Meet the Fakhrs

I’ve said before that Iran can’t jump the gap of actually producing nuclear weapons because they will get caught. Partly this is because the global intelligence services monitoring Iran are good. And partly this is because Iran’s operational security is so poor.

This second assertion is one that I’m particularly comfortable making because the evidence to prove it is freely available. Even the man who is at the very heart of Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities – Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi (مهسن فخرى زاده), who has led Tehran’s military nuclear program since the late 1990s – is appallingly insensitive to security obligations. To gain entry into Fakhrizadeh’s world, all you need to get you started is a single online data point.

And it’s not even a data point that’s too hard to find. Back in 2010, as part of a quite decent exposé story, the Israeli newspaper Tel Aviv Yedi'ot Aharonot published the URL of a blog that they alleged belonged to one Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. It wasn’t a well-hidden blog – the URL was mfakhrizadeh.blogfa.com, for god’s sake. And, if you read it, nor was it particularly interesting: the author’s musings on religion, philosophy and physics were solipsistic and frankly a bit dull. But it almost certainly did belong to Mohsen Fakhrizadeh of Physics Research Company (PHRC)/ Section for the Development and Application of Advanced Technologies (SDAAT)/AMAD fame. And surprisingly, despite his blog confirming his existence to the world – as well as showing that you’d really not want to get stuck next to Fakhrizadeh at a dinner party – the site is still online. Indeed, just last month, for the first time in about four years, Fakhrizadeh put up a new post. Apparently he’ll even reply to questions: I would write in, but I’m afraid I’d come over all fanboy style.

That Fakhrizadeh is still blogging is his first epic security fail. Where things get even worse is that the hyperlinks contained therein inadvertently reveal a series of Fakhrizadeh’s private connections.

Here’s a good one. In a mere two clicks from mfakhrizadeh.blogfa.com, you can find yourself on the website of an Iranian company named Fakhr Imen-e Shargh (فخر اىمن شرق). This is their logo:

Pic 1

Google this company and you’ll find that its management team consists of three men with a rather familiar surname:

  1. Hani Fakhrizadeh (هانى فخرى زاده) – Fakhr Imen Technical Director.
  2. Hamed Fakhrizadeh (حامد فخرى زاده) – Fakhr Imen Manager.
  3. Mahdi Fakhrizadeh (مهدى فخرى زاده) – Fakhr Imen Managing Director.

Note a common thread there? Given the rarity of the surname Fakhrizadeh, I’ll wager that Hani, Hamed and Mahdi are sons of Mohsen (which not a great leap of logic to make given the links between mfakhrizadeh.blogfa.com and Fakhr Imen-e Shargh. Oh, and when this site discloses Mahdi Fakhrizadeh as being one of Mohsen’s sons).

If Fakhr Imen-e Shargh was making artisan chocolates or curing cancer, I’d be inclined to leave them well alone. But they’re not. Fakhr Imen-e Shargh sells and installs CCTV and security equipment and advertises itself as one of only two companies in Iran authorised to conduct security projects for Iran’s Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL).

MODAFL, you’ll recall, has been designated by the US and EU for providing support to Iran’s missile and nuclear programs. And it’s MODAFL that oversees Mohsen Fakhrizadeh’s clandestine research outfit, SPND. So the brothers Fakhrizadeh are well in breach of UN and EU sanctions measures, let alone any moral obligations that might exist about not supporting nuclear weapons production.

Given that Fakhr Imen-e Shargh is an exclusive supplier of sensitive security equipment to MODAFL, I’d also bet the house that Mohsen himself is a key part of the company. Given his extensive connections to Iran’s senior military and IRGC figures, who else would be better to facilitate lucrative defence contracts for Fakhr Imen-e Shargh? (I shudder to think how much MODAFL cash has been shovelled into the company over the past decade – and hopefully it’s been done legally or else the Fakhrizadehs could find themselves in trouble with the law.)

For the record, here’s the Fakhrizadeh Family Tree and its relationship to Mohsen, SPND, and MODAFL:

Pic 2

If you’re really interested, there’s a web of interconnected companies surrounding Fakhrimen-e Shargh that are most likely other parts of the Fakhrizadeh empire. Because of clan Fakhrizadeh’s exemplarily poor security practices, they’re really not hard to find. These companies are:

Sayna Holding

Sayna Kish

Fakhrimen-e Sayna

Novin Pardazeshgaran

With all that in mind, I’m struggling to comprehend how MODAFL can contract such a demonstrably insecure company as Fakhr Imen-e Shargh to provide security for sensitive projects.

I’m also finding it hard to believe that Iran’s leadership would ever entrust the production of nuclear weapons to a man who can’t resist putting everything he thinks (and lots of what he does) onto the Internet – while pouring buckets of MODAFL money into his sons’ pockets. That’s just mind-boggling.

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