“This was a criminal act & highly reckless. It risks lethal retaliation & a new round of regional conflict,” Brennan wrote, saying that the Iranian government “would be wise” to avoid retaliation and wait for Democrat Joe Biden to replace President Donald Trump in the White House.
Brennan noted that it remains unclear who authorized and carried out the murder, but said that it could have dramatic consequences for the region.
“Such an act of state-sponsored terrorism would be a flagrant violation of international law & encourage more governments to carry out lethal attacks against foreign officials.”
Brennan explained that attacks on entities like Al-Qaeda and ISIS cannot be considered state-sponsored terrorism because these groups are not recognized as states, while Iran is.
As reported by The Associated Press, the attack on Fakhrizadeh took place in the village of Absard. At least five gunmen opened fire on his Nissan sedan, after setting off an explosion. The scientist died at a hospital and several of his bodyguards were injured.
Some governments considered Fakhrizadeh the driving force behind Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. Notably, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once said that the public should remember Fakhrizadeh’s name.
Iranian politicians said that Israel was behind the murder.
Presidential candidate in Iran’s 2021 election and adviser to the country’s current leader, Hossein Dehghan, issued a warning.
“In the last days of their gambling ally’s political life, the Zionists seek to intensify and increase pressure on Iran to wage a full-blown war. We will descend like lightning on the killers of this oppressed martyr and we will make them regret their actions!” he said in a statement.
Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif issued a statement as well, calling on the international community to intervene.
Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today. This cowardice—with serious indications of Israeli role—shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators
Iran calls on int'l community—and especially EU—to end their shameful double standards & condemn this act of state terror.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) November 27, 2020
As The Associated Press noted, Fakhrizadeh’s assassination is all but certain to raise tensions between Iran and the United States. The two nations were on the brink of war after Trump authorized the killing of high-ranking general Qasem Soleimani.
Unlike Trump, Biden — who will be inaugurated in January — supports the Iran nuclear deal, which was designed to prevent the country from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Trump has reportedly floated attacking Iran in the final weeks of his presidency. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are allegedly opposed to the idea.