NEW DELHI – Delhi Police arrested an Indian journalist, Syed Mohammed Ahmad
Kazmi, a Shi’ite with longstanding Iranian connections, on Tuesday for his
alleged role in facilitating the February 13 bombing of an Israeli Embassy
The explosion – in which Tal Yehoshua Koren, wife of the Israeli
defense attache, was injured – was caused by a “sticky bomb,” which a
motorcyclist attached to the car when it slowed down at a traffic intersection,
a short distance from the Indian prime minister’s residence.
according to Delhi Police, is a “freelance journalist.”
He runs Media
Star News and Features, an Urdu-language news agency, and is said to be a
part-time employee with an Iranian broadcaster.
According to his family,
he wrote columns for Iranian newspapers and filed reports for the official
Iranian Islamic Republic News Agency.
Senior officials involved with the
investigation said Kazmi was an Urdu news reader with India’s public
broadcaster, Doordarshan. They also disclosed that Kazmi is likely to have
visited the Israeli Embassy. He reported on the Iraq war for a production
“He was a frequent visitor to Iran since 1983 and has visited
several countries in the Middle East, including Iraq and Syria,” an official
close to the investigation said.
Kazmi is reported to have been picked up
by the police on Tuesday night from the sprawling India Islamic Cultural Center
on Lodhi Road, a high profile locality in the heart of New Delhi and close to
the UN’s offices. The police have searched his house and visited Meerut, a town
near Delhi, from where he hails.
He appeared in court on Wednesday and
formally charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, a tough
anti-terrorism law, for helping the terrorist who planted the bomb on the
Police were granted custody of Kazmi for 20 days for “custodial
Had the attacks succeeded on a greater scale, they could
have provoked a strong Israeli response, a senior Israeli security expert said
“What amazes me about all of these attempts is the fact that
one successful attack, one Israeli embassy blown up, is a casus belli [a
incident that justifies war] for a very strong Israeli response,” Ely Karmon, of
the Interdisciplinary Center’s Institute for Counter-Terrorism, told The
He noted that the Iranian terror plot centering on
Israel’s embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan, would have also harmed the Japanese
embassy in the city, which shares its building.
Karmon added that the
arrest of Kazmi fits in with an established Iranian pattern of using locals
while setting up attacks abroad.
“In terms of characteristics, they set
up a local infrastructure using Sunnis or Shi’ites.
They [the Iranians]
don’t care, as long as the job gets done,” he said.
Often, “the serious
operational people” are Iranians or Hezbollah operatives, and arrive briefly in
the designated country to create the explosives before leaving, Karmon
Past terror plots organized by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard
Corps (IRGC) have followed similar patterns in South America, Singapore,
Thailand and Indonesia, he added.
Karmon pointed to a 2008 plot to blow
up the Israeli embassy in Baku, in which two Lebanese suspects and four
Azerbaijani nationals were arrested. The Lebanese men have since been sentenced
to 15 years behind bars each. Several Iranian, Lebanese and Azerbaijani members
of the terror ring escaped to Iran, he added.
Similarly, in 1999, an
Indonesia terror suspect was arrested in the Philippines, and told authorities
he had been recruited by Hezbollah, together with other Indonesians and
Malaysians. The suspects trained in Lebanon before being dispatched to attack
targets in Australia and Israel.
“This has been happening again and again
since 1983,” Karmon said. In many cases, Lebanese Shi’ite expatriates are
approached for recruitment.
The cases often involve the IRGC’s elite unit
for terror attacks abroad, the Quds Force, Karmon said.
Karmon said the
latest wave of attacks was an effort to create simultaneous strikes against
Israelis, but was marked by poor operational capabilities, so much so that
Hezbollah distanced itself from them.
The police said their
investigations have led them to believe that the conspiracy to bomb the Israeli
Embassy car was “hatched outside India” and the “possibility of a foreign hand
cannot be ruled out.”
In view of Kazmi’s known connections, the police
are clearly implicating Iran although no formal statement to that effect has yet
Describing the bombing as a case of “international terrorism,”
the police said Kazmi helped the bomber conduct a reconnaissance of the area
around the Israeli Embassy, which is located on Aurangzeb Road, off Delhi’s main
landmark, India Gate.
“He provided the bomber with insider information,”
a source said, in addition to possibly sheltering him at his home.
Police Commissioner BK Gupta told journalists that a mobile phone and laptop
have been seized from Kazmi. He refrained from providing details of what else
the police have found while searching Kazmi’s house.
Asked if more
arrests were likely, Gupta said: “We have to nab two to three more
Sources said the black motorcycle used by the bomber, which is
believed to have been procured with Kazmi’s help, has been traced. The police
have also found a scooter at his residence which is said to have been used for
the reconnaissance that he conducted of the area around the Israeli Embassy. It
is possible security camera footage holds evidence of the scooter being
After Kazmi appeared in court, the public prosecutor told the Chief
Metropolitan Magistrate: “He is one of the conspirators of this wider
This is a case of international terrorism. It is not
necessarily that only Indians are involved in this case and there is a
possibility that some foreign nationals might be involved.”
the public prosecutor, “the conspiracy was hatched outside India.” But he
refused to elaborate, saying: “We have already recorded the statement of the
eyewitnesses to the incident. The conspiracy was hatched outside India. We do
not want to disclose all the information in the open court as the main accused,
who is yet to be arrested, could go out of the reach of the investigating
“An IED [improvised explosive device] was planted for the
explosion and this was not an accidental act. Everything was carried out in a
well-planned way. We need 20 days [of] police custody of the accused to unearth
the entire conspiracy.
The investigation is going on and some more
accused are yet to be arrested,” the public prosecutor said.
counsel denied the charges, accused the investigators of “falsely implicating”
him and opposed the custody sought by Delhi Police. His objections were
The formal arrest of Kazmi came a day after elections in five
Indian states, including Uttar Pradesh, which is home to a huge Muslim
The police are likely to have kept him under surveillance for
many days and monitored his movements to ensure he did not slip away.
Indian government has been hesitant to openly name Iran as a collaborator in the
attack because of crucial oil imports. Tuesday’s arrest comes three days before
an Indian trade delegation leaves for Iran to negotiate methods of circumventing
Meanwhile, police in Thailand suspect that Thai nationals
could also be involved in the plot to murder Israeli diplomats in the southeast
According to a report from India’s Zeenews website,
Bangkok Deputy Police Chief Pansiri Prapawat confirmed that police are
investigating the possible involvement of local Thais in the triple bombing
plot. Prapawat did not provide further details due to the fact that
investigation is ongoing, the report said.
Two Iranian suspects remain at
large and arrest warrants have been issued for them, Thai authorities said.
Three others, including terror suspect Saeid Moradi, who blew off both of his
legs with his own grenade while trying to flee police, are in Thai
Moradi remains in the hospital, Zeenews said.