NEW DELHI: The battle over
Iran's nuclear weapons programme reached India on Monday as an Israeli
diplomat's car was hit by a terror strike barely 200 metres from the
official residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The first open attack on an Israeli target in India coincided with an aborted strike against Israeli diplomats in Tbilisi, Georgia,
pointing to a marked escalation of hostilities between the Shiite
theocracy in Iran, which is defiant about pursuing its nuclear
programme, and Israel, the US as well as the Sunni Arab world who are
equally determined to stop it.
On Monday afternoon, a motorcycle-borne youth tailed an Israeli embassy
vehicle on Aurangzeb Road in the high security zone in New Delhi, close
to the PM's residence, and allegedly placed "something" on the rear of
the car when it stopped at a traffic signal at the intersection of
Aurangzeb Road and Safdarjung Road in the Capital's high-security zone.
Seconds later, there was an explosion and the Toyota Innova car,
bearing registration number 109 CD 35, went up in flames. Three persons
including the Israeli defence attache's wife Tal Yehoshua Korene, who
was going to pick up her children from the American Embassy School, were injured.
Investigators later got a crucial clue to the assailant in the footage
from two CCTV cameras installed at industrialist Analjit Singh's 15,
Aurangzeb Road residence. The bomber, in brown jacket on a motor cycle,
is seen tailing the embassy car at 3.10 pm at a distance of 2-3 seconds.
The cameras could not capture the registration number of the bike.
The victim was in a critical condition, having suffered serious spinal
injuries from shrapnel in the device that seemed to contain
The first terror strike involving the use of
magnetic bomb mirrored the one that killed Iranian nuclear scientist
Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan on January 11, when a small magnetic bomb was
planted on his vehicle by two terrorists on a motorcycle. Four Iranian
nuclear scientists have been killed in attacks in the past two years.
Indian authorities remained tight-lipped about the source of the attack.
However, Israel was categorical in blaming Iran. In an angry reaction, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
said, "Iran is behind these attacks; it is the largest exporter of
terrorism in the world." He further said, "In recent months, we have
witnessed several attempts to attack Israeli citizens and Jews in
several countries, including Azerbaijan, Thailand and others. Iran and its proxy Hezbollah were behind all of these attempted attacks."
The charge was refuted by a foreign ministry spokesperson in Tehran.
"We categorically reject the accusations made by the Zionist regime.
They are part of a propaganda war," the spokesperson said.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, Indian intelligence sources
suspected an Iranian connection to the magnetic bomb attack which they
feel could be a retaliation against the covert attempts to thwart the
Shiite regime's relentless pursuit of a nuclear programme which the West
as well as Sunni Muslim countries are convinced is meant to equip the
theocracy with nuclear weapons.
Sources also said Israel had
recently confided in Indians their fears of Israeli targets coming under
attack from Iranian sympathizers. Sources in Delhi Police
did not rule out the possibility of Iranian sympathizers enlisting the
modules of Lashkar, who despite their loathing of Shias, are unremitting
in their animosity towards Israel.
In the past two years, four
Iranian scientists have been mysteriously assassinated, 3 of them in
attacks where motorcycle-borne assailants stuck magnetic bombs to their
cars. The only one to survive the attacks targeting nuclear scientists
so far is Fereydoun Abbasi, now the head of Iran's atomic energy
organization. He jumped away from his car seconds before it burst in
November 2010. On the same day, another Iranian scientist, Majid
Shahriari, was killed in an attack in Tehran. An attack in July 2011
killed an electronics student who some reports claimed was working on
In November 2011,17 elite Revolutionary
Guards personnel including Maj Gen Hassan Moghaddam, believed to be head
of Iran's missile programme, died in an explosion at an Iranian missile
Besides, a computer virus Stuxnet attacked Iran's
centrifuges over the past year and half, sending many of them spinning
out of control. While nobody is completely clear about the damage it has
caused, it is generally believed that Stuxnet has delayed the Iranian
programme significantly. Some experts recently claimed that the worm had
attacked the Bushehr reactor which could suffer a meltdown once its
Israel is also suspected to have infiltrated
the network of suppliers from whom Iran could clandestinely source
components for its nuclear programme. As a result, Iran have received
While the masterminds of the covert
operations have successfully covered their tracks, Iran has held Israel
and the US for the sabotage. Iran's supreme religious leader Ali Khamenei has been quoted in reports saying that Iran would "support anybody globally who takes action against the Zionist entity".
Last week, Yoram Cohen, head of Israel's Shin Bet security service, was quoted by Israeli media Haaretz
as saying that Iran was working hard across the world through the
Iranian Revolutionary Guards to hit Israeli targets. "Over the past year
three serious attacks were thwarted that were on the verge of being
carried out," the Shin Bet head said. "In Turkey against the general consul in Istanbul; in Baku, Azerbaijan; and two weeks ago in Thailand."
Reacting to the first alleged Iranian retaliatory strike on Indian
soil, Alon Ushpiz, Israel ambassador told TOI, "This is a grave evening.
Our hearts and minds are with this lady who is still undergoing
surgery. It is inconceivable that the Iranian terrorist supporting
regime will perpetrate this terror attack in the heart of New Delhi, the
world's largest democracy. We are grateful for cooperation and sympathy
from the Indian leadership and we have full confidence in the Indian
Foreign minister S M Krishna, who spoke to his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman,
said, "India very strongly condemns such incidents and it is going to
be fully investigated and the culprits will be brought to justice at the
earliest. I have just spoken to the Israeli foreign minister and I have
reassured the Israeli foreign minister that the law of the land will
take its course. The investigation has already started and we will
continue with it and then keep him posted as and when we get progress
report of the investigation."
In the aftermath of the suspected
terror attack the Centre today ordered tightening of security in
diplomatic missions, especially of Israel, the US and other western
countries, located across the country.
Speaking in Tel Aviv
last week, Shin Bet's Cohen said that Iran believes Israel is behind
the attacks on its nuclear experts, which have killed four scientists
since November 2010. "It doesn't matter if it's true or not that Israel
took out the nuclear scientists," Cohen said. "A major, serious country
like Iran cannot let this go on. They want to deter Israel and extract a
price so that decision makers in Israel think twice before they order
an attack on an Iranian scientist."
Iran is locked in a global
battle on its nuclear programme, which is opposed by almost everybody in
the world. India and China, while not part of the current sanctions
regime have also openly opposed the nuclear programme. India has voted
three times against the Iranian programme in the IAEA, though it is
against sanctions. Although Iran insists it is for peaceful purposes,
few believe that this is anything but a military programme.
Western countries have slapped tough economic sanctions against Iran,
including the main drivers of its economy, oil and gas. These sanctions
have made it difficult for India to pay for the oil it imports from
Iran. Iran has lashed out against the world on the sanctions,
threatening to cut off the crucial Straits of Hormuz for oil
supplies.While there has been continued speculation about US and Israeli
attacks on Iran's nuclear facilities, the Sunni Arab world is ranged on
the side of the US, urging them to attack Iran.
An unfazed Iran has declared that its determined to go ahead with its nuclear programme.
The thwarted assassination plot of a Saudi official in Washington,
D.C., a couple of months ago was an important data point in that it
showed at least parts of the Iranian establishment were aware of the
intended event and were not concerned about inevitable collateral damage
to US citizens had they carried out an assassination plot on American
soil," he added. The letter said that Israeli bulletins have warned that
the country's own passports might be used by terrorists to carry out
In other words, a full-scale covert war is being
fought on the Iranian nuclear programme. Recent reports also alleged
that Israel's secret service was training Iranian dissidents linked to
the terrorist Mojahedin Khalq Organization to assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists. On Monday, this war reached India.
In: World News
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