Jerusalem, Feb. 16 – Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak escaped an assassination attempt during his Asian tour this week when a Hezbollah terrorist squad was arrested by Singapore authorities before the attack, the Kuwaiti Al-Jarida newspaper reported.
The report quoted Israeli sources saying an Iranian-Hezbollah hit team had detailed information on Barak’s itinerary during his current trip to Asia and planned to kill him at his hotel. Israeli security officials notified the authorities in Singapore and the members of the terrorist cell were arrested.
A string of terrorist attacks this week targeted Israeli diplomatic missions in Georgia, India and Thailand. Thai national police chief Priewpan Damapong said the Iranian suspects arrested in the Bangkok attack are believed to be connected with those responsible for attacks on Israeli diplomats in Georgia and India, theBangkok Post newspaper reported. Damapong said the bombs found by Thai authorities were similar to devices used in those countries.
The South Bangkok Criminal Court approved warrants for the arrest of four Iranians in connection with the incident. An Iranian national who fled from Thailand to Malaysia had been attempting to fly to Iran when he was arrested, the Malaysian government said Thursday.
In Israel, Vice-Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said the Iranians feared the severe international sanctions to halt their nuclear program. The extreme pressure was leading to Iranian reactions like the recent takeover by Iranian rioters of the British embassy in Tehran and threats by Iranian leaders to attack shipping in the strategic Straits of Hormuz.
“We cannot discount neither the ability and intentions of Iranian terror, nor the intentions of this (Iranian) regime to acquire nuclear weapons,” Yaalon said in a radio interview. “We are not alone in this. The entire Western world is recruited in either sanctions or other actions (against Iran).”
Iran installed homegrown nuclear fuel rods into a research reactor Wednesday, despite repeated United Nations and international sanctions calling for it to stop nuclear development and cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
A former senior member of the Israeli Mossad, Eliezer Tsafrir, told reporters at a briefing organized Thursday by The Israel Project that Iran would continue to pursue nuclear weapons despite international sanctions.
"Nearly every intelligence organization around the world is sure that Iran is pushing hard in order to reach nuclear weapons, and improve its capability of missiles to ranges as much as possible,” said Tsafrir, the last Mossad section chief in Tehran before the takeover by Ayatollah Khomeini. “Today they (missiles) reach every place in Europe, and in a short time they will reach even the range of America."