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Technology and society

Hossein Derakhshan
Media analyst

Journalist and media researcher at Harvard's Shorenstein and MIT Media lab. Freed from Iranian prison after six years, in Nov 2014. Email: [email protected]

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piqer: Hossein Derakhshan
Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Assassinations: Do They Actually Work?

When Israeli investigative journalist Ronen Bergman asked what was the most effective measure to counter a suspected Iranian nuclear programme from 2005 to 2010 – before the moderate government made a deal with six world powers and stopped suspicious parts of its programme – the former head of the CIA, Michael Hayden, answered: the assassination of scientists.

Bergman’s book, ‘Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations’, has documented some of the estimated 2700 targeted killings done by Israel over several decades. BBC 4’s Analysis podcast talks to Bergman and other experts who have worked on state-sponsored assassinations.

The question podcast host Edward Stourton asks is not whether these assassinations are morally justified or not, but whether they have the expected effect.

In the case of Iran, they seemed to work after six of the 15 scientists listed by Israel as targets died under suspicious circumstances or were killed in broad daylight, according to Bergman. That scared most others and they left the project.

But the podcast discusses other cases where things have either gone wrong, backfired, or led to worse consequences. Producer Phoebe Kean has examined Russian killings, as well as American and British cases, and raises a crucial question: Do assassinations work?

Assassinations: Do They Actually Work?
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