Notes From the Margins…

Here Come the Terror Cells…Right on Cue

  • February 15, 2012
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This week’s botched attacks in Tbilisi, New Delhi and Bangkok have brought the looming war between Israel and Iran closer.  It hasn’t been determined yet whether the last incident was actually directed against Israeli diplomats or personnel, or whether Iran is responsible for them, but Israel has no doubts.

Within hours of Monday’s incidents in Georgia and India, Netanyahu was telling the world that ‘The elements behind these attacks were Iran and its protege, Hezbollah’ and that Tehran was ‘the largest terror exporter in the world.’   Netanyahu’s equally fanatical foreign minister Avigdor Leiberman similarly saw the attacks as proof that ‘  Israel and its citizens face terror inside and outside of Israel’.  Yesterday  Ehud Barak declared that ‘The attempted terror attack in Thailand  proves once again that Iran and its proxies continue to operate in the ways of terror.’

The U.S. is still playing the role of detached statesmanlike observer, albeit without too much conviction, with State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland telling reporters yesterday in reference to Monday’s bomb explosion in Delhi ‘We are not going to prejudge this. We’re going to await the investigation’.

But then Nuland notes that the attack ‘comes  on the heels of other disrupted attacks targeted at Israel and Western interests, including an Iranian-sponsored attack in Baku, Azerbaijan, and a Hezbollah-linked attack in Bangkok, Thailand.’  So maybe a little pre-judging then.

Israel is itself no stranger to the ‘ways of terror’, of course, and beneath its usual veneer of ‘plausible deniability’ is currently engaged in ‘exporting’ these ‘ways’ to Iran, in the form of bombings and assassinations of Iranian scientists.   Just the other day, U.S. officials told NBC news that these assassinations were being carried out by the Iranian dissident group the Mujahideen -e Khalq (MEK) with training, finance and weaponry from Mossad.

But then, as we have often seen, such activities are not always considered ‘terror’, even when the MEK  has been designated a ‘terrorist organization‘ by the U.S. government.

George Galloway and others have suggested that the attacks in Georgia, India and Thailand may be ‘false flag operations’, carried out with Israeli backing.    Naturally there is no evidence for this, but then the whole point of such operations is not to leave any.

Certainly, if these attacks were Iranian they were startlingly amateurish.  In Delhi motorcyclists attached a magnetic bomb to an Israeli diplomat’s car when it stopped at a traffic light, in full view of witnesses.  In Tbilisi, the Israeli driver discovered a bomb stuck to the underside of his car, because he heard it rattling while he was driving away.  In Bangkok, the would-be bombers blew the roof of their house off and one member of the ‘terror cell’ threw a hand grenade at Thai police, which bounced off a tree and blew his legs off.

This isn’t exactly James Bond stuff, which does not prove that Iran was not responsible.  But given that Iran knows that Israel and the United States are only waiting for any pretext to attack it, these incidents seem reckless and counter-productive.   Various observers have pointed out that it doesn’t make much sense for Iran to antagonize India, which continues to buy Iranian oil and is also a major rice supplier.

It is also odd that the Iranians would risk provoking war in what are essentially  pin-prick operations against relatively minor targets, or that it would leave its ‘fingerprints’ so obviously on the attacks, from Iranian passports to the same magnetic strip bombs, which Thai police now claiming that the bombs used in Bangkok and India had the same ‘magnetic sheets’.

The only thing missing from his narrative is a signed order from Ahmadinajad.  But then Israel doesn’t need that.  It was after all, the assassination attempt on the Israeli ambassador in London on 3 June 1982 by the Abu Nidal organization that provoked the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.   Abu Nidal was not even a member of the PLO, and in fact been sentenced to death by Arafat, but Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon  used this incident to justify an all-out assault on PLO bases in South Lebanon and Beirut, which killed approximately 18,000 Lebanese.

That assault was justified with the same vocabulary  of  ‘terror’, ‘terror-exporters’ and ‘terror cells’ that Israeli politicians love to indulge in, and which is currently being invoked with the usual sanctimonious tone of  horror and indignation.

Iran and Hezbollah will remember this very well, given that it was the Israeli invasion that resulted in the creation of the latter.    The persistent ‘linkages’ between Iran and Hezbollah in the current Israeli/U.S. terror discourse leave little doubt that the war that is currently being planned will extend into Lebanon as well as Iran.

If Iran or Hezbollah really wanted to provoke such a conflict, one might expect them to  have something more lethal to offer than sticky bombs that rattle under cars, and operatives who throw grenades at trees.

For Israel, on the other hand, even keystone cop terrorists are still terrorists and they will always have their uses.

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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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