February 15, 2012
Arrests made in New Delhi, Bangkok
Thai investigators believe they have found a link between this week’s bomb blasts in Bangkok and New Delhi, a senior security official said Wednesday, two of three attacks Israel has blamed on Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accusing Iran of targeting diplomats, said if the world did not stop Iran’s “aggression” the attacks would spread.
Iran, whose leaders had threatened to retaliate for Israel’s alleged car-bomb assassination of several of its nuclear scientists, denied involvement in the attacks Monday and Tuesday, including a bomb that failed to explode in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. Iran blamed them on Israel.
Asked whether the explosives used in India and Thailand were the same, a senior Thai security official said they both had the same “magnetic sheets.”
“The individual was in possession of the same magnets and we are currently examining the source of the magnet,” National Security Council Secretary Wichian Podphosri said.
A man carrying an Iranian passport lost a leg when a bomb he was carrying in Bangkok went off Tuesday after an earlier explosion, apparently accidental, at a house he was renting. His other leg had to be amputated.
The suspect, identified as Saeid Moradi, was in stable condition in a Bangkok hospital, although he remained unconscious after 10 hours of surgery, said hospital surgeon Suparung Preechayuth.
Police said he had been charged with illegal possession of explosives, causing explosions, attempted murder and assaulting a police officer. Two other men shared the rented house with him. One was arrested at Bangkok’s international airport on Tuesday but he has not yet been charged.
The other was arrested Wednesday afternoon at Kuala Lumpur airport as he tried to board a plane to Tehran, Malaysian police said. The suspect, in his 30s, had evaded authorities at Bangkok airport and flown to Malaysia.
Police inspector general Ismail Omar said he was arrested on intelligence from Thai authorities and was being investigated for “terrorism activities” related to the Bangkok bombings.
In the Bangkok attack, one bomb went off in the bombers’ home. Another was thrown at a taxi that wouldn’t take one of the men who left the house. The third blew off the man’s leg when he tried to throw it at police and it either went off before he could throw it or it hit something and ricocheted back at him.
The American, British and Australian embassies in Bangkok told their citizens to be vigilant in light of the explosions but did not advise against travel to the capital.
A day earlier in the Indian capital, a bomb wrecked a car taking an Israeli embassy official to pick up her children from school, police said. The woman was in stable condition on Wednesday after surgery to her spine and liver.
Her driver and two passers-by suffered lesser injuries in the attack.
On the same day, an attempt to bomb an Israeli embassy car in Tbilisi failed and the device was defused, Israeli and Georgian officials said.
Israel’s ambassador to Thailand said the bombings in Bangkok, New Delhi and Tiblisi bore similarities.
“If you put together all the details that we have until now, including the disclosure of the explosives, they are very similar, if not the same as that were used against our diplomats and our people in India and Georgia,” he told Thai TV.
Prime Minister Netanyahu told parliament that world must draw red lines to stop Iran.
“It harms innocent diplomats in many countries and the nations of the world must condemn Iran’s terror actions and demarcate red lines against Iranian aggression. If such aggression is not stopped it will spread to many countries.”
Iran dismissed the allegations, saying Israel often made such accusations.
“We are not accepting, we are denying this and I don’t know how they can assume within a short time of one hour that to say who has done this. It has happened in India. If India’s security says something like that then we have to verify,” Iran’s envoy to India, Seyed Mehdi Nabizadeh, told reporters.
Iranian state TV quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast as saying that Israel was behind the explosions.
“The main goal of the Zionist regime is to conceal its real essence in carrying out terrorist acts particularly assassinating Iran’s scientists,” the state news agency IRNA quoted Mehmanparast as saying.
Russia condemned the bomb attacks in India and Georgia and called on both countries to investigate but did not accuse Iran or any other country of involvement.
Moscow “decisively condemns these attacks by extremists,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We are convinced there can be no justification for terrorism in all its forms.”
Russia has close ties with Iran and built its first nuclear power plant, which began operating last year, but invariably condemns any attacks it considers terrorism.
India also refused to be drawn into the blame game, saying it did not have enough evidence to reach a firm conclusion.
“The Indian government does not have any evidence pointing to any individual, entity, organization or country being involved in Monday’s blast, so far,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.
Police said it was the first time that such an attack in which a motorbike rider attached an explosive device to a car with a magnet had been carried out in India.
India has good relations with both Iran and Israel, so the attack makes its diplomatic balancing act between the two countries all the more difficult and has thrust the mounting tension between the Middle East rivals on to its doorstep.
Israel is the second-largest supplier of arms to India. But India is Iran’s biggest oil buyer, relying on it for about 12 percent of its needs, and it is Iran’s top supplier of rice.
Trade between India and Iran is unlikely to be affected by the bombing in New Delhi, Indian’s commerce minister said after a trade a association chief said he feared wary exporters would back away from deals with Iran.
Additional reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat, Sinsiri Tiwutanond and Alan Raybould in Bangkok, John Chalmers in New Delhi and Dan Williams in JERUSALEM; Writing by Nick Macfie and Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Robert Birsel