News | India Seeks 3 Iranians in New Delhi Attack, Declares Link to Thai Blast
by DAN GEIST
17 Mar 2012 03:00
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Iran Standard Time (IRST), GMT+3:303 a.m., 27 Esfand/March 17 Indian police announced Friday that they have issued arrest warrants for three Iranian nationals suspected of involvement in the February 13 bomb attack on a car registered to the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi. The three men -- identified as Houshang Afshar Irani, Seyyed Ali Mehdian Sadr, and Mohammad Reza Abolghasemi -- reportedly arrived in the Indian capital about two weeks before the attack, which injured four people, including the wife of an Israeli military attaché. Mehdian Sadr and Abolghasemi apparently left the country right before the bombing, while Irani flew to Malaysia just hours afterward.
Last week, Indian authorities revealed that Syed Mohammed Ahmad Kazmi, an Indian national employed by an Iranian news agency, had been arrested on charges of collaborating in the attack, in which a motorcyclist attached a "sticky bomb" to the rear of the Israeli Embassy vehicle. On the same day as the New Delhi blast, a similar attempt to bomb an Israeli diplomat's car in Tbilisi, Georgia, was thwarted. The following day, a large explosion in the Thai capital of Bangkok damaged a house that was evidently being used by its three Iranian occupants as a bomb factory; two of those men, Saeid Moradi and Mohammad Kharzei, are currently in Thai custody, while the third, Masoud Sedaghatzadeh, is being held in Malaysia awaiting the outcome of extradition proceedings. The Indian police also announced Friday that telephone records show that Irani and Sedaghatzadeh were in regular communication with each other and that they suspect Sedaghatzadeh was in charge of both the New Delhi and Bangkok bomb plots.
The Los Angeles Times summarizes the case presented by the Indian police:
Kazmi traveled twice last year to Iran at Mehdian's request, where he also met Reza, agreed to assist the Iranians and received $5,500.
The Iranians then instructed Kazmi to help Irani when he traveled to Delhi, which he did. In India, the pair discussed plans to carry out the attack, reconnoitering near the Israeli Embassy and a nearby area on a motor scooter that Irani purchased. After he left, Kazmi kept the motorcycle at his house.
Mehdian and Reza also traveled to India for reconnaissance of the embassy with a particular focus on the routes commonly used by Israeli diplomats. This was done in Kazmi's vehicle, a Maruti Alto. [...]
In addition to the Maruti and the motor scooter, police said they have recovered $1,250 at Kazmi's house, a laptop computer and an Iranian mobile telephone card.
According to the New York Times,
Mr. Kazmi's family has flatly rejected the charges against him and accused the police of falsely implicating him because of his work as a journalist, in which he wrote about the mistreatment of Muslims in India. [...]
On Friday afternoon, more than 100 people gathered in New Delhi for a protest rally and demanded that the police release Mr. Kazmi. His son, Shauzab Kazmi, 22, called the charges "completely baseless." [...]
Officials at the Iranian Embassy [in New Delhi] declined to comment on the case. Mr. Kazmi's son, though, sharply criticized the police and disputed that the seized scooter and Maruti represented evidence.
"That scooter was parked at our house for the last two years," he said. "When police claimed to recover it, it was not in working condition. They had to drag it away."
Asked how police could prove the link between Kazmi and Mehdian Sadr, reports Zee News, Delhi Police Commissioner Brijesh Gupta said, "The return ticket of Mehdian was booked by Kazmi and documents to this effect ha[ve] been seized from the concerned travel agency." The commissioner added that Kazmi and his wife had received approximately $45,000 in foreign remittances for which "there is no satisfactory explanation."
The Indian Express details the connection Indian authorities have now made between the New Delhi and Bangkok operations:
[An] Iranian suspect in the Delhi case, Houshang Afshar Irani, was reportedly in regular touch with one of the members of the "Bangkok module" arrested in Malaysia, Sedghatzadeh Masoud. It was while tracking the phone calls between them that investigators reportedly stumbled upon Urdu journalist Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi, who was in touch with Irani. [...]
The police believe it was Irani who attached explosives to the vehicle of the Israeli diplomat in Delhi, leaving her seriously injured. Hours after the blast in Delhi, Irani left for Malaysia on February 13 from the Indira Gandhi International Airport. Masoud was arrested in Malaysia on February 15. He was part of the group that was allegedly trying to target Israeli nationals in Bangkok when they accidentally blew up the house they were building a bomb in, a day after the Delhi attack. [...]
While the Delhi Police had earlier obtained warrants against three other Iranians, including Irani, today they also got an NBW [non-bailable warrant] against Masoud.
"With the help of intelligence agencies we got details of three men of Iranian origin involved in the botched terror attempt in Bangkok. While two men were arrested in Bangkok, the third suspect (Masoud) was detained at the Kuala Lumpur airport in Malaysia. The same module was operational in Delhi and it was being controlled by Masoud," said a senior police officer.
Extradition proceedings that could result in Sedaghatzadeh being sent back to Thailand for prosecution began Thursday in a Malaysian court. Denying any involvement with the Bangkok explosion, he asked the judge, "Why am I here? I have nothing to do with this case."
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