Slouching toward Tehran

It’s hard to escape the feeling that events are building toward a cataclysm in the Middle East. Iran appears to have engaged in three or four assassination attempts against Israelis in foreign countries this week — in New Delhi, in Bankgkok, in Tbilisi, and in Singapore (this last one reportedly denied by Israel). The bombs fit a pattern.

Iranian denials of involvement are a little bit hard to square with events in Bangkok, where an Iranian man blew off his legs and injured several bystanders as a series of explosions rocked the city. Andrew Buncome’s Independent story on the Bangkok bungle includes a photo with a straight-on view of the would-be bomber’s stumps. Somewhere inside that legless man is a Monty Python joke struggling to get out.

The United States has of course had its own encounter with Iran’s modus operandi inside our borders. Only this past October the administration announced it had discovered and thwarted a plot by Iran to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States by bombing a Washington restaurant.

The bystanders who would have been killed only represented a bonus for the powers-that-be in Iran. They’ve been at war with us for 30 years. (Has anybody told the president?) For comic relief, however, Attorney General Holder chimed in with the threat that “the United States is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions.” The mullahs in Tehran weren’t too shaken up.

In a chilling Wall Street Journal column, NYPD chief intelligence analyst Mitchell Silber took a timely look back at Iran’s bombings in Argentina 20 years ago:

The New York City Police Department, where I work as director of Intelligence Analysis, sent a team to Argentina to study the modus operandi of those attacks and to meet with Argentine security officials who worked the investigations. Coupled with open source information, this is what the NYPD learned:

Iranian agents were sent to Argentina years before the attacks, where they integrated into society and became Argentine nationals. Mohsen Rabbani is believed to have been in charge of coordinating the 1994 attack and is subject to an Interpol arrest warrant for his involvement. He first came to Argentina in 1983, where he subsequently became the main imam at At-Tauhid, an Iranian-funded mosque in Buenos Aires.

After traveling to Iran in August 1993 to participate in a meeting that allegedly gave the planned attack the green light, Mr. Rabbani returned to Argentina as a cultural attaché to the Iranian Embassy, conveniently providing him diplomatic immunity. Then, Hezbollah agents from abroad received logistical support from members of the local Lebanese-Shiite community and the Iranian Embassy to carry out the attack.

The Argentine attacks were by no means isolated incidents. Hezbollah has been tied to failed attacks in 2009 against Israeli and Jewish interests in Azerbaijan, Egypt and Turkey. Last month, Thai officials arrested a suspected Hezbollah militant for possibly planning attacks there or perhaps facilitating the movement of weapons through Bangkok.

Unlike the president of the United States, who appears to serve as the world’s foremost protector of Iran’s nuclear program, Israel gives every sign of being serious about preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Not surprisingly, Giulio Meotti reports, Israel is preparing for war. Meotti raises the pointed question: [A]s Israelis start thinking about heading to shelters, the question in their minds is: once the assault on their nation begins, will the West come to their aid?”

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