Israel: All Magnet Bombs Must Have the Same Culprit

Israel has successfully gotten most major news outlets in the last few days to repeat their argument that because the bombs in Tbilisi, Delhi, and Bangkok are almost the same kind of bomb, they must have the same culprit.

Israeli officials said Wednesday that magnetic explosive devices found after a series of explosions in Bangkok on Tuesday were similar to bombs used a day earlier to target Israeli diplomats in New Delhi and in Tbilisi, Georgia.


But an Israeli official familiar with the probes of the incidents, in which Israelis are working with local investigators in New Delhi, Bangkok and Tbilisi, said their findings showed a strong similarity among the bombs in the three locations, …

“It looks like it’s exactly the same kind of device,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the subject.


The Israeli ambassador to Thailand, Itzhak Shoham, told the Associated Press that Thai police had found two magnetic bombs that could be stuck on vehicles. “They are similar to the ones used in Delhi and Tbilisi,” Shoham said.

Of course, they go on to argue that because the bombs are all the same they must have the same culprit. And therefore that culprit must be Iran.

There’s a logical problem here, of course, given that Israel has not exactly denied that it was behind the magnet bomb attacks–technically undertaken by Iranian nationals–that killed a number of Iran’s scientists. So according to Israel’s logic, doesn’t mean they must be the culprit for these bombs? They’ve been engaging in magnet bomb attacks perpetrated by Iranian national for years.

Not that I necessarily think that’s what’s going on, but if Israel insists on using loud accusations to pretend Iran would be doing anything more than retaliating for Israel’s own terror attacks, then it ought to have to have readers apply its logic consistently.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

9 replies
  1. DonS says:

    ” . . .it ought to have to have readers apply its logic consistently.”

    That would make blaming the bombings on Iran false flag attacks. Israel has plenty of experience with this.

    But the real point is, Israel squeals, the stenographers drool and fulminate.

  2. Jim White says:

    At least one of the early reports I skimmed on the Thai incident repeatedly mentioned “grenades”, especially regarding the attack on the taxi and the failed escape attempt where the bomber blew his legs off. I kept wondering if these guys had both magnetic bombs and actual hand grenades or if this was just some sort of loose translation from early Thai police reports.

    Is the current contention that all the explosives were magnetic, or is there still room for them to have had actual hand grenades, as well? In either case, though, it seems some forensic work on the construction of the explosives, especially those that haven’t been detonated, will provide very useful information.

  3. blowback says:

    According to recent reports from anonymous US intelligence sources, Mossad seems to have contracted this work to MEK. So the is an organisation of Iranians which has access to this magnetic bomb technology, it just isn’t the Iranian government.

  4. emptywheel says:

    @Jim White: I think the Israelis and Interpol are the only ones working between attacks–and the latter is not talking–so they’re asserting it with impunity.

    Also note, the guys in this recent Thai event had C4. Yet the Lebanese expoerter had fertilizer.

    If you had access to C4, why would you stockpile fertilizer for anything but fertilizer?

  5. Jim White says:

    @emptywheel: That’s interesting on the C4, I hadn’t seen it. I also had decided the fertilizer became irrelevant once magnet bombs were involved, assuming that other explosives were being used.

    One thing that’s puzzling on the India attack, though, is why the magnet bomb did so little damage. This was a small car and presumably not armored (wasn’t it a diplomat’s wife’s vehicle?), but the blast didn’t look to do that much harm. I’m still trying to decide between a bomb of very low power being used (which would fit the false flag scenario much better) and poor placement on the vehicle (which would fit an amateurish operative).

  6. William Ockham says:

    [The following scenario would be hilarious in a thriller novel, but is just sad in the real world where people are actually dying from this stuff. Also, it is entirely speculative.]

    Maybe these bombings were never intended to be successful.

    What if there is no logic problem at all? Suppose that Israel really is supplying MEK with all the magnet bombs, but that with all the public attention, decided to pull the plug on the operation. MEK might not like that and might try to pull off their own false flag operation to incite more confrontation between Iran and Iraq, assuming the Israelis wouldn’t recognize their own tools being used against them. In that case, the Israeli statements are really intended for MEK, a way of saying we know you did this and we are coming after you.

    Of course, if the Iranians had managed to capture a few Israeli-supplied magnet bombs, what better way to use them than to try to split the MEK/Israeli alliance of convenience by making the Israelis think the MEK had turned on them.

    I love me some Spy v. Spy between countries that are actually committed to the conflict. Much better than the old U.S.-Soviet crap.

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