Israeli intelligence chief: Iran wants Israeli leaders to ‘think twice before they order an attack on an Iranian scientist’

Less than two weeks ago, Yoram Cohen, the head of Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence service, warned that Iran would not allow assassinations of its nuclear scientists to continue without retaliation. Haaretz reported:

Lecturing at a closed forum in Tel Aviv, Cohen said that Iran believes Israel is behind the attacks on its nuclear experts, which have killed four scientists since November 2010. “It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not that Israel took out the nuclear scientists,” Cohen said. “A major, serious country like Iran cannot let this go on. They want to deter Israel and extract a price so that decision makers in Israel think twice before they order an attack on an Iranian scientist.”

Commenters at the Washington Post, this site, and elsewhere, have been quick to suggest that the bombing in India and attempted bombing in Georgia could have been false flag operations initiated by Israel. Iranian officials have likewise made the same accusation.

This possibility strikes me as wildly improbable for several reasons.

Firstly, Mossad — like any other intelligence service — relies on the support of Israel’s foreign service staff. As deeply committed Zionists as they all might be, for Mossad to injure or kill Israeli diplomats would be impossible to justify and breed massive distrust between two government agencies that depend on each other.

Secondly, Israel doesn’t have too many friends but it counts India as one of them. It’s an alliance that’s worth more to Israel than it is to India. Why put that in jeopardy for a stunt like this?

A much more obvious explanation for these attacks is the one ventured by the head of Shin Bet: Iran is telling the Israelis they can’t continue their campaign of assassinations with impunity. And beyond that there is probably a wider implicit warning: to those who claim that Israel could launch a military strike on Iran without suffering a significant reprisal — think again.

Luckily for Tal Yehoshua Koren, the wife of an Israeli Defense Ministry representative to India, who was injured in today’s attack, she seems to have learned from the example of Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, who survived an assassination attempt in November 2010.

If you suspect someone has just attached a bomb to your car, jump out as fast as possible.


Haaretz adds: The bombings sparked the usual tough rhetoric from Israeli officials: Lieberman said Israel “would not overlook” the attacks, while Netanyahu vowed to “continue to act forcefully, systematically and patiently” against Iranian terror. Nevertheless, a harsh Israeli response is seen as unlikely.

One reason for this is that if, as is widely believed, Israel is behind a recent series of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists in Tehran, government officials presumably knew that Iranian revenge attacks were likely and took that possibility into account. Though an innocent diplomat’s wife cannot be compared to a scientist directly involved in Iran’s nuclear program, Monday’s attacks were still limited enough that they didn’t violate the “rules of the game.” Indeed, the modus operandi of the New Delhi bombing exactly mimicked that used to kill several of the Iranian scientists. Hence a direct Israeli military strike on either Hezbollah or Iran seems unlikely.

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7 thoughts on “Israeli intelligence chief: Iran wants Israeli leaders to ‘think twice before they order an attack on an Iranian scientist’

  1. blowback

    I could believe it was Iran if the only bomb attack was in Georgia (since Saakashvili is firmly in the pocket of the USA and Israel) or some other flea bitten country. But not the device in India since it is one of Iran’s major customers for crude oil.

  2. Colm O' Toole

    Who knows? I’m not sure what side I’d fall on.

    Could be Israeli false flag:

    As Blowback wrote Saakashvili is not only a puppet but a sneaky puppet. In the last week or so he made another request to join NATO. Also still remember the talk of Israeli security consultants during its war with Russia causing a bit of a stink. The India target could be Israeli punishment for India not only not cutting its oil deals but expanding them. Also would draw comparisons with similar recent acts like the bizarre Saudi Ambassador to DC story. Also Iranians are experts at unconventional attacks, if this was Quds Brigade you think they would have been more effective. After all two seperate attacks and no deaths. Almost like someone wanted an attack without the dead Israeli diplomats.

    Could be Iranian response:

    Elections in Iran are now only a week or two away so the leadership must be feeling the pressure of public demands for retribution for the dead scientists or at least warn off any Israeli-US attempts to stir trouble in the next few weeks. How would another scientist killed the day before election day play out in Iran? Those kinds of surprises they could do without. Smarter to warn the Israeli’s off in advance with this attack.

    Either way no sympathy for the Israeli’s from me. You cannot go around assassinating the rival side and then act outraged when that side assassinates a few back. If Israel assassinates Iranian scientists I say its open season on Israeli diplomats.

  3. dickerson3870

    As to the attack in India, one might wonder whether Pakistan’s ISI and/or Lashkar-e-Taiba might have assisted Iran.

  4. blowback

    Another candidate – the MEK. We know they have the necessary skills as Mossad almost certainly trained them. Their motive – a war for regime change by the US and the usual suspects.

    As for the ISI helping Iran, never! The ISI is too closely in bed with the Saudis and hard evidence of Iranian involvement in such an action would be all King Abdullah’s wet dreams coming true at once. If the Iranians were involved, and that is a big if, they would have done it all themselves to minimize blowback.

  5. pabelmont

    The assassination (attempt)s in Iran and now in India have produced a fog of guessing about “who done it” and what does it mean. Should Israeli leaders now be worried about Iran, or should they be comforted with the idea that black-flag expert Mossad was the culprit/hero this time in India? Or is there any way for them or anyone else to know?

    And just think, speaking of destruction without a known-attacker, of all those drones out there! Juicy! You wanted more fog-of-war? You’ve got it!

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