Posted by BH 6:25 am 2-15
A wave of bungled assassination attempts this week, pretty clearly masterminded from Tehran, show that the Iranian regime’s reach, at least for now, is no match for its ambitions.
Make no mistake. Iran and such proxies as the Lebanon-based Hezbollah are hungry. They desperately need to show some — any — success in their shadow war with Israel and America. But, despite some signs of heightened sophistication, they’re mostly failing. Consider:
Yesterday, an explosion in a rented apartment blew the roof off of a building in Bangkok. It was an apparent “work accident.”
An injured man, Saeid Moradi (according to his Iranian passport) was caught trying to flee the scene at the heart of the Thai capital, in a district hosting many foreign embassies (including Israel’s). Another Iranian, Mohummad Hazaei, was arrested at the Bangkok airport as he sought to board a plane for Malaysia.
There were no casualties.
Monday’s attempt on an Israeli diplomat in Tbilisi, Georgia, was another failure. But Tali Yehoshua-Koren, the wife of the Israeli military attaché in India, was critically injured the same day after an assailant attached a magnet bomb to her car.
The India Times yesterday cited unnamed Indian intelligence sources as suspecting an Iranian hand in the attack on the Israeli diplomat. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly blamed Iran and Hezbollah.
Jerusalem anti-terror officials quoted in the Israeli press say that, yes, this week’s coordinated efforts in three different capitals show some operational sophistication. But they also note a lack of success: The New Delhi attack was probably aimed at the attaché rather than at his wife, and all the other operations were thwarted, as were other recent attempts at Israeli targets in Bangkok, Azerbaijan and Turkey.
“We’re aware of Iran’s attempts, for the longest time, to attack Israeli and Jewish sites around the world,” Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom told me yesterday. “To our relief, these attempts were unsuccessful so far” — even though, “much to our chagrin, they succeeded in New Delhi.”
Why this week? Monday marked the fourth anniversary of the assassination — in the heart of Damascus — of one of the most successful operational masterminds in the history of terrorism, Imad Mughniyeh.
As Hezbollah’s chief of operations, Mughniyeh had boasted a long bloody trail, from the 1983 Marine barrack bombing to the mid-1990s destruction of Israeli and Jewish targets in Buenos Aires and beyond. Hezbollah and its Iranian masters have long vowed “painful” retaliation.
But this week’s failure suggest the Iranian-backed terror network (also said to be seeking to avenge assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists) still hasn’t fully recovered from the loss of Mugniyeh. It’s no match for Israel’s intelligence apparatus, well-thought-out security protocols and worldwide connections with sister intelligence agencies.
To be sure, there’s a major difference, morally, between hitting legitimate military targets (terrorist masterminds or scientists involved in a nefarious nuclear program) and the attempt to murder diplomats (even military attachés) in foreign lands.
But the even more striking difference is in the success rate: Iran and its allies are increasingly failing at a game they’ve been at for decades. Meanwhile, their enemies prove much better at defending themselves and at pinpointing and hitting enemy targets.
True, al Qaeda proved with 9/11 that one operation that manages to slip through can make a huge difference. Nor is Israel the only one in the mullahs’ crosshairs. As US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper noted recently, Iran is “now more willing” than in the past to attack on US soil. In particular — as Mitchell Silber, the NYPD director of intelligence analysis, wrote yesterday in The Wall Street Journal — New York, with its large and visible Jewish community, must now heighten its vigilance.
Yet, while underestimating Iran’s capabilities would be unwise, overestimating them is also a mistake. Talk of resorting to military action to end Iran’s nuclear quest is inevitably met with warnings of epic retaliation via Iran’s “terror tentacles.” But that ignores the West’s increased preventive abilities: In fact, Tehran is better at threatening biblical-size revenge than at carrying it out.
It can remain so — as long as it doesn’t get a nuclear bomb.