BANGKOK – Atris Hussein a Swedish National of Lebanese descent has been sentenced to 2 years and eight months in prison by a Thai court for illegally possessing chemicals that could be used to make bombs.
Atris Hussein, 49 years old, was arrested at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport in January 2012 as he tried to leave the
country, according to the police. After his arrest, Mr. Hussein led police to a commercial building he had been renting in Samut Sakhon, a province on the outskirts of Bangkok, where police said they found boxes containing more than 2,800 kilograms (6,200 pounds) of ammonium nitrate and 4,000 kilograms (8,800 pounds) of urea fertilizer, which can be used to make rudimentary explosives.
Thai authorities have accused Hussein of links to Hezbollah militants, an allegation that he denied. The Thai court said investigators didn’t show Hussein had links with Hezbollah. Mr. Hussein was traveling with two passports and entered Thailand at the time of his arrest with his Swedish passport.
Mr. Hussein’s arrest came after Thai police were tipped off by Israeli intelligence agents that members of Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shiite Muslim militant group, were planning to strike Thailand during the New Year’s holiday. The U.S. also warned Thailand of a terrorist threat in Bangkok against Americans at about the same time.
In March of this year, Mr. Hussein pleaded not guilty to possessing explosive materials and told reporters at a court appearance that he wasn’t a terrorist. Thailand’s Criminal Court on Wednesday found Mr. Hussein guilty of illegal possession of ammonium nitrate and confiscated all the chemicals and materials found.
The court reduced Mr. Hussein’s punishment from four years “due to his useful testimony during the investigation and hearing.”
Mr. Hussein hugged his wife and said he was “happy” with the court’s determination. His lawyer, Wittaya Buranasin, said he would appeal the court’s verdict of guilt within one month’s time.