Iranian bomb gang defused in
Bangkok By Richard S Ehrlich
BANGKOK - Malaysia arrested on Wednesday a
member of an Iranian bomb-making gang who
allegedly plotted to assassinate Israeli diplomats
The arrest came one day after
the suspect fled Bangkok, where the gang had
rented a house that exploded in a bomb-making
accident. Another Iranian suspect blew off his own
legs with his own grenade while attempting to
Thailand is still searching for an
Iranian women named Rohani Leila. She allegedly
rented the house where the four suspects stayed, a
few blocks from Iran's government-run Cultural
an upscale Bangkok
neighborhood where many Thai Muslims live. The
man arrested in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital,
allegedly used an Iranian passport, numbered
M20305701, which identified him as Masoud
Sedaghatzadeh. He was born in Tehran on February
12, 1981, as the son of Abbas Sedaghatzadeh,
according to a published scan of the document.
He was caught trying to fly from Kuala
Lumpur to Tehran on Wednesday after changing a
previous booking scheduled for February 25 on that
same route, Thailand's Nation newspaper reported.
Sedaghatzadeh arrived in Malaysia on Tuesday
evening, hours after the alleged bomb-making
gang's plot unraveled during a bizarre and bloody
afternoon on Bangkok's crowded streets.
Thai police, meanwhile, hoped to question
another Iranian man, Saeid Moradi, who is still
recovering in a Bangkok hospital after losing both
of his legs when his explosive device bounced back
at him in the street on Tuesday.
Iranian man, Mohammad Hazaei, was arrested at
Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi international airport on
Tuesday during his failed attempt to also board a
flight south to Malaysia.
Ambassador to Thailand, Itzhak Shoham, told
journalists the bomb-making evidence discovered in
the rented house included magnets, similar to ones
recently used in so-called "magnet bombs" in New
Delhi, India and Tbilisi, Georgia on Monday.
In each of those attacks, a bomb equipped
with a magnet was stuck onto an Israeli Embassy
vehicle to be detonated. The explosion in New
Delhi injured an Israeli diplomat's wife and
driver in her car. The device in Georgia was
discovered and defused while attached to a
Israel blamed Iran for the
attacks in India, Georgia and Thailand, but Tehran
denied the charges.
"I think that
terrorism looks for soft targets, and Thailand
being so open a country and friendly, it is also a
very, very soft target," the Israeli ambassador
said on Wednesday. "People come here, and they
feel they can do whatever they want. And we think
that probably this is one of the reasons why the
terrorists have chosen Thailand," Shoham told
Thailand's Nation TV.
Iran, meanwhile, has
accused Israel for unexplained bombing
assassinations of its top nuclear scientists in
recent years. The attacks come against the
backdrop of ramped up tensions between Iran and
the US over Tehran's nuclear program.
police said they discovered C-4 explosives hidden
inside two radios in the damaged house in Bangkok.
Frequently used worldwide by terrorists and
armies, C-4 bombs are set off by a smaller
exploding electronic trigger, detonator, or
blasting cap, because a fuse or fire will only
make C-4 burn.
On Tuesday, the three
Iranian men allegedly set off an explosion in
their rented, two-story house in the afternoon,
apparently by accident, ripping off part of the
roof and knocking out the building's windows and
Sedaghatzadeh and Hazaei fled in a
taxi, while Moradi trailed behind on foot, injured
from the blast, police said. He was rejected by
another taxi driver who became fearful upon seeing
Moradi's bleeding head wound. Moradi, 28, hurled a
grenade-like bomb at the taxi, damaging the
vehicle and lightly injuring the driver, who was
able to run after him while yelling to pedestrians
When a crowd chased Moradi,
attracting police attention, he threw another
grenade-like bomb at them, but it bounced off a
passing pick-up truck and landed at his feet and
exploded, ripping off one of his own legs and
resulting in the loss of part of his other leg. He
survived the injuries and was later hospitalized.
Hours later, police arrested Hazaei at
Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi international airport, but
Sedaghatzadeh escaped on a departing flight to
Malaysia, police said. Police charged both of the
Iranian men arrested in Bangkok with criminal
offenses, including causing an illegal explosion
and attempting to kill police officers and members
of the public.
"We cannot say yet if it is
a terrorist act, but it is similar to the
assassination attempt against a diplomat in
India," Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul
told reporters, describing the Iranians'
activities. Police, accompanied by an Iranian
Embassy official, questioned Hazaei who denied the
When US Central Intelligence
Agency Director David Petraeus visited Bangkok on
February 6, he was reportedly updated by Thai
officials about a dual Lebanese-Swedish citizen,
Hussein Artis, who was suspected of being an
Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist and was arrested
in Bangkok on January 12.
stands accused of stockpiling materials that could
be used in making bombs in a rented building on
the outskirts of Bangkok. His arrest came after
several Western governments, including the United
States, slapped terrorism-related travel
advisories on Thailand. Those advisories were
removed after Artis's arrest.
"I am 100%
not guilty in the terror crimes I am accused of,"
Hussein Atris, 47, told the Swedish newspaper
Aftonbladet. Atris said he stockpiled medical
"cool packs" which "contained ammonia" for
commercial export, and was not a Hezbollah member.
He was arrested for possessing 10 gallons of
ammonium nitrate which can be used to build bombs.
Police, however, increased security around
potential Israeli targets including Bangkok's
Jewish synagogues, Chabad House religious center,
the Israeli embassy and elsewhere. Officials have
not publicly linked the two cases, but Israel
blamed Iran for Atris's activities. The US and UK,
meanwhile, slapped new travel advisories warning
their citizens about the risks of travel to
Richard S Ehrlich is a
Bangkok-based journalist from San Francisco,
California, reporting news from Asia since 1978,
and recipient of Columbia University's Foreign
Correspondent's Award. His websites are
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