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U.S. concerned about spike in Iran-Israel ‘shadow war’
Question of the Day
The incident happened one day after a magnetic bomb attached to an Israeli Embassy car in New Delhi injured four people, including the wife of an Israeli Defense Ministry official. A similar attack was foiled in Tiblisi on Monday, when police defused a bomb found under an Israeli diplomat’s car.
The incidents, far from Iranian and Israeli soil, fall amid concerns among some senior U.S. officials about Iran’s terrorism ambitions. Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Jan. 31 that if Iran feels threatened, it could seek to carry out terrorist attacks in the United States.
Mr. Clapper cited the charges filed last fall by the Justice Department, which revealed a failed plot by Iranian officials to hire an assassin from a Mexican drug cartel to kill a Saudi diplomat in Washington.
U.S. foreign policy observers remain skeptical of the plot’s legitimacy, citing difficulty in identifying a clear Iranian motive. “I still have a lot of questions about that particular plot,” said Barbara Slavin, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council foreign policy think tank in Washington.
“I think these incidents of trying to kill Israelis overseas make more sense to me than a plot against the Saudi ambassador in Washington.
The India, Georgia and Thailand incidents happened during a week marking the anniversaries of two assassinations of former major Hezbollah operatives. The group’s co-founder and former secretary-general, Abbass al-Musawi, was killed by an Israeli attack helicopter Feb. 16, 1992, and its former military chief, Imad Mughniyeh, was killed by a car bomb Feb. 12, 2008.
“Hezbollah has been trying to retaliate for years, and the timing of the India attack suggests a connection,” said Ms. Slavin. “But what is new and more ominous is the fact that Iran now has a maturing nuclear program and five Iranian scientists connected to the nuclear and missile programs have been assassinated in recent years, and, of course, Israel is widely believed to be behind those incidents.”
“They can’t respond by shutting the Strait of Hormuz because doing so would be perceived by the West as a reason to wage war against Iran,” he said. “They can’t order Hezbollah to attack Israel from Lebanon because Israel would retaliate.”
By engaging in attacks similar to those by Israeli agents, Mr. Rabi said, Iran is sending a “signal that ‘we can do to you what you are doing to us in our neighborhood — if you can use proxies, we can use proxies, too.’”
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About the Author
Guy Taylor rejoined The Washington Times in 2011 as the State Department correspondent.
As a freelance journalist, Taylor’s work was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the Fund For Investigative Journalism, and his stories appeared in a variety publications, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to Salon, Reason, Prospect Magazine of London, the Daily Star of Beirut, the ...
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