Israeli Leader: Iranian Aggression Must Be Halted

Published February 15, 2012 10:36AM (EST)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Iran is destabilizing the world and its aggression must be stopped.

At Israel's parliament on Wednesday, Netanyahu reiterated Israel's claims that Iran was behind explosions this week that targeted Israeli diplomats in India and the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

Netanyahu said, "If this aggression isn't halted, ultimately it will spread to many other countries."

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

BANGKOK (AP) — The homemade "sticky" bombs discovered in a Bangkok house after an accidental blast were similar to devices used against Israeli Embassy targets in India and Georgia, Israel's ambassador said Wednesday, building on his country's claims the incidents are part of a covert terror campaign by Iran.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast called the allegations "baseless," saying Israel was trying to damage its relations with Thailand and fuel "conspiracy" theories.

Thailand's government was struggling to piece together what a trio of Iranian men were plotting when a cache of explosives detonated by mistake in their home in Bangkok's busy Sukhumvit Road area a day earlier. Bomb disposal teams searched the Iranians' house again Wednesday looking for more evidence, while security forces were searching for an Iranian woman they said had originally rented it.

Two of the men were detained, and Thai immigration police chief Lt. Gen. Wiboon Bangthamai said a third suspect who fled the destroyed house escaped to Malaysia after boarding a flight bound for Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday night. He identified the man as Masoud Sedaghatzadeh, but had no other details.

Israel has accused Iran of waging a 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 plots this week.

On Monday in New Delhi, an explosion tore through an Israeli diplomatic vehicle, wounding the driver and a diplomat's wife, according to Indian officials. On the same day in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, authorities say attackers planted an explosive device on the car of a driver for the Israeli Embassy, but it was discovered and defused before it went off.

Israeli Ambassador to Thailand Itzhak Shoha told The Associated Press in an interview that after Tuesday's blasts Thai police found and defused two magnetic bombs that could be stuck on vehicles.

"They are similar to the ones used in Delhi and in Tbilisi," Shoham said. "From that we can assume that there is the same network of terror."

That and the arrest of the two Iranians in Thailand "again leaves not too much room to assume who was behind it," Shoham said.

Late Tuesday, Israel's Channel 10 TV quoted unidentified Thai authorities as saying the captured Iranians confessed to targeting Israeli interests.

Thai police have named the Iranian pair in custody as Saeid Moradi, who lost at least one leg in a self-inflicted grenade blast as he tried to flee police, and Mohummad Hazaei, who was detained Tuesday as he tried to board a flight to Malaysia.

Both men are now facing four criminal charges, including possession of explosives, attempted murder, attempted murder of a policeman and causing explosions that damaged property.

Top security agencies called a news conference in which authorities acknowledged to being caught by surprise and said they had little information about who the alleged attackers were or their possible targets.

National Security Council chief Wichean Potephosree said the government had not yet determined if there was any link between the events in Bangkok, New Delhi and Tbilisi.

"We haven't found any links but we are still investigating," Wichean said. "We admit there was magnetic component, aiming at individuals, but the origin of the magnets still has to be investigated."

When police searched the house, the bomb squad found and defused two explosives, each made of three or four pounds of C-4 explosives inside a pair of radios.

Wichean said that the type of explosives suggested they would have been used to target individuals.

"Based on the equipment and materials we found, they were aimed at individuals and the destruction capacity was not intended for large crowds or big buildings," Wichean said.

Wichean also acknowledged his nation could be "a weak link" for international terrorism "because we are open to foreigners."

Thailand itself has rarely been a target for international terrorists, but its main airport is a major hub for Asian air travel and its government — heavily reliant on tourism — is known for tolerance but criticized for corruption and graft.


Associated Press writers Ravi Nessman in New Delhi, Jocelyn Gecker in Bangkok and Ali Akbar Dareini in Tehran contributed to this report.

By Salon Staff

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