For the better part of my career in the Mossad, it was my job to track, hunt down (and where possible), neutralize Iranian or Hezbollah terrorist cells of the type that clumsily attempted to assassinate Israeli diplomats that played out on the clammy and stifling streets of Bangkok.
While it’s easy to deride the incompetence of the Iranians’ plot in Thailand (especially when compared to the assassination of scientists involved in Iran’s non-conventional weapons projects), this is how Iran and its proxies operate.
For all of Iran’s chutzpah, its capabilities do not match the tradecraft and foreign identity options consistent with the calibre of intelligence services such as the Mossad, CIA and British SIS (MI6). When the Iranian regime decided to assassinate the Shah’s former Prime Minister, Shapour Bakhtiar in Paris in 1991 (just down the street from where I was residing at the time), the assassination team was dropped off at his house by a vehicle bearing diplomatic licence plates belonging to the Iranian embassy. In 1992, Hezbollah operatives drove a truck bomb into the Israeli embassy in Buenos Airies killing 29 and injuring 242 and were directed in their attack by Moshen Rabbani, who served as “cultural attaché” at the Iranian embassy in Argentina until 1997. The follow-up 1994 bomb attack on the Jewish Community Center (“AMIA”) in Argentina that killed 85 people and wounded hundreds was carried out by Hezbollah under the direction by Ahmad Vahidi, the current Iranian Defence Minister who was at the time of the attacks head of the IRGC-QF (and to this day remains on Interpol’s wanted list). Again in 1994, a hijacked truck laden with explosives was intercepted on its way to conduct an attack against the Israeli embassy in Bangkok, after hitting a local motorcycle. The Hezbollah operative driving the truck bomb fled the scene, and the body of the murdered driver from whom the truck was hijacked was later found in the vehicle by local police.
Many pundits whose memories are short (or are simply too young to remember these events) have been drawing attention to the aborted attack as proof that this couldn’t be the work of the Iranian government on the basis that the sheer amateurism and ineptitude of these attacks don’t exhibit the hallmarks of a clever state actor like Iran. In fact, this four-person cell is of the exact type that Iran deploys – either under the direction and aegis of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) – or Hezbollah, an otherwise wholly-owned subsidiary of the Iranian regime. This four person cell consisted of three men and one woman; Saeid Moradi (the hapless fellow who lost both legs trying to throw one of his explosive devices at a police unit ), Mohamed Khazaei, the cell commander who was caught trying to flee Thailand, Masoud Sedaghatzadeh, most likely the technical and explosives specialist, who was arrested in Kuala Lumpur after trying to escape via Malaysia (a well-known transit point for IRGC-QF/Hezbollah operatives working the Far East), and Leila Rohani, the logistics person who managed to escape and has fled back to Tehran. Ms. Rohani was responsible for renting the safe house and providing other logistical support in Bangkok because being a woman would not attract the attention of the authorities in the same manner as three men of Near Eastern appearance. The fact that they were operating on Iranian identities is entirely consistent with their modus-operendi.
This is how international terrorism works in the real world, it’s not all gadgets and Hollywood style sophistication. The Iranians are acting in haste in a realm where haste often equals disaster and by trying to mimic the surgical attack methods used against them (as opposed to their practice of driving a truck with several hundred kilos of explosives into a building) are showing that they lack the operational capability of their opponents. It doesn’t mean they are not effective or not able to achieve their target, it just means that they care less about the resulting political fallout. In the end, all the damage control Iran has to perform is deny involvement or call it a Zionist plot.
I’m not sure how much more evidence the Canadian government will require before listing the IRGC-QF as a banned terrorist entity, but I’d be happy to testify before a parliamentary committee if they need further convincing.
Michael Ross is a former deep-cover officer with the Israel Secret Intelligence Service (Mossad)
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.