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


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

John Bolton, the controversial former U.S. ambassador to the UN and dyed-in the-wool foreign policy hawk, has been selected by President Trump to replace National Security Adviser McMaster, marking a sharp move to the hawkish extreme by the administration.

The Institute for the Study of War is a D.C.-based counterinsurgency think tank that has supported long-term U.S. military intervention in the Greater Middle East, especially Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) has been an outspoken proponent of militarist U.S. foreign polices and the use of torture, aping the views of her father, Dick Cheney.

United against Nuclear Iran is a pressure group that attacks companies doing business in Iran and disseminates alarmist reports about the country’s nuclear program.

Gina Haspel is a CIA officer who was nominated to head the agency by President Donald Trump in March 2018. She first came to prominence because of accusations that she oversaw the torture of prisoners and later destroyed video evidence of that torture.

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), President Trump’s nominee for secretary of state to replace Rex Tillerson, is a “tea party” Republican who previously served as director of the CIA.

Richard Goldberg is a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who served as a foreign policy aide to former Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL).

For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly

New NSA John Bolton represents an existential threat to the Iran nuclear deal and any hopes for peace in the region.

Print Friendly

Hardliners at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies are working overtime to convince the Trump administration to “fix” the nuclear agreement with Iran on the pretext that it will give the US leverage in negotiations with North Korea.

Print Friendly

North Korea and Iran both understand the lesson of Libya: Muammar Qaddafi, a horrifyingly brutal dictator, gave up his nuclear weapons, was eventually ousted from power with large-scale US assistance, and was killed. However, while Iran has a long and bitter history with the United States, North Korea’s outlook is shaped by its near-total destruction by forces led by the United States in the Korean War.

Print Friendly

Europe loathes having to choose between Tehran and Washington, and thus it will spare no efforts to avoid the choice. It might therefore opt for a middle road, trying to please both parties by persuading Trump to retain the accord and Iran to limit missile ballistic programs and regional activities.

Print Friendly

Key members of Trump’s cabinet should recognize the realism behind encouraging a Saudi- and Iranian-backed regional security agreement because the success of such an agreement would not only serve long-term U.S. interests, it could also have a positive impact on numerous conflicts in the Middle East.

Print Friendly

Given that Israel failed to defeat Hezbollah in its war in Lebanon in 2006, it’s difficult to imagine Israel succeeding in a war against both Hezbollah and its newfound regional network of Shiite allies. And at the same time not only is Hezbollah’s missile arsenal a lot larger and more dangerous than it was in 2006, but it has also gained vast experience alongside its allies in offensive operations against IS and similar groups.

Print Friendly

Donald Trump should never be excused of responsibility for tearing down the respect for truth, but a foundation for his flagrant falsifying is the fact that many people would rather be entertained, no matter how false is the source of their entertainment, than to confront truth that is boring or unsatisfying or that requires effort to understand.