3D Model Potentially Confirms Highly Contested Explanation of Iranian Nuclear Scientist Killing

Open source intelligence analysts created a detailed model of the killing, revealing surprising results.
Trevor English

The killing of Iran's top nuclear scientist was thoroughly modeled by open-source analysts, possibly confirming the official story of how the killing was carried out.

When Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in November of 2020, tensions in the region suddenly raised and Iran officially stated that it was carried out using a satellite-controlled machine gun

This official story was highly questioned by the international community, but thanks to a new open-source 3D model, its validity has gained some traction. 

The 3D model

The 3D model in question was created by a group of online analysts, known as OSINT, or Open-Source Intelligence. All of the data used in the model was (and is) freely available and can be seen throughout the 3D model. Specifically, the model itself was made in Unity, a game engine, by a user by the name of "Putin Is A Virus." Politically associated name aside, the model creates a highly objective recreation of the crime scene.

The model is available for anyone to click through and it provides a variety of paths that each of the five bullets could've traveled, many seeming to indicate the singular location of a truck-mounted machine gun.

3D Model Potentially Confirms Highly Contested Explanation of Iranian Nuclear Scientist Killing
An image of the assassination crime scene. Source: Fars/Wikimedia Commons 

The analyst utilized a method known as projection mapping to accurately map the bullet hole trajectories from the bullet holes in the damaged Nissan Teana, which was 3D modeled from images on the scene.

International speculation

Apart from Iran's official story, the international community had speculated that the assassination was carried out by a crew of gunmen. The new 3D model, however, seems to imply that there was a single firing location possible for all of the bullet holes at about the height of the bed of a pickup - something that sounded absurd initially.

It is of note that the 3D model doesn't definitively confirm the official satellite machine gun story, but rather draws it further into the realm of possibility. Because of all of the variable possible firing paths in the 5 bullets, there is the potential for multiple sources still. However considering that the 3D model demonstrates the official model can be considered accurate, analysts are viewing it as the plausible reality of events.

The idea of a satellite-controlled remote machine gun mounted in the back of a pickup isn't as absurd as it may sound. In fact, there are already weapons with these exact specifications, such as the Smash Hopper, a remote firing setup from the company SmartShooter. 

Even with all of this open-source data, the biggest issue impeding the finding of truth is the fact that the Iranian government has tightly guarded all of the information about the event. This leaves analysts and the international intelligence community to fill in the blanks left between the publically available data. 

You can explore the 3D model of the crime scene here. Of note, a mouse and a keyboard will be necessary.

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