NIA may take over blast probe near Israeli embassy; military grade explosive PETN used

Preliminary recoveries show the kind of explosive materials used “does not show an amateur hand behind it. Instead, it points to an attempt to launch a coordinated international attack with the purpose of sending out a message

Israel embassy
Security personnel inspect the minor IED blast near the Israel embassy Photo: PTI

As preliminary forensic reports reveal a sophisticated “nitrate based explosive” with shrapnels and a delayed timer were deployed in the IED blast on Friday, near the Israel embassy in New Delhi, the Union home ministry is contemplating handing over the case to National Investigation Agency (NIA), India’s counter-terrorist task force.

A final call to that effect will be taken on Monday, said newspaper reports. Israeli intelligence agency Mossad too is working with Indian security agencies to investigate the incident.

Since the explosion took place two days ago, multiple Indian agencies such as the National Security Guard, Delhi police special cell, Crime Branch and NIA among others have visited the crime scene to recover evidence. Initial recoveries have suggested that the kind of explosive materials used “does not show an amateur hand behind it,” investigators have told the media.

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Also Read: Israel embassy blast: Police recover note, suspicious vehicle spotted

Instead, clues point to an attempt to launch a coordinated international attack with the purpose of sending out a message. And, that the blast may have been “severe”, if the IED had not been kept in an isolated place. The materials used in the explosive were aimed at creating the maximum damage.

According to the Sunday Indian Express report however, preliminary forensic examination of the site and the bomb have established that the explosive used was PETN. Quoting sources in the security establishment, the report added that the military grade explosive, PETN is not easily available and has been used in the past by groups such as Al Qaeda for making bombs.

The IED, packed with ball bearings in a can was dropped in a flowerpot across the road from the Israel embassy on Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road. It went off at 5pm damaging a few cars parked nearby. Coincidentally, a similar bomb was found outside the Israeli embassy in Paris triggering suspicion of a coordinated planned attack on Israeli embassies across the world.

Also read: NSG team to analyse explosives from Israel embassy blast

Previously, in 2012 as well, when an Israeli diplomat’s car was attacked, explosives were found outside Israeli embassies in other countries as well. An Iranian group was suspected to be involved in the attacks but Iranian officials had denied it.

This time around too, investigators suspect some Iranian groups, though they admit that an Islamic State or Al Qaeda cannot be ruled out. The use of PETN suggests that it can either be a trans-national terror group or a group sponsored by a State. It was deliberately a low intensity blast signalling a message rather than intending to cause harm.

Moreover, the letter marked “to Israel Embassy ambassador” found at the blast site has described the explosion as a “trailer”. It also mentions two Iranian martyrs, Qasem Soleimani, the powerful army general, who was assassinated in a US drone strike last year and Dr Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s leading nuclear scientist.

Teheran has long suspected that Israel had a hand in their killings.

Meanwhile, Israel’s ambassador Ron Malka, has said that Indian and Israeli agencies were working together “to find out what happened, who is standing behind this”. He said that the embassy was on a high alert and they were not scared or deterred. We will continue to thrive and grow and expand relations with India, he reiterated.

Also read: Minor IED blast near Israeli Embassy in Delhi; cops suspect mischief

If the reason behind the “evil attack” was to sabotage India-Israel relations, they will not be successful since the two nations just celebrated the 29th anniversary of the establishment of foreign diplomatic relations between them, he said. It may or may not be a coincidence that it happened on the day of their celebrations, the ambassador added. However, he did not blame any country or group for the blast.

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