At the gallows, the condemned prisoner Tuesday repeated the allegations Iran lodged against him: That he was trained by Israel's spy agency to carry out one of the first attacks on Iranian scientists in a suspected shadow war against Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
"The end of the road has nothing except repentance -- and rope," Majid Jamali Fashi was quoted as saying moments before he was hanged for the January 2010 bombing that killed Tehran University physics professor Masoud Ali Mohammadi.
The execution inside Tehran's Evin Prison -- and Iran's state-sanctioned coverage of his purported last words -- are connected to a world of alleged covert operations and assassination plots that have stretched from the Black Sea to Bangkok, and yet have somehow not disrupted efforts at nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, which are expected to resume next week in Baghdad.
At least four other members of Iran's scientific community have been killed since the explosion of a bomb-rigged motorcycle that targeted Mohammadi. Iran has blamed Israel's Mossad spy agency as well as the CIA and Britain's MI-6. Washington and London have previously denied any roles.
In Jerusalem, Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Tuesday the slayings "are not connected to us in any way."
But Israel and others have pointed the finger at Iran for alleged reprisal missions, including a February bombing in New Delhi that wounded an Israeli diplomat's wife and the discovery of a cache of explosives in Bangkok that Thai officials claim was linked a plot to target Israeli diplomats. In Azerbaijan's capital of Baku, security officials in March announced the arrest of 22 suspects allegedly hired by Iran for terrorist attacks against the U.S. and Israeli embassies and other Western-linked sites.
The intrigue, however, has remained on the margins as the U.S. and allies try to press ahead with negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. A first round last month in Istanbul produced no breakthroughs, but discussions are expected to intensify at the next session beginning May 23.
The suspect, Fashi, was put on trial in August 2011 in proceedings that received full state media attention. Iranian TV broadcast what it said were his confessions in which he admitted that he was recruited by the Mossad and went to Israel for training as a paid assassin. Little else has been made public about Fashi, 24, except that he was a member of the national team in the sport of pankration, which includes elements of boxing, wrestling and fighting.
He was sentenced to death for crimes of "defiance of God," or using arms against Iran's Islamic government, and spreading "corruption on the earth," or damaging public security and order.