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This is the story of the assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, on Friday, Nov. 27, 2020.

The news reports from Iran that afternoon were confusing, contradictory and mostly wrong.

A team of assassins had waited alongside the road for Mr. Fakhrizadeh to drive by, one report said. Residents heard a big explosion followed by intense machine gun fire, said another. A truck exploded ahead of Mr. Fakhrizadeh’s car, then five or six gunmen jumped out of a nearby car and opened fire. A social media channel affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps reported an intense gun battle between Mr. Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards and as many as a dozen attackers. Several people were killed, witnesses said.

Actually, that was all false. The assassin was a killer robot, and the entire operation was conducted by remote control. All the agents who had placed the trap had left the area long before. The robot was equipped with artificial intelligence and multiple-camera eyes, operated via satellite and capable of firing 600 rounds a minute. The American officials briefed about the assassination plan in advance in Washington supported it.

Iranian investigators noted that not one of the machine gun bullets hit Ms. Ghasemi, seated inches away from her husband in the passenger seat and sat on the ground with his head in her lap after he was shot, accuracy that they attributed to the use of facial recognition software.

Unlike noisy drones, which can alert enemies and be shot down, a killer machine gun robot in a broken-down vehicle or in a building can wait silently and undetected until ready to strike.

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