Radio bombs, mysterious stickers probed in Bangkok blasts

Authorities in Thailand have said the Bangkok bombings were intended for Israeli diplomats.

Story highlights

  • Bom expert says the devices looked capable of killing the passengers of a small sedan
  • Iran says it is willing to help identify those responsible for the bombings
  • Bombs were disguised as radio sets, police in Thailand say
  • Stickers with Arabic word referring to small bits of stone found in busy spots of Bangkok
A series of blasts last week in Thailand that set off accusations between Iran and Israel involved bombs disguised as radio sets, police said Wednesday.
The devices used explosive materials that are not available in Thailand and were likely smuggled in, police said.
Police are also looking at a series of stickers reading "SEJEAL," which were found in busy areas of Bangkok. In all, 18 have been collected so far from phone booths and street signs, authorities said.
"Sejeal" is an Arabic word found in the Quran, referring to small pieces of stone.
The Bangkok blasts did not kill anyone, and their intended targets are not clear, although authorities have said they were intended for Israeli diplomats.
They went off a day after a device attached to an Israeli Embassy van in New Delhi, India, exploded, wounding several people. Another device, found on an embassy car in Tbilisi, Georgia's capital, was safety detonated.
The Thai National Security Council has drawn a tentative link between the bombs in Bangkok and those in India and Georgia, saying the materials used in the explosive devices were similar.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blamed Tehran for the attacks. But Iran has denied the accusation, saying that "Israeli agents are often the perpetrators of such terrorist acts."
Arrest warrants have been issued for five suspects, all identified as Iranians. Three are in custody and charged, while two remain at large. Thai authorities are gathering evidence to seek an arrest warrant for a sixth suspect.
Iran suggested Wednesday that it was willing to provide some assistance in investigating the Bangkok bombings.
Ramin Mehmanparast, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, "expressed Iran's readiness to cooperate in identifying the culprits behind the Thailand explosions and to introduce them to the international community," the official Iranian Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported.
Claims that Iran was involved in the attacks "are fabricated and false and are prepared by the U.S. and the Zionist regimes," IRNA quoted Mehmanparast as saying.
The first bomb went off in a rental house in Bangkok believed to be leased to foreigners, according to Thai authorities. After the blast, two of the men left the scene while a third detonated two more bombs -- one when a taxi driver refused to give him a ride, and another when he tried to throw a bomb at police officers as they closed in on him.
The last bomb exploded near the man, blowing off his legs below the knee, authorities said.
Thai police released a photo of a radio set packed with explosives.
The devices include C-4 class plastic explosives material, round steel balls to increase destructive power, and round magnets. Police said the bombs were set to have a five-second delay to allow the bomber to escape.
They do not look like sophisticated devices, according to Jack Turner, who did three tours in Iraq with the U.S. Air Force, disarming and disabling improvised explosive devices.
For example, Turner said, the detonator looks as if it is simply the fuse from a military hand grenade, complete with a spoon-shaped release lever.
But the device still appeared capable of doing considerable harm.
"It could take everybody out in a small sedan," he said.