Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

While Israel Blames Iran for India, Georgia Bombings, U.S. More Reserved

Israel and many of its U.S. backers have blamed Iran for the attacks on Israeli diplomats in New Delhi and Tbilisi. But the U.S. government isn’t so sure.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

 

Inter Press Service

While Israel and its allies in the United States blamed Iran for Monday's two nearly simultaneous car bomb incidents in the capitals of India and Georgia, the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama echoed local authorities in both countries who said they were not sure who the perpetrators were.

"I don't have an assessment to give you of what the Israeli government is saying," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters in Washington. 

"We have no information yet to share with you about who was behind those attacks, but we're obviously working and discussing with the Israelis and others to ascertain exactly that," he added. 

Independent analysts in Washington also professed uncertainty about responsibility for the bombings. 

Some said Iran, which had vowed last month to retaliate for the assassination, reportedly by Israel's spy agency, Mossad, of an Iranian nuclear scientist in Tehran, was the most likely candidate. 

Others suggested that Lashkar-e Taiba (LeT), a Pakistani terrorist group which carried out the 2008 bombings in Mumbai, India, also had to be considered a major suspect for the attack in New Delhi, which sent the wife of the Israeli Embassy's military attaché to the hospital. After surgery to remove bits of shrapnel from the bomb, she was released late Monday, according to news reports. 

The Indian government has promised Israel a thorough investigation of the blast that injured the woman and several other people. According to reports, an explosive device was placed on her car by a motorcyclist while it was stopped at a red light close to the Israeli embassy. 

At nearly the same time, in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, a similar device, described by some reports as a grenade, was found attached to a car owned by one of the Israeli embassy's local drivers and dismantled before it could be detonated. 

A spokesman for the Georgian Interior Ministry, Shota Khizanishvili, told reporters that the incident may have been linked to the driver's personal life rather than his work at the embassy, according to the Russian news agency Interfax. 

Coming so soon after the Jan 11 killing – also by a bomb attached by a motorcyclist to a car – of the Iranian nuclear scientist, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, the two attacks appeared to many that Tehran was trying to take the revenge it had promised. 

Roshan was the fourth Iranian scientist to be killed in this way in the last two years. NBC News quoted senior U.S. officials last week as confirming that the assassination campaign has been organised by Israel's Mossad working with the Mojahedin-e-Khalq, an Iraq-based Iranian group that the U.S. lists as a terrorist organisation. 

"In recent months we have witnessed several attempts to attack Israeli citizens and Jews in several countries, including Azerbaijan, Thailand and others," Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu charged Monday. "…Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah, were behind all of these attempted attacks," he said. 

Tehran called Israel's charges "sheer lies" and suggested that Israel itself may have been responsible as part of its "psychological warfare" against Iran. 

Israeli officials noted that Sunday marked the fourth anniversary of the assassination, also reportedly by Mossad, of Imad Mughiniyeh, one of the founders of Hezbollah, which, with Iran's help, began as a resistance movement against the Israeli occupation of Lebanon during the 1980s and 1990s. Mughniyah had been accused of planning and carrying out terrorist attacks on Jewish and Israeli targets at Iran's behest throughout the Middle East and even in Argentina. 

Indian officials, meanwhile, did not rule out involvement of the LeT, which has been linked to Al-Qaeda and Pakistan's military intelligence. Among the 164 people killed in its Mumbai attack were six people at Nariman House, a Chabad religious centre that catered to Israelis and visiting Jews from Western countries. Investigators concluded that the centre was a specific target of the LeT attack. 

Since the fall of 2009, Israel has issued travel warning to its citizens visiting India, a popular destination with Israelis: "The terror group that carried out the 2008 Mumbai attack can conduct a number of attacks across India, including on the concentration of Western tourists and Israelis and may also attack Chabad houses." 

Early reports on several Indian news sites said that "low grade explosive material, including sulphur and potassium chlorate with sulphuric acid," had been used to detonate Monday's explosion. These early reports also noted that Abdul Karim Tunda, said to be affiliated with the LeT, used this method in late 1990s and early 2000s to set off explosions in various parts of India. 

As of Monday night, however, the explosives used in the attack had not been positively identified, according to Delhi Police Commissioner B. K. Gupta. 

The Times of India reported early Tuesday morning that the bomb attached to the Israeli embassy vehicle by a magnet was the type that has been used in past terrorist operations in Iran, Israel, Georgia, Turkey and Armenia. The newspaper also reported that its manufacture was of a sophistication that had not been seen in India to date. 

U.S. experts on Iran and South Asia Monday said they were uncertain about who was responsible. 

"The Israelis have been very quick and categorical in blaming the Iranians; it's not an unreasonable charge," said Bruce Riedel, a former top CIA analyst on the Near East and South Asia, now at the Brookings Institution. 

"Israel and Iran have been engaged in a Spy vs. Spy war for years. This war has been getting hotter and hotter, with Israel's deep concern about Iran's nuclear programme," he told IPS. "What we're seeing now is a very dangerous game, getting more and more dangerous all the time." 

"It's not a cold war anymore," Riedel, who has advised the Obama administration on South Asia policy, went on, noting the assassinations of the Iranian scientists, as well as other efforts to sabotage Tehran's nuclear and missile programmes. "Iran and Hezbollah are fighting back, and want to show their ability to carry out simultaneous attacks." 

At the same time, he stressed, "There are a host of people who would like to see a war between Iran and Israel, particularly Al-Qaeda" with which LeT has been linked. 

Stephen Tankel, an expert on LeT at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, agreed that the perpetrators could be Iran, Hezbollah, or LeT. 

"Does Lashkar have an interest in targeting Israelis? Yes. Do Hezbollah (and Iran) have an interest in targeting Israelis? Yes and arguably more so," he told IPS. "Do both groups have transnational networks? Yes. 

Neither Hezbollah nor Lashkar-e-Taiba is previously known to have operated in Georgia. Tankel said, "I've not heard of Lashkar folks in Georgia, but that does not mean they're not there." 

"Gun to my head, I'd be more inclined to believe it was Hezbollah, but I wouldn't be shocked if it turned out I picked the wrong horse," says Tankel. "Remember, we're talking about two state-sponsored organisations that are pretty good at covering their tracks." 

Monday's incidents also coincided with the opening of the trial of Umar Patek in Jakarta, Indonesia. Patek, who is believed to be a member of another Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group, Jemaah Islamiah, is accused of masterminding the explosions that killed 202 people, most of them foreigners, at a night club and bar in Bali on 2002.

Jim Lobe is the Washington bureau chief of the Inter Press Service and a contributor to Right Web. His blog on U.S. foreign policy can be read at http://www.lobelog.com.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Former Vice President Dick Cheney was a leading framer of the “global war on terror” and a staunch supporter of aggressive U.S. military action around the world.


Mike Pompeo, the Trump administration’s second secretary of state, is a long time foreign policy hawk and has led the public charge for an aggressive policy toward Iran.


Right Web readers will be familiar with Mr. Fleitz, the former CIA officer who once threatened to take “legal action” against Right Web for publicizing reports of controversies he was associated with in the George W. Bush administration. Fleitz recently left his job at the conspiracy-mongering Center for Security Policy to become chief of staff to John Bolton at the National Security Council.


Norm Coleman is chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition and a former senator from Minnesota known for his hawkish views on foreign policy.


Billionaire hedge fund mogul Paul Singer is known for his predatory business practices and support for neoconservative causes.


Keith Kellogg, national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, is a passionate supporter of Trump’s foreign policy.


Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the largest “pro-Israel” advocacy group in the United States, is known for its zealous Christian Zionism and its growing influence in the Republican Party.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Trumpian new regional order in the Middle East is predicated on strongman rule, disregard for human rights, Sunni primacy over Iran and other Shia centers of power, continued military support for pro-American warring parties regardless of the unlawfulness of such wars, and Israeli hegemony.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A comparison of U.S. nuclear diplomacy with Iran and the current version with North Korea puts the former in a good light and makes the latter look disappointing. Those with an interest in curbing the dangers of proliferating nuclear weapons should hope that the North Korea picture will improve with time. But whether it does or not, the process has put into perspective how badly mistaken was the Trump administration’s trashing of the Iran nuclear agreement.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Numerous high profile Trump administration officials maintain close ties with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists. In today’s America, disparaging Islam is acceptable in ways that disparaging other religions is not. Given the continuing well-funded campaigns by the Islamophobes and continuing support from their enablers in the Trump administration, starting with the president himself, it seems unlikely that this trend will be reversed any time soon.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Trump administration’s nuclear proliferation policy is now in meltdown, one which no threat of “steely resolve”—in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s words—will easily contain. It is hemorrhaging in part because the administration has yet to forge a strategy that consistently and credibly signals a feasible bottom line that includes living with—rather than destroying—regimes it despises or fears. Political leaders on both sides of the aisle must call for a new model that has some reasonable hope of restraining America’s foes and bringing security to its Middle East allies.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Congressional midterm elections are just months away and another presidential election already looms. Who will be the political leader with the courage and presence of mind to declare: “Enough! Stop this madness!” Man or woman, straight or gay, black, brown, or white, that person will deserve the nation’s gratitude and the support of the electorate. Until that occurs, however, the American penchant for war will stretch on toward infinity.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

To bolster the president’s arguments for cutting back immigration, the administration recently released a fear-mongering report about future terrorist threats. Among the potential threats: a Sudanese national who, in 2016, “pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS”; an Uzbek who “posted a threat on an Uzbek-language website to kill President Obama in an act of martyrdom on behalf of ISIS”; a Syrian who, in a plea agreement, “admitted that he knew a member of ISIS and that while in Syria he participated in a battle against the Syrian regime, including shooting at others, in coordination with Al Nusrah,” an al-Qaeda offshoot.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The recent appointment of purveyors of anti-Muslim rhetoric to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom exposes the cynical approach Republicans have taken in promoting religious freedom.


RightWeb
share