No response from Tehran on requests for information on suspects, police say
Indian efforts to secure the arrest of Iranian suspects alleged to have been involved in a terrorist attack on an Israeli diplomat’s wife in February have drawn a blank, highly placed police and intelligence sources have told The Hindu.
Delhi Police investigators had visited Tehran early last month, seeking assistance to secure the arrest of several Iranian nationals they say were key actors in a February 13 bombing that left Tal Yehoshua-Koren seriously injured. Prosecutors have alleged that Tehran residents Houshang Afshar Irani, Syed Ali Mahdiansadr, Mohammad Reza Abolghasemi planned and executed the operation.
Police sources said, however, that they had yet to hear from the Iranians on the case. “The authorities in Tehran accepted the documents we gave them on the suspects, but offered no information at all,” a Delhi Police officer connected with the investigation told The Hindu. “Since then,” he added, “there has been absolutely no communication”.
Indian diplomatic sources in Bangkok told The Hindu they are likely to seek access to a fourth suspect sought by the Delhi Police, who is expected to be extradited to Thailand from Malaysia shortly.
Masoud Sedaghatzadeh had fled to Kuala Lumpur soon after an abortive attack on Israeli targets that took place a day after the February 19 bombings in New Delhi. Mr Masoud, Delhi Police officials have claimed, was in contact with members of the Iranian terror cell in the city, and is expected to be able to offer information on the plot.
Thailand and India have also sought Iranian help in locating two more suspects, Ali Akbar Norouzishayan and Leila Rohani, both identified by their passports as Tehran residents. In addition, Thai police have in their custody Saeed Moradi, whose legs were blown off during the botched bombing in Thailand, and alleged cell member Mohammad Khazei, who was arrested while leaving for Kuala Lumpur after the attack.
Police in Tbilisi, Georgia, have so far failed to identify any suspects in a third bombing targeting its diplomats there.
“Iran has excellent relations with New Delhi,” an Indian diplomat said. “We have made clear to them we have no reason to blame the government for the terrorist attack, but also that we expect full cooperation”. Iran’s embassy in New Delhi did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment. The country has repeatedly denied any involvement in the terrorist attacks, alleging they had been carried out by Israel and the west to defame the country.
While accusations have been made in the media that elements of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, may have been involved in the operation, these accusations are not backed by evidence by prosecutors in either Thailand or India. Proponents of this theory claim the attacks were intended to retaliate against a string of attacks on scientists linked to Iran’s nuclear programme, five of whom have been assassinated since 2010 in attacks the country has blamed on Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Earlier this summer, Iranian television aired confessions by the purported assassins, who described how they carried out the killings using magnetic improvised explosive devices similar to those deployed in the strikes on Israeli diplomats.