Iran Accused of Exporting Violence, With Attacks in Thailand, India and Georgia

By Patrick Goodenough | February 15, 2012 | 4:26 AM EST

A Thai explosive ordnance disposal official examines the site of a bomb blast in downtown Bangkok, Thailand on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

( – Iran has denied responsibility for a series of blasts Tuesday involving at least three Iranian nationals in the Thai capital, Bangkok, the latest in several attacks this week evidently targeting Israelis in foreign cities.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast condemned the violence, and said Israeli agents were often the perpetrators of such terrorist acts.

Iranian officials and lawmakers similarly accused Israel of being behind a bomb blast in India and an attempted bombing in Georgia, both on Monday and both targeting Israeli interests. Mehmanparast said Israel itself had carried out those attacks in order to tarnish Iran’s ties with the host governments as part of a campaign of “psychological warfare against Iran.”

Police in India, Georgia and Thailand are investigating the incidents, which Israel believes are linked – to Iran.

On Monday, the wife of the defense attaché at the  Israeli Embassy in New Delhi was seriously injured, and her Indian driver and two other people hurt, after a motorcyclist placed a bomb on her car at a traffic light. A similar explosive device was found on a car belonging to a staffer at the Israeli Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia, but safely defused.

Then on Tuesday, Iranian nationals were implicated in a series of blasts in a house they were renting in downtown Bangkok. One Iranian was arrested trying to board a flight out of the country, while another was apprehended after throwing several hand grenades, one of which blew off one of his legs. A hunt is underway for a third.

Although the Bangkok explosions did not conclusively target Israel, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said they provided further example of terrorism being perpetrated by “Iran and its proxies” – usually a reference to the Iranian-backed Lebanese terrorist group, Hezbollah.

The Bangkok Post on Wednesday quoted Thai police chief Gen. Priewpan Damapong as saying the targets of the Iranian suspects were “foreign nationals,” without elaborating.

Police found and defused two more explosive devices at the damaged property rented by the Iranians, and Defense Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat said the initial blasts had evidently occurred while “bad men were trying to assemble bombs.”

Priewpan said the bombs were fitted with magnets, enabling them to be attached to vehicles, the Thai News Agency reported.

The bombs used in New Delhi and Tbilisi on Monday were also equipped with magnets, according to Indian police officials and Georgia’s Interior Ministry.

The Israeli ambassador to Thailand, Itzhak Shoham, told the Associated Press that since the bombs found in Bangkok were similar to those used in India and Georgia, “We can assume that there is the same network of terror.”

Addressing a news conference Wednesday, national security council chief Wichean Potephosree said the blasts were “caused by current international tensions in world politics,” adding that it was “happening not only in Thailand.”

He also said that judging from the equipment found in the rented house, the intended targets were individuals, rather than buildings or large crowds.

(The Israeli Embassy is on the 15th floor of a 42-storey office building in downtown Bangkok, not far from the locations of Tuesday’s events.)

Indian police said they were hunting the motorcyclist involved in the Delhi bombing, and Israel has dispatched forensic specialists to help the investigation.

Georgian government officials said the probe there, being carried out in close cooperation with Israeli law enforcement, was being given the “highest priority.”

Thai police have set up a “war room” to investigate the Bangkok incidents and on Wednesday issued surveillance camera images of the third suspect, who remains at large.

Last month the U.S. and Israeli governments issued travel advisories warning of the possibility of terrorist attacks in Bangkok. Shortly beforehand, Thai police had arrested a Lebanese man, suspected of being a member of Hezbollah, as he tried to leave the country.

The suspect led police to a warehouse on the outskirts of the capital where they found quantities of fertilizer and liquid ammonium nitrate, materials that can be used to make bombs.

The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok issued a fresh advisory on Tuesday.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow