Iran’s top nuclear scientist woke up an hour before dawn, as he did most days, to study Islamic philosophy before his day began.
That afternoon, he and his wife would leave their vacation home on the Caspian Sea and drive to their country house in Absard, a bucolic town east of Tehran, where they planned to spend the weekend.
Iran’s intelligence service had warned him of a possible assassination plot, but the scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, had brushed it off.
Convinced that Mr. Fakhrizadeh was leading Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear bomb, Israel had wanted to kill him for at least 14 years. But there had been so many threats and plots that he no longer paid them much attention.
Despite his prominent position in Iran’s military establishment, Mr. Fakhrizadeh wanted to live a normal life. He craved small domestic pleasures: reading Persian poetry, taking his family to the seashore, going for drives in the countryside.