Police are on high alert as security agencies are closely monitoring the movement of Iranian nationals and some Thai Muslims. These individuals are suspected to be working as spies in Thailand.
According to reports, Thailand’s national police chief, Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk, has ordered the Central Investigation Bureau, the Metropolitan Police Bureau, and all nine provincial police regions to gather intelligence on these people’s activities.
An alert was issued after Indonesian authorities received information that a man named Mr. Ghassem Saberi Gilchalan had arrived in the country with a fake Bulgarian passport.
Indonesian authorities arrested the man on May 27, just before he was due to leave for Qatar, at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.
According to the police, the man used a fake passport to enter the country. Police in Indonesia found he had entered the country more than ten times using false papers, and a court sentenced him to two years in prison.
Iranian captured in Indonesia
Indonesian police also found 11 mobile phones, one tablet computer, a number of SIM cards, and cash worth more than 320,000 baht in the man’s possession.
A review of his mobile phones revealed the names of Muslims from Thailand. Indonesian authorities also believe that the man was an Iranian spy.
The Iranian explained to police that a former Iranian diplomat had assigned him several assignments in Malaysia and Indonesia.
One assignment involved lobbying Indonesian authorities to release the Iranian Hulk-flagged MT Horse oil tanker that had been apprehended in the country’s waters in January last year.
The man also set up a company as a front in Bali that served as a safe house for his covert operations, the Indonesian police said.
“The exposure of the Iranian has caused a stir among several countries who are concerned about Iran’s secret operations and spies, which they perceive as a threat to national security.
Spies in Thailand
It is possible that similar operations are also being conducted in Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, Pol Gen Suwat said.
According to the Bangkok Post, the former diplomat and the man had visited Thailand several times, where they met prominent Shi’ite Thai Muslims with close ties to Iran.
Pol Gen Suwat said, due to this fact, it is possible that Iranian spies are also taking part in secret operations in Thailand using fake passports, while some Thais may also be employed as spies with financial assistance or other kinds of support.”
A number of concerns have been raised about Thailand hosting the APEC Summit [in November], to which world leaders are expected to travel. Security arrangements will be given top priority.
“We cannot afford violence or unrest,” he said, noting authorities wanted to prevent a repeat of the explosion at Sukhumvit 71 in February 2012.
An incident involving a bomb that exploded prematurely at a rented house in the area in 2012 resulted in the arrest and jailing of three Iranian men.
As part of a bilateral agreement, two Iranian prisoners, Masoud Sedaghatzadeh and Saeid Moradi were sent home in November 2020 to serve their sentences.
The third Iranian national, Mohammad Khazaei received a royal pardon in August of the same year.