News24

Thailand: Iran planned Israeli attack

2012-02-16 19:53

Bangkok - Three Iranians detained after accidentally setting off explosives in Bangkok were planning to attack Israeli diplomats, Thailand's top police officer said on Thursday in the first confirmation by local officials that the group was plotting attacks in Thailand.

The allegation came after days of strong accusations by Israel that Iran was behind the botched plot as well as two others in India and the former Soviet republic of Georgia this week. Iran has denied the charges.

Citing the similarity of bombs used in New Delhi and Tbilisi, national police chief General Prewpan Dhamapong said that Thai authorities now "know for certain that [the target] was Israeli diplomats".

"This issue was about individuals and the targets were specific," he said. "This was something personal."

Israel has accused Iran of waging a covert campaign of state terror and has threatened military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Iran has blamed the Jewish state for the recent killings of Iranian atomic scientists and has denied responsibility for all three bomb plots, including an explosion Monday in New Delhi that tore through an Israeli diplomatic vehicle, wounding the driver and a diplomat's wife, and a foiled attempt the same day in Georgia.

Speaking in an interview with Israel Radio during a trip to Japan, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said: "It's clearer to more and more of the world that Iran, which is a veteran sponsor of terror, is trying to raise the bar even more, trying to harm diplomats around the world."

Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said security had been stepped up for its diplomatic staff abroad.

"Obviously, security is of the essence at times like this," Palmor said. "We are taking whatever measures are required to ensure that life and work can go on as usual."

Partially confessed

The plot in Bangkok was discovered on Tuesday only by accident, when explosives stored in a house occupied by several Iranian men blew up by mistake.

One of the Iranians, Mohammad Kharzei, was paraded before journalists on Thursday wearing a striped short-sleeve shirt, his apparently handcuffed hands covered by a dark sheet.

Prewpan said Kharzei had "partially confessed" and had acknowledged knowing one of the other suspects, Saeid Moradi, whose leg was sheered off by an explosive he was carrying as he fled police in the Thai capital's busy Sukhumvit Road area.

Surveillance video released by police already links the suspects: it shows them leaving their destroyed house just after the first blast. Moradi was the last to exit, and as he walked out with a heavy backpack over his shoulder, a small crowd that had begun to gather backed away, clearly terrified.

Kharzei, grim-faced, did not speak as he stood before reporters, but Prewpan described him as "stressed out" and another official said he was having trouble eating.

The third Iranian, Masoud Sedaghatzadeh, was detained in Malaysia and the country's federal police spokesperson, Ramli Yoosuf, said he was being investigated for terrorism-related activities linked to the Bangkok blasts. The official could not say whether Sedaghatzadeh would be extradited to Thailand.

A Bangkok court has approved arrest warrants for all three suspects, as well as an Iranian woman named Leila Rohani who rented the destroyed house. However, Rohani has left Thailand and is now in Tehran, according to the top immigration police official, Wiboon Bangthamai.

All four now face criminal charges including possession of explosives, attempted murder, attempted murder of a policeman and causing explosions that damaged property. Prewpan said he believed there already was enough evidence to prosecute them.

Denials last month

The Israeli ambassador to Thailand, Itzhak Shoham, declined to comment on reports his staff had been specifically targeted. He said the Israeli Embassy was open and functioning as normal.

Shoham told The Associated Press earlier this week, however, that the similarity of the bombs found in Bangkok and New Delhi had led Israel to believe the plots were linked.

Prewpan also said that two homemade "sticky" bombs found at the blast site on Tuesday matched the devices planted on Israeli diplomatic cars in India and Georgia a day earlier.

Thailand's acknowledgement that terror attacks were being planned on its soil stood in contrast to its denials of that last month, when police arrested a Lebanese-Swedish man with alleged links to Hezbollah.

At the time, authorities insisted Thailand was only being used as a staging ground for attacks, but was not the target. The man led police to a warehouse near Bangkok packed with more than 4 000kg of urea fertilizer and other materials that could be used to make bombs.

After that incident, Israel and the United States warned their citizens to be alert. The US Embassy said foreign terrorists may have been looking to attack tourist areas in Bangkok and Thai media reported the attacks were aimed at Israeli targets, including the Israeli Embassy.

Thai officials say it is not clear if the two incidents are connected.

Comments
  • Fidel - 2012-02-16 20:16

    There is nothing in the article that is any close to Thailand blaming Iran for these attempted terror attacks. The Editor of News24 is mischievious in linking the STATE of Iran to these would be terrorist attacks. A Nigerian Islamist is being sentenced in the US for attempted terror attacks but Nigeria is not being named as being complicit to this attack. I just had a supper with roast lamb and mash patotoes. The real mystery, what the News24 editorial staff were doing? I have an idea, but unfortunately it cannot be publicly expressed.

      Dirk - 2012-02-16 20:23

      Correction- the islamic terrorst state. I guess the "iranian gentleman was walking his dogs in Bangkok, minding his business, when an Israeli terrorist chopped off his legs with a panga?

      Fred - 2012-02-16 20:31

      "Iran has denied the charges" which implies that Thailand believes the Iranian regime was behibd the plots, and has communicated this to Iran.

      Fidel - 2012-02-16 20:38

      It is Israhell that is spreading the accusation, the Thai government hasn't accused Iran of anything, other than the would be terrorist being Iranian citizens.

      Fred - 2012-02-16 20:49

      Yes, the article is misleading in that regard.

      ISO - 2012-02-16 20:50

      In-fidel

  • Egsaan - 2012-02-16 20:26

    here we go again . iran bieng set for having weapons os mass destruction ...the US used it and the Zionist have it. Publish this new24

      Fred - 2012-02-16 20:29

      Simple, childish thinking.

      Leon - 2012-02-16 20:55

      well I don't here you shouting viva hitler you can thank the USA for that well shut your mouth and eat your pork

  • Fidel - 2012-02-16 21:04

    There was no Iranian passport found in Delhi but still it was Iran who was the culprit. Israeli operatives used fake passports to engage in state terror attacks in Dubai in 2010. There's a group called Indian Mujahideen, which is unrelated to Iran and which is opposed to India's relations with Israel. There are several other such groups that support the Palestinian cause and that have targeted India before. There are Islamist all over the world who wouldn't think twice about hurting Israel. Netanyahu annouced in Tel Aviv that Iran is the culprit before any Indian investigator could reach to the scene of Delhi blast...How does he know ?

      Jaba - 2012-02-16 21:37

      there were no Israeli passports left in Dubai. so it wasn't Israel - it must have been the PA getting rid of a powerful Hamas financier. if you remember back then - Hamas officials were throwing Palestinian Authority members out of the top floors of Gaza buildings. the Islamic-Indian terror group did not order this attack - Iran did, they declared they would 2 months ago, and they have kept that promise. both India, Georgia and Thailand agree it was Iran - if you have a problem with that, you can take it up with the respective secrete service. The failed plot in Thailand gives all the answers the Thai police require...and this will conclude with a few Iranians in for life- and jail in Thailand is worse than hell.

      Fidel - 2012-02-16 22:14

      Shallow propaganda and a textbook case of argumentum ad ignorantiam! In Dubai assasination British, French, Irish and German passports etc were used, so those countries wwere involved in the terror assasination ?

      Jaba - 2012-02-17 08:06

      I finally agree with you fidler. Must have been the British, French, Irish and German who killed the terrorist.

  • Che - 2012-02-17 09:43

    Achmad how did you get caught ? Premature detonation.. he he

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