Israel blames Iran for bombs targeting diplomatic staff in India and Georgia

Hard to believe it’s not Iran and/or Hezbollah, but you’d think the pros would be more lethal when they strike.

In a strike virtually identical to attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists, U.S. sources say a passing motorcyclist attached what appeared to be a shaped charge to an Israeli diplomatic vehicle in New Delhi, India. The driver and the wife of Israel’s deputy defense ministry representative to India were wounded…

A single source confirms that a failed attack against an Israeli car in Tblisi, Georgia used a similar method, but the bomb did not detonate. A worker at the embassy alerted local police after seeing a black plastic bag attached to the bottom of the Israeli envoy’s car. The bag held a hand grenade

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly pointed the finger at Iran for the twin attacks in Georgia and India. Both attacks come one day after the fourth anniversary of the assassination of a top Hezbollah leader.

That top Hezbollah leader was, of course, Imad Mughniyeh, whose head was blown off by a bomb planted in his driver seat’s headrest, presumably by Mossad. “Sticky bombs” with shaped charges (designed to focus the explosive force of the blast inward and away from nearby traffic) were used last month to target Iranian scientist Mostafa Ahamdi Roshan, the fourth nuke specialist to face that sort of attack. One big difference between that operation and today’s attempts, though: Roshan was killed and the Israeli victims all survived with nothing worse than moderate shrapnel wounds. Also curious is how low-key the Israeli victims were. One was the wife of a defense ministry official stationed at the embassy in New Delhi, whose car was attacked while she was leaving the complex, the other was a Georgian national who worked at the Israeli embassy in Tbilisi and who discovered the bomb during his morning commute. (It was defused by police.) Hard to believe that either of them were specifically targeted; in the first case, it looks like the wife was a target of opportunity whose car was seen leaving the embassy, and in the second case it may be that the attackers were trying to sneak the bomb into the embassy so that they could detonate it somehow in the parking lot with people around.

Those are my suspicions, but I have no explanation for why an expert outfit like Hezbollah would resort to something as crude as a grenade in a bag or why they’d try to avenge a mastermind like Mughniyeh by targeting two people of no real consequence to Israeli operations. They’re looking for payback for Iran’s nuclear scientists and the best they can do is … moderate injuries to a defense official’s wife? Even if you think they were targeting the official himself instead of her, I would think they’d have decent enough surveillance to know when he’s in the car and isn’t. Maybe their conclusion was that it didn’t matter who they targeted or how bad the damage was: The point was to send a message to Netanyahu (and to Iranians, who might otherwise sense a loss of prestige among the regime for not retaliating), and that message was obviously received. It could also be that Iran is aware of the tension between the U.S. and Israel over targeting Iranian scientists and is trying to drive the wedge by goading Israel into responding. Read this nifty NBC piece from last week alleging that the assassinations inside Iran are being planned by Mossad but carried out by the Mujahedeen e-Khalq — an Iranian dissident group which the U.S. lists as an official terrorist organization. Precisely because they have that designation, U.S. intel can’t deal with them; Israel can, but whether they should is a very different question. The more this goes on, the more heat Obama will take from Iran doves on the left. Or maybe there’s some other grand Iranian strategic calculation that would lead them to hit back on behalf of their scientists … but do a half-assed job of it. What am I missing here?

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