‘Work accident’ foils suspected Iranian bomb plot

Israeli institutions were likely the target; intelligence efforts under way to link three recent attacks.

February 15, 2012 00:49
3 minute read.
Police investigate site of blast in Bangkok

Thailand blast 390. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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An alleged Iranian plot to bomb targets in Bangkok was prevented Tuesday, when an explosion occurred as members of a terror cell were assembling explosive devices.

Their target, Israeli defense officials said, was likely an Israeli institution or diplomat in Thailand’s capital.

The cell consisted of three Iranians who rented a home in the Ekamai neighborhood in central Bangkok. On Tuesday morning, an explosion rocked the house, likely the result of a “work accident.”

The three men then fled the home, and one of them, Saeid Moradi tried flagging down a taxi on the street. The driver refused to allow Moradi in since his face was covered in blood, and the Iranian national threw a grenade at the vehicle in response. He then threw another grenade at police but it bounced off a tree and exploded next to him, blowing off his legs.

“We discovered the injured man’s passport. It’s an Iranian passport and he entered the country through Phuket and arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport on the eighth of this month,” Police General Bansiri Prapapat told Reuters.

A second Iranian national was apprehended in the afternoon at Bangkok’s international airport as he tried boarding a flight to Malaysia. Police later raided the home and discovered several kilograms of C-4 explosives and a number of remote-control detonators.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak accused Iran of standing behind the plot to launch attacks in the city. Barak visited Bangkok for several hours on Sunday before continuing to Singapore where he is attending the annual air show.

“Iran and Hezbollah are terror groups without red lines and are a danger to the stability in the region and the entire world,” Barak said.

The explosions in Bangkok came a day after bomb attacks targeted Israeli Embassy staff in India and Georgia. Israel has accused Iran and Hezbollah of orchestrating those attacks.

Iran has denied its involvement.

Israeli delegations are on high alert around the world out of fear that the spate of attacks will continue.

“Iran does not need an excuse to attack,” a senior official said. “It just waits for a window of opportunity and then tries to attack.” Last month, a Hezbollah operative planning attacks against Israel’s embassy and local Jewish institutions was captured in Bangkok. He later led investigators to a warehouse filled with more than four tons of urea fertilizer and dozens of liters of liquid ammonium nitrate, known bomb-making materials.

Israel is currently focusing its intelligence efforts on trying to prove a link among the three recent bomb plots – in New Delhi and Georgia on Monday and the explosions in Bangkok on Tuesday.

The assessment within the defense establishment is that the Iranian nationals caught in Bangkok were working on behalf of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Al-Quds Force, which is responsible for overseas operations.

“If there was any doubt after the attacks in India and Georgia that they were carried out by Iran the fact that Iranian nationals were captured in Bangkok is clear proof of how Iran as a country is involved in terrorist activity overseas,” a senior defense official said.

Following Monday’s attacks in Tbilisi and New Delhi, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman all pinned the blame squarely on Iran.

Government officials said they would not have done so, risking losing credibility with India and Georgia, had they not been in possession of clear evidence implicating Tehran.

The government officials said Israel passed this information on to the relevant authorities.

Cabinet Secretary Tzvi Hauser told Israel Radio that “Israel will continue do defend Israelis wherever they are.”

Despite hints by Liberman and other senior Israeli officials over the last two days that Israel would respond to the attacks, Netanyahu did not convene his eight senior ministers – known as the septet – or the security cabinet to discuss the incidents. Some observers interpreted this as a sign that no large-scale military operation – perhaps against Hezbollah – is being considered.

Hauser said that if Iran, which has a rich track record of carrying out terrorist attacks on foreign soil, is perpetrating such attacks now, “we can only imagine what it will do” if it brings its nuclear program to fruition.

“This is a problem not only for Israel, but the whole world,” he said.

Reuters contributed to the report.

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