Iran says arrested British agent for twin bombings

Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Oct. 17 – An individual arrested in connection with Saturday’s twin bombings in the south-western city of Ahwaz has confessed to have received British training in Iraq to carry out the attacks, the Iranian Majlis (Parliament) deputy for the oil-rich city announced on Monday.

“The arrested individual is a deceived person who received the necessary training in Iraq”, Nasser Soudani told the Fars news agency, close to the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“Foreign agents, led by treacherous and criminal Britain, have trained teams in Iraq to create insecurity and an air of fright and terror in the province of Khuzestan”, Soudani said, referring to the ethnic Arab-dominated province whose capital is Ahwaz.

Saturday’s twin bombings in a central Ahwaz shopping centre left at least six people dead and over 100 injured.

Soudani said that two British intelligence agents arrested last month in the southern Iraqi city of Basra had ties to both the bombings on Saturday and a similar spate of bombings in the volatile city earlier in June.

British officials have said that the pair were MI5 agents working to uncover Iranian support for the insurgent attacks against British troops in southern Iraq.

Iranian officials and state-run press have been advertising the idea that Britain was behind Saturday’s bombings, a charge denied by the British embassy in Tehran. On Sunday, hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the state-run ISNA news agency that he suspected British involvement in the attacks. “We are very suspicious about the role of British forces in perpetrating such terrorist acts”, Ahmadinejad said.

“Our people are used to these kind of incidents, and our intelligence agents found the footprints of Britain in the same incidents before”, Ahmadinejad said, adding “We think the presence of British forces in southern Iraq and near the Iranian border is a factor behind insecurity for the Iraqi and Iranian people”.

A demonstration has been planned to take place this morning outside the British embassy in Tehran against London’s position regarding the Islamic Republic’s suspected nuclear weapons programme at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Some analysts see a link between the spate of recent attacks on British forces in southern Iraq and the hardening anti-British voices in Tehran.

“Iranian rulers are clearly fuming over what they perceive as Tony Blair’s government coaxing the European Union towards a tougher position on Iran’s nuclear program”, said Simon Bailey of the London-based Gulf Intelligence Monitor. “They hope to isolate the British position within the EU by linking it to bombings in Ahwaz, but no one is buying this”.