Jour­nal­ist ar­rested in New Delhi blast

Po­lice tie In­dian re­porter to sus­pect in at­tack on Is­raeli diplo­mat’s car

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY NIR­MALA GE­ORGE

NEW DELHI | Po­lice ar­rested an In­dian jour­nal­ist to in­ves­ti­gate pos­si­ble links to the bomb­ing of an Is­raeli diplo­matic ve­hi­cle last month in New Delhi, au­thor­i­ties said Wed­nes­day, the first ap­par­ent break­through in an at­tack that Is­rael blamed on Iran.

The Press Trust of In­dia said the sus­pect had claimed to work for an Ira­nian news or­ga­ni­za­tion, a re­port In­dian po­lice de­clined to con­firm. His lawyer said he had taken at least one re­port­ing trip to Iran on be­half of In­dia’s state broad­caster.

Though In­dian au­thor­i­ties have not im­pli­cated Iran in the bomb­ing, any leads that point in that di­rec­tion could com­pli­cate In­dia’s del­i­cate ef­forts to ward off grow­ing Western pres­sure and main­tain its strong eco­nomic ties with Tehran.

En­ergy-starved In­dia re­mains a large mar­ket for Ira­nian oil, and those pur­chases could blunt the ef­fect of in­ten­si­fied sanc­tions be­ing im­posed by the U.S. and Euro­pean Union to force Iran to roll back its nu­clear am­bi­tions.

“In­dia finds it­self be­tween a rock and a hard place over Iran,” said Arund­hati Ghose, a re­tired In­dian diplo­mat. “It’s a tough call for the gov­ern­ment, but one that New Delhi will have to con­front even­tu­ally.”

Po­lice ar­rested Syed Mo­hammed Kazmi on Tues­day af­ter in­ves­ti­ga­tions showed he had been in touch with a sus­pect they be­lieve may have stuck a mag­netic bomb on an Is­raeli diplo­mat’s car, po­lice spokesman Rajan Bha­gat said.

Po­lice said they searched Mr. Kazmi’s house over the past two days to gather ev­i­dence that might link him to the Feb. 13 at­tack, which wounded the diplo­mat’s wife, her driver and two other peo­ple in a nearby car. Po­lice did not say what ev­i­dence they found.

Mr. Kazmi, 50, ap­peared Wed­nes­day in court, where a judge al­lowed the po­lice to hold him for ques­tion­ing un­til March 27.

“My client has been falsely im­pli­cated. He is not an in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ist,” Mr. Kazmi’s lawyer, Vi­jay Ag­gar­wal, told re­porters.

Mr. Ag­gar­wal said Mr. Kazmi is a jour­nal­ist who had trav­eled to Iran while cov­er­ing the Iraq war for state tele­vi­sion and re­ported on is­sues re­lat­ing to Iran. He did not elab­o­rate or clar­ify when Mr. Kazmi had been in Iran.

The New Delhi blast came the same day a bomb was dis­cov­ered on an Is­raeli diplo­mat’s car in the for­mer Soviet repub­lic of Ge­or­gia.

The next day, three Ira­ni­ans ac­ci­den­tally blew up their house in Thai­land, and Is­raeli au­thor­i­ties said the sim­i­lar­ity be­tween their ex­plo­sives and the two ear­lier bombs linked Iran to all three in­ci­dents.

In­dian of­fi­cials have re­fused to as­sign blame while the in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues.

Is­rael has ac­cused Iran of wag­ing a covert cam­paign of state ter­ror­ism and has threat­ened mil­i­tary strikes on Ira­nian nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties.

An Is­raeli diplo­mat’s wife, her driver and two other peo­ple in a nearby car were in­jured when a mag­netic bomb is be­lieved to have been at­tached to the diplo­mat’s car and then det­o­nated.

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