Hezbollah leader denies links to recent attacks (AP) Associated Press) By BASSEM MROUE BEIRUT, Lebanon 02/16/12 2:24 pm ET)
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BEIRUT – Hezbollah´s leader says the Iranian-backed group has nothing
to do with this week´s attack on an Israeli diplomat in India, a
botched bomb plot in Thailand, or an attempted bombing in the former
Soviet republic of Georgia.
Sheik Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech Thursday to mark the 2008 death
of Imad Mughniyeh, a top Hezbollah military commander.
Israel has strongly accused Iran of being behind all three plots and
say Israeli diplomats were the targets.
Speaking by satellite link, Nasrallah said Hezbollah would still
avenge Mughniyeh´s death — and suggested this week´s plots were too
small to be the work of Hezbollah. He said targeting "soldiers or
Israeli diplomats or civilians" is "insulting for Hezbollah."
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further
information. AP´s earlier story is below.
BANGKOK (AP) — Three Iranians detained after accidentally setting off
explosives in Bangkok were planning to attack Israeli diplomats,
Thailand´s top policeman said Thursday in the first confirmation by
local officials that the group was plotting attacks in Thailand.
Israel has strongly accused Iran of being behind the botched plot, a
bombing in India and an attempted bombing in the former Soviet
republic of Georgia this week, which Iran has denied.
Citing the similarity of bombs used in New Delhi and Tbilisi,
national police chief Gen. Prewpan Dhamapong said that Thai
authorities now "know for certain that (the target) was Israeli
"This issue was about individuals and the targets were specific," he
said. "This was something personal."
Israel has accused Iran of waging a covert campaign of state terror
and has threatened military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.
Iran has blamed the Jewish state for the recent killings of Iranian
atomic scientists and has denied responsibility for all three bomb
plots. The explosion Monday in New Delhi tore through an Israeli
diplomatic vehicle, wounding the driver and a diplomat´s wife, and an
attempt was foiled the same day in Georgia.
Speaking in an interview with Israel Radio during a trip to Japan,
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said: "It´s clearer to more and
more of the world that Iran, which is a veteran sponsor of terror, is
trying to raise the bar even more, trying to harm diplomats around
Israel´s U.N. ambassador said Thursday the Security Council should
condemn the attacks quickly.
"Israel expects it to issue a clear condemnation today, without any
further delay or equivocation," Ambassador Ron Prosor said in a
letter distributed by the Israeli mission.
"This campaign bears the unmistakable fingerprints of the Iranian
regime and the highest echelons of the Hezbollah leadership," his
letter said. "Their actions constitute a clear threat to the security
and stability of Lebanon, to the Middle East, and to the many
countries that have been targeted."
Israel´s Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said security had
been stepped up for its diplomatic staff abroad. "Security is of the
essence at times like this," Palmor said.
The plot in Bangkok was discovered when explosives in the men´s
rented house blew up by mistake Tuesday. One suspect, Mohammad
Kharzei, was paraded before journalists Thursday, his apparently
handcuffed hands covered by a dark sheet.
Prewpan said Kharzei had "partially confessed" and acknowledged
knowing another suspect, Saeid Moradi, whose leg was sheared off by
an explosion on a busy Bankgok street.
Surveillance video showed the three men leaving their destroyed house
just after the first blast. Moradi was the last to exit, and as he
walked out with a heavy backpack over his shoulder, a small crowd
that had begun to gather backed away, clearly terrified.
Kharzei, grim-faced, did not speak as he stood before reporters, but
Prewpan described him as "stressed out" and another official said he
was having trouble eating.
The third Iranian, Masoud Sedaghatzadeh, was detained in Malaysia and
was being investigated for terrorism-related activities linked to the
Bangkok blasts. Federal police there could not say whether
Sedaghatzadeh would be extradited to Thailand.
A Bangkok court has approved arrest warrants for all three suspects,
as well as an Iranian woman named Leila Rohani who rented the
destroyed house. However, Rohani has left Thailand and is now in
Tehran, according to the top immigration police official, Lt. Gen.
All four now face criminal charges including possession of
explosives, attempted murder, attempted murder of a policeman and
causing explosions that damaged property. Prewpan said he believed
there already was enough evidence to prosecute them.
The Israeli ambassador to Thailand, Itzhak Shoham, declined to
comment on reports his staff had been specifically targeted. He said
the Israeli Embassy was open and functioning as normal.
Shoham told The Associated Press earlier this week, however, that the
similarity of the bombs found in Bangkok and New Delhi had led Israel
to believe the plots were linked.
Prewpan also said that two homemade "sticky" bombs found at the blast
site Tuesday matched the devices planted on Israeli diplomatic cars
in India and Georgia a day earlier.
Thailand´s acknowledgment that terror attacks were being planned on
its soil stood in contrast to its denials last month, when police
arrested a Lebanese-Swedish man with alleged links to Hezbollah. At
the time, authorities insisted Thailand was only being used as a
staging ground for attacks, but was not the target. The man led
police to a warehouse where urea fertilizer and other materials that
could be used to make bombs were being stored.
After that incident, Israel and the United States warned their
citizens to be alert. The U.S. Embassy said foreign terrorists may
have been looking to attack tourist areas in Bangkok and Thai media
reported the attacks were aimed at Israeli targets, including the
Thai officials say it is not clear if the two incidents are
connected. ___ Associated Press writers Todd Pitman in Bangkok, Anita
Snow at the United Nations and Josef Federman in Jerusalem
contributed to this report. (© 2012 The Associated Press 02/16/12)
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