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Israel says Bangkok, Delhi, and Tbilisi attacks all linked – to Iran

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Kerek Wongsa/Reuters

(Read caption) A policeman uses his mobile phone to take a photograph at the site of an explosion in the Ekamai area in central Bangkok on Feb. 15. Thai investigators believe they have found a link between this week's bomb blasts in Bangkok and New Delhi, a senior security official said on Wednesday, two of three attacks Israel has blamed on Iran.

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The Israeli ambassador to Bangkok said today that bombs discovered in a house in Thailand were similar to those used in India and Georgia earlier this week, implying a link between the three attacks that Israel has blamed on Iran.

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The Thai police said it was too early to draw links, The New York Times reports. After yesterday’s attacks, they caught two men carrying Iranian passports. They are still searching for two other suspects, whom they also believe are Iranian. One of them is said to have fled to Malaysia.

Itzhak Shoham, the Israeli ambassador, said the devices found in Bangkok were similar to the explosives used in New Delhi and Tbilisi, Georgia and had magnets that would allow them to be attached to metal objects. In both New Delhi and Tbilisi they were affixed to cars.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday at the Knesset that Iran is “undermining the world’s stability,” Haaretz reports.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Israel’s allegations were “baseless” and accused Israel of “trying to damage its relations with Thailand and fuel ‘conspiracy’ theories,” the Associated Press reports.

Will Hartley, the editor of Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center in London, said the attacks were all “highly amateurish” and lacked the “sophistication” of a typical operation by either Hezbollah or Iran’s Quds Force, according to The New York Times.

In yesterday’s Bangkok attack, one bomb went off accidentally in a home and another shortly afterward while a man was carrying it. The day before, a bomb wrecked the car carrying an Israeli diplomat’s wife in New Delhi, injuring her and the driver. An attempted attack in Tbilisi was thwarted when the bomb was spotted and defused.

Thai National Security Council head Wichean Potephosree said the type of explosives indicated that the targets were individuals, not buildings or large crowds, according to AP.

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CBS News reports that Israel's Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch implied the state would seek revenge for this week’s attacks.

"We know who carried out the terror attacks, we know who sent them, and Israel will settle the score with them," Mr. Aharonovitch said on Israel Radio. Israel’s Channel 10 TV quoted unnamed Thai officials as saying that the men captured in Bangkok confessed to targeting Israeli “interests,” according to CBS.

The attacks come amid weeks of heated talk about the possibility of an Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, which Israel says are being used to develop nuclear weapons that could target Israel. Iran denies the charge.

Against that backdrop, these attacks come at a dangerous time, writes Jackson Diehl, editorial page editor for The Washington Post. If Iran is indeed behind them, it is taking a huge risk – not just politically, but economically. India, as the largest buyer of Iranian oil and the supplier of a vast amount of Iran’s rice imports, is a critical ally, particularly in light of recent sanctions.

The bomb in New Delhi will escalate tensions at a time when Israel is said to be considering a full-scale military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. But it could also endanger a vital economic lifeline for Tehran. That Iran would risk a strike in such a sensitive place suggests that its leaders are panicked.