msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 2/17/2012 4:26:31 AM ET 2012-02-17T09:26:31

Three Iranians detained for allegedly plotting bomb attacks in Bangkok on Israeli diplomats apparently had more than terrorism on their minds: Police said Friday the men had also cavorted with prostitutes at a Thai beach resort.

The news emerged as authorities announced they were searching for two more suspects in the botched bomb plot, including a possible explosives specialist who may have been training the Iranians.

The foiled plan was discovered Tuesday when explosives in the men's rented house blew up by mistake, forcing them to flee.

Two were detained in the Thai capital, and a third was captured Wednesday in neighboring Malaysia as he reportedly tried to return to Iran.

After flying into the southern city of Phuket on Feb. 8, the men moved to Pattaya and stayed there for at least two nights before heading to Bangkok.

Located 45 miles southeast of the Thai capital, Pattaya is particularly notorious for its sleazy sex industry and large contingent of prostitutes.

Hookah pipes and beer
The Iranians hung out with several female sex workers during their stay there, and one of the women was brought to Bangkok to identify the suspects on Thursday, Lt. Col. Noppon Kuldiloke, a senior immigration police investigator in southern Thailand, said.

A cell phone image taken by one of the women, published by the Bangkok Post with an article headlined "Suspects partied in Pattaya," purportedly showed the three Iranians at a Middle Eastern bar or restaurant surrounded by hookah water-pipes, two of them cradling women in their arms.

The men posed for the photo around a low, drink-filled table on which there appeared to be at least one bottle of beer.

The woman who took the image said one of the now-detained suspects, Mohammad Kharzei, had asked her to escort him "because he was not good at speaking English," according to the Bangkok Post.

Thailand: Iranian planned terror attack on Israeli diplomats

She said she brought two companions for Kharzei's friends, and they had drinks and played snooker together.

The woman, named by the Post only as Nan, detected nothing awry, except when one of the Iranians "barred her from approaching a closet" in his hotel room, the newspaper reported.

Image: Surveillance video images of Iranian bomb suspects Saeid Moradi, Mohammad Kharzei and Masoud Sedaghatzadeh.
AP
The three Iranian bomb suspects, identified by police from left, as Saeid Moradi, Mohammad Kharzei and Masoud Sedaghatzadeh, are seen in surveillance video images Tuesday walking down the middle of a street in Bangkok, after the first blast at an explosives-filled house where the three were staying in.

"What we got from Ms. Nan is circumstantial evidence that helps confirm to us that they were here together in Pattaya," Thawatchai Nongbua, inspector of Chon Buri Immigration Office, told the Post.

Signs of stress
National police chief Priewpan Damapong told the paper that Khazaei had been showing signs of stress and had refused to eat in custody at the immigration bureau.

So they took Nan to see him and afterward Khazaei appeared more relaxed and agreed to have some food, the officer said.

US official: Iran 'unlikely' to provoke conflict

The botched plot has ratcheted up tensions between Iran and Israel, which is accusing Iran of waging a covert campaign of state terror that included a bombing Monday in New Delhi that tore through an Israeli diplomatic vehicle, wounding an Israeli diplomat's wife and driver, and a failed bomb attempt the same day in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

Video: Thai blast could escalate Mideast tensions (on this page)

Iran has denied responsibility for all three bomb plots, and blames the Jewish state for the recent killings of Iranian atomic scientists.

Thailand's national police chief said Thursday that the detained Iranians were plotting to attack Israeli diplomats, citing the similarity of so-called "sticky" bombs that can be attached magnetically that were used in New Delhi and Tbilisi.

Footage
On Friday, Bangkok police commissioner Lt. Gen. Winai Thongsong announced authorities were searching for two more suspects in the case, including one man who was seen early Tuesday on closed circuit camera footage as he left the same house where the accidental explosion later took place.

Police said the man was seen leaving the residence with a bag in his hand, and had been coming and going repeatedly in the days prior to that.

Strait of Hormuz: Iranians, smugglers and fireworks

The same cameras captured each of the three Iranian men leaving the residence shortly after an explosion ripped the roof of the house that afternoon.

Winai said the newest suspect was 52 years old and of Middle Eastern descent, but gave no other details and did not give his nationality.

He said police also are looking for an additional suspect who had rented the destroyed home with an Iranian woman named Leila Rohani who is now believed to be back in Tehran.

Besides Kharzei, the two other detained suspects are Saeid Moradi, whose leg was sheared off by explosives he was carrying on a busy Bangkok street as he tried to flee, and Masoud Sedaghatzadeh, who was arrested in Malaysia and was trying to return to Iran.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: Bangkok bombing linked to Iran

  1. Closed captioning of: Bangkok bombing linked to Iran

    >>> an apparently bungled attack as two explosions tore through a busy neighborhood, wounding four thai civilians. police captured two iranian nationals. and in syria, the regime unleashed more deadly fire on civilians in the city of homs today. some of it on the ground there said it was the most intense shelling since the regime escalated its crackdown more than a week ago. back in

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