Iranian cell planning attack on Israelis arrested in Azerbaijan

As more evidence accumulated this week of Iranian attempts to attack Israeli targets from Thailand to Azerbaijan, the Indian government has tried to play down the Iranian involvement in the bombing last week that wounded the wife of an Israeli diplomat.

On Tuesday, officials in Baku announced that the Azeri security forces had arrested a terror cell directed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force that had been planning to carry out attacks on the Israeli embassy and Jewish cultural centre.

Members of the cell had reportedly smuggled explosives, detonators and transmitters into the country. Last year, Mossad and the Azeri security forces co-operated to foil an assassination attempt on the Israeli ambassador to Baku.

The arrests in Azerbaijan came after a similar operation by the security forces in Thailand which arrested Iranian citizens and a cache of explosives before attacks were carried out. They also follow the discovery of a bomb in Georgia underneath a car belonging an employee of the Israeli embassy, and the explosion of a car in New Delhi, which wounded Tal Yehoshua Koren, the wife of an Israeli defence attache to India. Israeli representatives around the world have been warned about future attacks.

The accumulating evidence of Iranian involvement has not changed the official stance of the Indian government, which is still referring to New Delhi attack as a local incident and not connected to an Iranian network.

Iran is one of India's major trading partners and despite the US and European sanctions, India says it intends to continue purchasing most of its oil from Iran.

Meanwhile, this week Iran sent a destroyer and a supply ship through the Suez Canal and into the Mediterranean. Iranian news agencies reported that the ships were to dock in the port of Tartus and assist the Syrian Navy with training, apparently boosting Iran's commitment to its embattled ally, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

But the Pentagon in Washington said that there was no indication that the ships ever docked in Syria.

Last updated: 2:04pm, February 23 2012