That information led investigators in Delhi to conclude that the operations in Delhi and Bangkok were "unrelated".
Despite the fact that a group of Iranian passport-holders were clearly involved with highly lethal bombs in Bangkok, there is good reason to doubt that they were working for Iran's IRGC or Hezbollah. They spent their first three days in the country with Thai prostitutes at Pattaya. That profile suggests Iranian mercenaries, like the former kickboxer hired by Mossad to assassinate Iranian scientist Massoud Ali Mohammadi in January 2010, rather than Iranian or Hezbollah operatives.
In the larger context, it is very difficult to believe that Iran would have chosen New Delhi as the location for revenge against Israel, given the importance of India as a buyer of Iranian oil and India's delicately balanced political-diplomatic position in the larger conflict.
India had just replaced China as Iran's single biggest crude oil customer, having increased its imports to roughly 550,000 barrels a day in January, which compensated for a drop in sales to China. And the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had resisted pressure from the United States and Europe to reduce its purchases from Iran, even working with Iran to find ways to get around the planned sanctions against Iran's National Bank. India's Commerce Ministry was planning a large business delegation to Iran to discuss increased trade.
India had thus taken on the role of potential "spoiler" in the Western sanctions strategy against Iran. This central geopolitical reality prompted New Delhi's "Economic Times" to ask, "Why would Iran go and poke its finger in the eye of its best customer, especially knowing full well that Israel will use even the flimsiest excuse to put the blame on it?"
Indeed, it was Israel, not Iran that stood to gain politically from the terrorist car bomb in Delhi. Israel was well aware that a terrorist bombing in Delhi that could be blamed on Tehran was a potential lever to change India's policy toward Iran. As an Israeli official told the Wall Street Journal, if India were to adopt Netanyahu's position that Iran was responsible for the bombing, it would take the India-Iran relationship to "a whole different level".
Nearly two weeks before the bombing, Israel acted to ensure that Indians would assume that a terrorist attack in Delhi on that date had been carried out by Iran. A letter to the Delhi police on February 1 signed by the Israeli Deputy Chief of Mission in Delhi and the First Secretary responsible for security expressed concern that Iran and Hezbollah would take revenge on the anniversary of the Mugniyeh assassination by carrying out terrorist actions against Israelis. It also referred to the possibility of Iranian revenge for the assassination of the Iranian nuclear scientist Mustafa Ahmadi Roshan on January 11. Although the letter did not specify that an attack might take place in Delhi, Mossad chief Tamir Pardo led a delegation of intelligence officials on a visit to Delhi around the same time and turned over a list of 50 Iranian nationals with the request that they be kept under surveillance.
The Israeli letter referred to an alleged Hezbollah terror plot against Israelis that had been broken up in Bangkok in January. But the idea of a Hezbollah plan to kill Israelis in Thailand had come only from Israeli intelligence - not from any local sources. The Thai police detained Hussein Atris, a Swedish-Lebanese, in January only because Israeli intelligence officials had told them they "suspected" that he and two other Lebanese, whom they claimed were linked to Hezbollah, might carry out terrorist attacks at tourist sites popular with Israelis.
Atris admitted to owning large supplies of urea fertiliser and ammonium nitrate, which are ingredients in bombs, but Thai investigators concluded that they were not connected to any terror plot in Thailand, because of the absence of any other bomb components. The head of Thailand's National Security Council, General Wichean Potephosree, a former chief of police, expressed doubt that Atris was a terrorist, as Israel had claimed.
After the Bangkok explosion, the Israelis renewed the claim of an Iran-Hezbollah terror threat in Bangkok, alleging that the bombs found in in all three capitals in mid-February were "exactly the same kind of devices". But we now know that was not the case.
We may never be able to establish with certainty what happened in Delhi, Bangkok and Tbilisi earlier this month, but the evidence that has come to light thus far doesn't support the widely accepted notion that Iran and Hezbollah were behind it. That evidence is consistent, however, with a clever Israeli "false flag" car bombing operation that would not injure the passenger but would serve its broader strategic interests: dividing India from Iran and pushing US public opinion further towards support for war against Iran.