Armed guards for 100 terror targets: Argentines link Iran to bomb attack on Israeli embassy and claim they warned Britain

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The Independent Online
ARMED POLICE mounted guard yesterday outside more than 100 potential terrorist targets in London as evidence emerged of a likely Iranian connection in Tuesday's bombing at the Israeli embassy and the blast early yesterday which shattered the offices of the Joint Israel Appeal.

In the face of Israeli accusations that the British police had blundered in not heeding warnings of bombing outrages, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Condon, announced the introduction of armed security and surveillance at buildings with Israeli and Jewish connections, along with parking bans to foil the bombers.

Adding to the controversy over the police response to the sudden resurgence of a Middle Eastern terrorist threat in Britain, there were unconfirmed reports from Buenos Aires that the Argentine authorities tipped off the British security services on Monday night about the threat of an imminent bomb attack in London. The Argentines turned up the evidence during investigations into last week's bombing of a Jewish centre in the Argentine capital in which 82 people are confirmed dead.

The Argentine evidence also points strongly to Iranian involvement in both the London and Buenos Aires attacks. Argentina appeared last night on the verge of expelling a number of Iranian diplomats, possibly including the ambassador, Hadi Solemanpour, who was asked to leave Spain in 1989 under suspicion of having organised Hizbollah terrorist operations in Europe.

The Iranian connection came to light at the weekend when Judge Juan Jose Galeano, heading the official Argentine investigation, went to Caracas to interview a recently defected Iranian diplomat, Monousher Moatamer.

The judge is reported to have received from him a list of suspects involved not only in last week's Buenos Aires attack but also in an attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in March 1992 which killed 29 people. Among those listed are reported to be a former Iranian soldier long resident in Buenos Aires and a number of people in the Iranian embassy in the city. Press reports say the Semtex explosives used in the attack were brought to Argentina in the Iranian diplomatic bag.

The Argentine President, Carlos Menem, said in an interview broadcast on Tuesday night that Mr Moatamer had predicted the London attack. The Iranian had 'even indicated the city where the attack would occur', the President said. Senior security sources in Argentina indicate that Britain was informed of this warning shortly after Judge Galeano had reported to the President late on Monday night (early Tuesday morning British time), and before the attack in London took place.

Asked if Scotland Yard had received a full report on the Buenos Aires bombing, David Veness, Assistant Commissioner, would only say: 'We're in contact with all services, and that is one of them.'

The head of the Anti-Terrorist Squad, Commander David Tucker, said on Tuesday that 'no specific intelligence' of an attack on London had been received.

Brigadier-General Azriel Nevo, Israel's military attache to London, said on Israeli radio that authorities in Britain had 'blundered'. He said that after the embassy bomb 'our people gave their evaluation to the British authorities that there was a danger now to Jewish institutions and, here you are - there was a (second) blast in the middle of the night.'

Sir Paul Condon insisted: 'We are at one with the Israeli agencies involved, and we are working with them to prevent any further terrorist attacks in London.'

Scotland Yard conceded that it was virtually impossible to guard against bombers who were prepared to risk their own death. Sir Paul said that a bomber who was prepared to trigger a device within moments of delivering it to the target was a 'potential suicide bomber'. Tuesday's bombing was carried out by a lone woman who parked a car moments before it exploded.

Sir Paul said the police faced a dilemma between security and maintaining everyday life. 'We're trying not to turn London into a fortress. We want the life of Londoners to go on as normally as possible . . . we are not prepared to impose a totally oppressive regime which undermines the quality of life for all Londoners.'

The Argentinian authorities yesterday arrested three Iranian suspects in last week's bombing, two men and a woman. The woman, an employee at the Iranian embassy, is alleged to have bought a delivery truck that served as the car bomb that destroyed the seven-storey building. Police say she was arrested at Ezeiza airport carrying a forged passport.

Despite official Iranian denials of complicity in either the London or Buenos Aires bombs, intelligence sources said the evidence pointed to Iran. All the operations would have required weeks, if not months of planning, they said. European intelligence services are constantly on the watch for activity by the Iranians and their allies but no unusual movements are believed to have been picked up before the latest wave of bombings.

Further reports, page 2

Leading article, page 17

Chaim Bermant, page 18