2 Iranians tied to Bangkok terror plot sentenced
Two Iranian nationals tied to a February 2012 terror plot in Bangkok, Thailand, were sentenced today by a Thai court. Saeid Moradi, 29, was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the bomb plot, which was intended to target Israeli diplomats. Mohammad Khazaei, 43, was given a 15-year sentence for the possession of explosives.
With regard to Moradi, the judge overseeing the case said that the Iranian was "guilty of carrying explosives in public, using explosives to attempt to kill officials and using explosives which caused the destruction of property." "Because attempted murder displays serious intent the court sentenced him to life in prison," the judge said.
On Feb. 14, 2012, a day after Israeli diplomats were targeted in India and Georgia, a series of explosions rocked the Ekkamai neighborhood of Bangkok and left at least five people wounded, included Moradi, who lost his legs. Reuters notes that Moradi lost his legs "when a bomb he was carrying exploded as he tried to throw it at Thai police," and he was subsequently arrested.
During the trial, the Iranian defendants contended they had been unaware of the bombs prior to finding them in their home. Moradi claimed, according to the Associated Press, that he was trying to dispose of the bombs.
Shortly after the incident, Thai police official General Prewpan Dhamapong said, "I can tell you that the target was specific and aimed at Israeli diplomatic staff." Prior to the bombing, the suspects, including Moradi and Khazaei, spent time with Thai prostitutes, according to press reports.
Thai authorities apprehended Khazaei at Bangkok's international airport as he was trying to flee. A third suspect, Masoud Sedaghatzadeh, managed to escape to Malaysia, but was subsequently arrested as he was preparing to board a flight for Tehran.
Reports last June suggested that a Malaysian court had approved the extradition of Sedaghatzadeh. He has not yet been returned to Thailand, and is currently appealing the decision.
A fourth suspect, Leila Rohani, who is believed to have rented the home used by the suspects is also wanted. However, according to the Wall Street Journal, authorities believe Rohani managed to return to Tehran. A fifth suspect, thought to be the bomb maker, is also still at large.
A couple of weeks ago, Malaysian authorities successfully apprehended Seyed Ramin Miraziz Paknejad, an Iranian national, known for ties to terrorist cells, and to human and drug trafficking networks. According to press reports, Paknejad had provided members of the cell involved in the February 2012 Bangkok plot with forged passports. The Bangkok Post said Thai authorities have formally requested that Paknejad be extradited from Malaysia.
Officials involved in the investigation have noted that the bombs, sometimes referred to as "sticky bombs," were similar to those used in Georgia and India. "According to the information and the evidence we've got from the scene, it was the same (type of) bombs as in India and Georgia. There were bombs with magnets being used to attach them to a car," the aforementioned General Prewpan Dhamapong said in February 2012.
Israeli officials told the Washington Post that the composition of the bomb pointed to "an Iranian connection." Authorities told ABC News, which released photos of one of the bombs, that the "devices were either slipped through airport security or smuggled in a diplomatic pouch."