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Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Qassem Soleimani killing: In Trump statement, a throwback to attack on Israeli diplomat in capital eight years ago

The incident took place around 2.45 pm at the traffic signal of Aurganzeb Road near the Prime Minister’s residence. Israeli diplomat Tal Yehoshua-Koren and her Indian driver were among the four injured.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: January 5, 2020 3:48:00 pm
Qassem Soleimani killing, Iraninan General Qassem Soleimani killing, us airstrike baghdad, Qassem Soleimani, trump iran, us iran tension, delhi police, delhi city news An explosive device was attached to the diplomat’s vehicle. (Express Archive)

US President Donald Trump’s statement Saturday that Qassem Soleimani had “contributed to terrorist plots as far away as New Delhi” is being read by security agencies in Delhi as a reference to a targeted attack on an Israel embassy vehicle in the national capital on February 13, 2012, which had left an Israeli diplomat and three others wounded. While a Delhi-based journalist, Mohammed Ahmad Kazmi, had been arrested on March 6 after the attack, believed to have been carried out by Iranian nationals, the progress in the case since then has been slow.

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On the basis of a request made by Delhi Police, the CBI had requested the Interpol to issue Red Corner notices against four Iranians, but no headway has been made since then. “The order on framing of charges has not been passed by the trial court so far. The accused has moved the Delhi High Court and the matter is pending before it,” a senior police officer said.

The incident took place around 2.45 pm at the traffic signal of Aurganzeb Road near the Prime Minister’s residence. Israeli diplomat Tal Yehoshua-Koren and her Indian driver were among the four injured. Koren, wife of the Israeli defence attache, received injuries when a motorcycle rider attached a magnetic explosive device in her car and managed to escape. Within seconds, the device exploded with a thunderous sound, setting the car on fire. Koren moved back to Israel after getting treatment at a hospital in South Delhi.

Intelligence agencies came to know about Kazmi’s alleged links after the arrest of one Masoud Sedaghatzadeh, the operational head of a module which also carried out an attack in Bangkok. “Sedaghatzadeh was in touch with another accused, Houshang Afshar Irani, and technical surveillance led to his purported links with Kazmi,” an officer said.

The then Delhi Police Commissioner B K Gupta had said Kazmi was allegedly instrumental in getting the Israeli Embassy and its surrounding areas recced by the suspects. “Kazmi was arrested on charges of being a facilitator and being a part of the conspiracy. His questioning brought to light that he has been in contact with persons of Iranian origin involved in the attack for some time. Iranians had allegedly conducted reconnaissance of the Israeli embassy earlier with the help of Kazmi,” Gupta had said.

Police had found that the conspiracy to bomb the Israeli diplomat’s car was hatched in early 2011, when two Iranian nationals came to India to conduct a recce of the embassy, besides monitoring entry and exit timing of diplomats.

“The two — Syed Ali Mehdi Sadr and Mohammad Reza Abolghasemi — had allegedly been accompanying Kazmi in their reconnaissance mission before they left India for Tehran to finalise the plan and prepare an executer of the operation. Irani is alleged to be the person who stuck the bomb to the car. He came India in the last week of January in 2012 and stayed in a hotel in Karol Bagh,” a senior police officer said.

While seeking police custody for Kazmi, the then public prosecutor Rajiv Mohan had stated in a Delhi court that it was a case of international terrorism. “The conspiracy was hatched outside India. We do not want to disclose all information in the open court as the main accused, who is yet to be arrested, could go out of reach of the probe agency,” the prosecutor had stated.

In the chargesheet filed by the Special Cell of Delhi Police in 2012, Kazmi had been accused of offences under various provisions of the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Explosive Substances Act. Kazmi was released on bail from Tihar Jail on October 20, 2012. He got a job with the IRIB, Iran’s state-run radio agency, in 2015. He was earlier associated with Doordarshan, having joined in 1993. In 2003, he had reported from Iraq’s conflict zone.

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