation is evident by the surgical precision at which the attack was performed.
The vehicle on which the machine gun was mounted then exploded in an attempt to destroy the evidence—but most of the robotic equipment survived.
Israel has long operated a “sabotage and assassinate” programme in Iran to try and stop the country from building nuclear weapons. Five Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated by Israel since 2007, using poisoning, motorbike attacks, and remote bombs.
The assassination program was temporarily halted by President Obama after he opened talks on Iran’s nuclear negotiations. However, President Trump later pulled out of the deal and the assassination program was resumed.
The apparently mild-mannered Fakhrizadeh – who is said to have enjoyed poetry and trips to the beach – had already survived numerous attempts on his life in the past, and even had a full-time security detail.
The controversial use of AI technology in war is not well-respected. In 2015, thousands of scientists – including Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk – signed an open letter calling for a global ban on so-called “autonomous weapons” which could make life-and-death decisions independently of human control.
While many people are opposed to the kind of deadly weapons that can act without human intervention, the AI used in the Fakhrizadeh assassination was seemingly there to aid the assassins in making hyper-accurate shots.
These systems can make predictions and calculations that are lightning fast, which is why the Israeli ambush was so precise.
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