July 30, 2012 — -- Five members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard tried to kill an Israeli diplomat with a magnetic bomb this February, according to a police report cited by the Times of India, an Indian newspaper.
This is the first time the Revolutionary Guard, a militia close to Iran's supreme religious leader Ayatollah Khamenei, has been directly linked to the failed attack on an Israeli embassy vehicle in New Delhi, which injured the wife of the Israeli defense attaché, her driver and two bystanders. Observers have speculated that alleged attacks or plots by Iranian suspects against Israeli targets in Thailand, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kenya and India are retaliation for the recent assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists that the Iranians blame on Israeli or Western agents.
U.S. officials have linked Iran's Revolutionary Guard to an alleged plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. that was disrupted in 2011. Attorney General Eric Holder identified one of the defendants as an Iran-based member of the Quds force, a special unit of the Revolutionary Guard.
Interpol had issued arrest warrants for four of the suspects in the New Delhi attack in March. The Times of India, citing the police investigation, adds biographical detail, describing Houshang Afshar Irani, who allegedly drove past the Israeli car on a motorcycle and attached the "sticky" explosive device, as a builder. Masoud Sedaghatzadeh, the alleged mastermind, is identified as a salesman. Their alleged accomplices, Syed Ali Mahdiansadr and Mohammed Reza Abolghasemi, are identified as a "mobile shopkeeper" and a clerk at the Tehran water authority respectively.
Two of the men are also wanted by Thai police in connection with an alleged plot to attack Israeli targets in Bangkok. On February 14, the day after the New Delhi attack, several men allegedly fled a rented Bangkok house after an explosion inside. One of the men allegedly blew off his own legs while attacking a taxi driver and police with bombs as he tried to leave the scene. Police allegedly found two unexploded bombs in the house vacated by the Iranians.
The Times of India says Indian police are seeking Ali Akbar Norouzishayan, who Thai police claim was spotted on security camera footage leaving the Bangkok house after the explosion. Interpol has not issued a warrant for Norouzishayan, whom the Times describes as a retired accountant in Tehran.
Masoud Sedaghatzadeh, also sought by the Indians, is being held in Malaysia, where he is fighting his extradition to Thailand. He was arrested in Kuala Lumpur while attempting to return to Iran a day after the Bangkok blast. Indian authorities have also reportedly accused him of taking part in a plot in Tbilisi, Georgia, where an unexploded bomb was found on an Israeli vehicle the same day as the New Delhi bombing.
The five suspects reportedly entered India on tourist visas, according to media reports citing local police, and left after the attempted assassination. An Indian journalist, Syed Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi who was employed by the Iran's IRNA news agency in New Delhi, was arrested in March in connection with the attack as an alleged accomplice.
Over the past several years, at least five scientists linked to the Iranian nuclear program have been killed, and Iran has blamed the U.S., the U.K. and Israel for the attacks. Several were killed using magnetic "sticky" bombs attached to vehicles. Some of the apparent reprisal attacks allegedly carried out by Iranian suspects used the same method.