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FLASH ALERT: HIGH RISK OF ATTACKS AT ISRAELI EMBASSIES, CONSULATES, MILITARY BASES AND OTHER DIPLOMA

Updated: Jan 31

January 2021 | CTG CENTCOM Team



The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) is issuing a FLASH ALERT to Israel and all its overseas assets and offices including Embassies, Consulates, Military Bases, and other Diplomatic Offices and officials after an IED was detonated outside of the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi and a suspicious object was identified near to the Israeli Embassy in Paris, France. The Current CTG threat matrix indicates that there is a HIGH PROBABILITY that there will be further attacks at locations significant to Israel carried out by Iranian actors or Iranian allies. This assessment is underpinned by the numerous threats issued to Israel by Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) officials and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei that Iran will seek to punish those responsible for the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakrizadeh in November 2020. Iran vocally accused Israel of the assassination of its leading nuclear scientist and has vowed to seek revenge. This assessment is also based on rising tensions between Israel and Iran, especially in recent days as Israel’s top General has declared its military is refreshing operational plans against Iran; Israel has also attacked Iranian proxies in Syria in recent months.


On Friday, January 29, 2021, at around 1700 local time in New Delhi, India, there was a small explosion outside of the Embassy of Israel. The New Delhi police stated that the explosion was caused by a very low-intensity improvised device.[1] The explosion only caused damage to cars nearby and there were no casualties. An Israeli diplomat's wife was wounded when a bomb was planted under her car in New Delhi and a bomb was planted under an Israeli diplomatic car in Tbilisi, Georgia both on February 13, 2021.[2] Both of these attacks were blamed on Iran by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but Iran denied the allegations. Prime Minister Netanyahu has blamed the January 29 New Delhi attack on Iran although there is no evidence. India and Iran have both labeled today’s explosion as a terrorist attack, no one has claimed responsibility. January 29 marks the 29th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Israel and India.

On January 29, 2021, following the blast at the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, India, it was reported on social media and Israeli media that a suspicious package was found near a vehicle outside of the Israeli Embassy in Paris, France. There are no updates as to whether the package was an explosive device and no major news outlets have confirmed this report. There does not seem to be any significant history regarding Israel-France relations connected to the date of January 29. Regardless, two suspicious incidents happening at Israeli embassies requires an increase in security at global Israeli embassies.


We assess that Israeli embassies, consulates, and other diplomatic offices will continue to be targets. However, Israeli military bases and intelligence agencies should also increase security as they are likely to be a target as well. This assessment is based on the current incidents at hand along with other threats from Iran against Israel. It is possible New Delhi was a target because of potentially more relaxed security or because Iran is looking for plausible deniability as there are known terror groups in the area that Iran could easily blame the attack on. Attacks in India and an attempted attack in Paris could suggest that Iran is less capable to strike at the heart of Israel such as by attacking on Israeli soil. At this time, it is unknown what security measures were in place at the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi to explain why there were no casualties.


While Iran is most likely responsible for the attack, it is possible that the attack came from an anti-Israel terrorist group in India that is against Israel-India relations, specifically jihadist groups. The groups in India potentially responsible include Al-Qaeda (AQ), ISIS/Daesh, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Haqqani Network (HQN), Hizb-ul Mujahideen, and Terik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Since most of these groups are global, it is possible one of them was also involved with the suspicious package in Paris due to an increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric coming from France’s President Macron, combining their anti-Israel beliefs along with their anti-Western beliefs and dislike of President Macron. Again, this scenario is less likely than Iran being responsible but is worth noting and considering. Moreover, the violence in India and threat of violence in Paris today may inspire some of these many groups to carry out attacks of their own.


Since the explosion took place in New Delhi, India, and the suspicious item was found in Paris, France, we recommend that Israel increase security for all diplomats and government officials globally. Iran has a pattern of attempting to assassinate diplomats as was demonstrated in the leaked intelligence from September 2020 that showed Iran had considered an assassination plot against the US Ambassador to South Africa in retaliation to the killing of General Qassem Soleimani.[3] It is likely that, if unable to conduct more relevant directed attacks, Iran may seek to find vulnerabilities in Israeli security wherever they may occur.


CONCLUSION


CTG assesses that the current threat of targeted attacks against Israel by Iran is HIGH. It is the recommendation of CTG that Israeli Embassies around the world immediately enhance security patrols and cooperate with local law enforcement and intelligence agencies to remain vigilant and prepared for any potential threats. Our analysis indicates that the risk to Israeli Embassies or other interests overseas in nations where there is an established Iranian presence or Iranian militia activity is HIGH. We further consider the threat of violence to Israeli civilians both in Israel and abroad a MEDIUM-HIGH probability, particularly in Gulf states such as the United Arab Emirates where Israeli tourism is rapidly growing.


Based on these threat assessments, CTG recommends Israel issues warnings to their Embassies, Consulates, Military bases and other Diplomatic Offices to be aware of the current threat landscape and prepare for potential threats including suspicious packages or vehicles in the vicinity. In order to mitigate attacks, Israel should warn Iran that any attacks made against Israel, Israeli Embassies, or its interests abroad will be considered a terrorist attack and will be met with force. The United Nations, US, and other global powers should mediate where necessary in order to de-escalate tensions in the region. CTG, and in particular the CENTCOM Team, will continue to monitor the situation and respond to any threats to Israeli Embassies or other targets, as well as anticipate any potential tit-for-tat attacks against Iran by Israel which may further escalate conflict and exacerbate already heightened tensions between the two countries.



If any individuals are interested in learning more about security measures to protect their facilities and personnel, please contact The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) by Telephone 202-643-248 or email info@counterterrorismgroup.com



[1] Delhi blast: Small bomb detonates near Israeli embassy in Indian capital, BBC, January 2021. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-55862137

[2] Ibid.

[3] Officials: Iran weighing plot to kill U.S. ambassador to South Africa, Politico, September 2020 https://www.politico.com/news/2020/09/13/iran-south-africa-ambassador-assassination-plot-413831


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