On Saturday, a car bomb in Masyaf, Syria, killed key Syrian rocket scientist Aziz Asbar and his driver, and Syria and Hezbollah quickly pointed the finger at Israel. "In this case, the accusations were well founded," The New York Times reported Monday, citing information passed on by a senior intelligence official from an unidentified Middle Eastern nation. The official said Israel's Mossad assassinated Asbar who, as head of a top-secret weapons lab called Sector 4, was working assiduously with Iran to retrofit Syria's SM600 Tishreen rockets to create precision-guided missiles capable of accurately hitting Israeli cities.
Only an Israeli prime minister can legally authorize a Mossad "negative treatment" operation, or assassination. "Israel did not claim responsibility," the Times notes. "It never does. But the Mossad has a long history of assassinating scientists developing weaponry seen as a threat," dating back to attempts on German scientists working for Egypt in the 1950s. Iran has been the Mossad's most frequent target recently. "Since 2007 it has assassinated six Iranians, most of them scientists involved in Iran's nuclear and missile programs on their way to work in the morning," the Times reports. "An Iranian general in charge of a missile project was also blown up in his headquarters along with 17 of his men," and "Israeli operatives have also killed a number of Syrians." You can read more about Israel's assassination program and Asbar's work and death at The New York Times. Peter Weber