Israel: global terror wave has just begun

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 16, 2012
Amazing escape: Yehousua-Koren

Amazing escape: Yehousua-Koren

Israeli intelligence believes that Iran and Hizbollah will make more attempts to attack Israeli representatives and targets around the world over the next few months.

The assessment of the three attempted hits this week in Georgia, India and Thailand is that they are all connected to Iran's terror network.

Israel's ambassador to Thailand, Yitzhak Shoham, said on Wednesday that the bombs used and intended for use in Bangkok were similar to those planted on cars belonging to the Israeli embassies in Tbilisi and New Delhi.

The Bangkok devices were found by police in a house shortly after the premature explosion that severely wounded an Iranian operative in the city.

The Tbilisi bomb was discovered before it went off; in Delhi, a bomb attached to a car exploded, wounding Tal Yehoshua-Koren, the wife of an Israeli diplomat. Mr Shoham said that the staff of the Israeli embassy had been the targets of the cell whose members were arrested on Tuesday. He added: "We can assume that this was the work of one terror network."

The car that carried the wife of Israel’s defence attaché burns after the attack in New Delhi

The car that carried the wife of Israel’s defence attaché burns after the attack in New Delhi

Israeli intelligence has been warning for several months about an upswing in attempts by Iran and Hizbollah to attack Israeli targets around the world. And, despite the arrest of a Hizbollah-linked cell three weeks ago in Bangkok which had stockpiled a large store of chemicals to be used to manufacture explosives, there was no specific intelligence on the three attempts this week.

Sunday was the fourth anniversary of the assassination of Hizbollah operations chief Imad Mughniyeh and, while no one has ever taken credit for his killing, it is widely attributed to Israel - and Hizbollah has sworn revenge. And following the recent assassinations of Iranian nuclear experts and explosions at various key strategic sites in Iran, all-round motivation has grown.

Over the past three years, Israel's intelligence services have detected more than 20 plans to attack Israeli representatives and diplomatic personnel around the world. All were prevented with the help of local security forces.

Before the attempts this week, only one attack had actually taken place. Two years ago in Jordan, two cars carrying Israeli embassy employees were shot at. There were no casualties. "Hizbollah and Iran have been carefully calibrating these attacks," says a high-ranking Israeli security official. "They want to make sure that we don't retaliate heavily. On the other hand, they have a need to show their people that they can take the war back to Israel, even if they won't actually take credit for an attack. They will certainly keep on trying."

Over the five years since the Second Lebanon War, Hizbollah has not fired a shot at Israel. The Shia movement is under strict orders from Tehran not to jeopardise the tens of thousands of missiles, supplied by Iran through Syria. These are in place for retaliation if Israel attacks Iran's nuclear installations.

Most of the foiled attacks have not been publicised, although it is known that security forces in Azerbaijan and Bulgaria have acted on Israeli information to arrest suspected cell members. Other attempts were planned in Western Europe and Latin America, while Iranians who were arrested four months ago in the US over an alleged attempt to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington had also been planning an attack on the Israeli embassy there. While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Iran of being behind the attacks, the Tehran regime has denied any involvement.

"This time we didn't succeed but neither did they, probably because the Iranians are more eager than ever to retaliate after the mysterious explosions and assassinations that they are seeing all around them in Iran," said a veteran Israeli defence official.

Last updated: 1:36pm, February 16 2012