Iran’s Quds Force Linked to Blast Near Israel Embassy in Delhi, Reports Say

March 11, 2021 Updated: March 11, 2021

NEW DELHI—Investigators in India have concluded that the Quds Force of Iran’s terrorist Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps was behind a bomb blast that occurred outside the Israeli Embassy in Delhi in late January, Indian media have reported.

Indian counterterrorism agencies have concluded that an improvised explosive device was planted by a local Indian Shia group under the guidance of the Iranian Quds Force, according to the Indian daily Hindustan Times on March 8.

The bomb that went off outside the Israeli Embassy on Jan. 29 was of very low intensity, was remotely controlled, didn’t have human targets, and shattered the windows of three cars parked nearby, investigators said.

The investigating agencies had recovered a letter from the site of the explosion, addressed to Israeli Ambassador to India Ron Malka. The letter called him a terrorist and a devil, and swore revenge for the deaths of Quds Force founder Qassem Soleimani and veteran Iraqi militant Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were killed in a U.S. drone attack in Baghdad in early January 2020.

The Israeli spy agency Mossad is currently assisting the investigation.

“The investigations are still going on. And these reports are based on some kind of speculations perhaps at this stage. It is very difficult to say whether these reports are true or not true,” Arvind Gupta, a former secretary of India’s National Security Council Secretariat and the director of New Delhi-based think tank Vivekanand International Foundation, told The Epoch Times.

“These reports seem to be based on the theory of needle of suspicion pointing towards Iran. That is quite natural in this kind of circumstances, because given the background and given the long-standing issues between Iran and Israel.

Michael Rubin, a resident scholar specializing in Iran, Turkey, and the broader Middle East at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, told The Epoch Times in an email: “I can’t comment on the forensic evidence, but the guidance by the Quds Force to strike at Israeli diplomatic properties abroad fits an established pattern. There was an attack on the wife of the Israeli defense attache to India in 2012.

“That same year, there was an attempted attack in Tbilisi, Georgia, and several bombings in Bangkok. Twenty years before that, Quds Force-linked bombers attacked the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires.”

Israel established diplomatic relations far and wide after the Cold War and, from Iran’s perspective, that “simply meant more targets,” he said.

Epoch Times Photo
Police cordon off an area after an explosion near the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi on Jan. 29, 2021. (Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images)

Why a Target in India?

India is one of the very few countries that enjoys good relations with both Iran and Israel. After recent reports in the Indian media about the Iranian links to the attack outside the embassy, Iran denied its involvement and attributed claims of its involvement to “sinister intentions.”

“We expect all the media and commentators not to fall into the traps and thereby unknowingly enforce the scenarios conspired by third parties, whose intention and interest is nothing but to deteriorate the growing Iran-India relations,” said Iran’s embassy in New Delhi in a March 8 statement.

Gupta said that the government of India would be “quite concerned” if the issues between Iran and Israel were to play out on Indian soil.

“Solemani’s killing is essentially an issue between Iran and the U.S. because it was the U.S. drone that killed him. and maybe Israel because he was the head of the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps]. So it’s not necessarily linked with India,” Gupta said.

A previously unknown Indian organization called Jaish-Ul-Hind claimed responsibility for the January attack, according to a screenshot of a message on the Telegram app that had gone viral, India Today reported.

“By the grace and help of Almighty Allah, soldiers of Jaish-Ul-Hind were able to infiltrate a high-security area in Delhi and carry out an IED attack. This Allah willing is the beginning of a series of attacks that would target major Indian cities and payback in kind to the atrocities committed by the Indian state. Wait and we are waiting too,” the message read.

Indian investigators said the message could very likely be an attempt to mislead the investigation.

Rubin said: “The Quds Force often seeks plausible deniability, and so the name attached to the letter is irrelevant. What is going to matter is the intelligence work to try to track the bomber as well as the forensic evidence recovered from the bomb itself.”

Gupta said the matter could very likely be related to a global rivalry, as similar attacks have happened in other countries.

“So we don’t know. It’s very difficult to say it has a link with the radicals in India. That will not be the correct way of looking at it,” said Gupta.

Hamid Bahrami, an author and independent Middle East analyst based in Glasgow, told The Epoch Times in an email that the Quds Force has sufficient resources in the Indian Shi’ite community to execute such an attack.

Geopolitics

Immediately after the terror attack, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, and promised to help punish the culprits.

Experts say there’s more to the attack than what meets the eye regarding the Iran–Israel rivalry and that it could indicate hidden geopolitical imperatives.

“Part of the decision to target in India is a belief among Iran’s terror cells that they could outmaneuver Indian intelligence and counter-terror forces. And part of the calculation is a belief that, even if they pulled off a bombing, they could get away with it given India’s tight trade ties to Iran,” Rubin said.

It’s important to understand what goes on inside the mind of the Quds Force when it carries out such an attack in a country with whom it has friendly relations, said Bahrami.

“Indeed, Israel is trying to expand its relations with Delhi, and where Jerusalem is landing, there is no place for the Iranian regime,” he said.

“IRGC is trying to say when they can operate such a small attack, they even can target Israeli ambassadors in India.”

Bahrami said: “In recent years, India attempts to develop and modernize its military systems and the weapons and defense products and technology it needs to compete with Pakistan, as well as defeating strategic threats and counter-terrorism including cybersecurity and national security issues.” He noted that India and Israel recently concluded a series of agreements.

Wary of Chinese aggression on its northeastern border after the bloody conflict in Galwan in June 2020, India signed a secretive $28 million deal with Israel in late December last year to buy SPICE (smart, precise, impact, cost-effective) bombs and other assorted Israeli gear that included tactical radios for the Indian army, Janes Defence Weekly reported.

Israel Aerospace Industries announced the signing of two deals to supply its Heron MK II unmanned aircraft system to an undisclosed central Asian country on Jan. 25; Janes Defense Weekly speculated that the nation is India because the Heron I, which precedes Heron MK II, is fielded by India in the Central Asian region.

Bahrami pointed out that Israel recently made billions in military equipment sales to India including short- and medium-range missiles, drones, and joint development of an air defense system, and this buildup has caused a serious threat to Iran, China, and Pakistan.

“The IRGC is willing to change the game by targeting Israelis in India,” he said. India is disregarding Iran’s threats because the countries are jointly building the Port of Chabahar, he said.

“Chabahar Port is an economic corridor in which India isolates Pakistan and China in the Persian Gulf as well as gets closer to the EU and Russian market via Iran. It is not logical to say that India abandons all its economic interests including the need for gas or the Port of Chabahar.

“[Indian Prime Minister Narendra ]Modi should make clear to the Iranian regime that its proxy war has no place in India. Otherwise, Delhi will fall into crises with Jerusalem and Saudi Arabia as all Iran’s threats in India will apply to Saudi interests in the near future.”

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