CHIANGRAI TIMES – Police in Thailand say an alleged terrorist plot aimed at Bangkok has been thwarted, though one of the men remains at large.
Thailand said it detained a Swedish- Lebanese man linked to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group who aimed to strike tourist sites in Bangkok less than three hours after the U.S. warned of a possible attack.
Thai officials have said the suspect has links with Hezbollah, a Shi’ite Islamist group in Lebanon backed by Syria and Iran that is on the official U.S. blacklist of foreign terrorist organisations.
Thai police are investigating Atris Hussein, 47, after taking him into custody at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport on Jan. 12 and are searching for a second suspect still at large, Piya Uthayo, a police spokesman, told reporters today
Hussein “plotted to create chaos in Bangkok and the plan was terminated after the arrest. The army was helping the police in providing security, army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters on Saturday. “People must be on alert and report anything suspicious,” he said.
National Security Council secretary-general General Vichien Potphosri said special measures had been put in place in risk areas including Khao San Road, an area popular with backpackers, and parts of the main Sukhumvit road.
“There’s still nothing too worrying … But we need to be on our guard,” he was quoted as saying on Thairath newspaper’s website.
Under Thai law, police can detain suspects for as many as 60 days before they must be charged or deported, he said.
The U.S. warned yesterday in an “emergency message” that “foreign terrorists may be currently looking to conduct attacks against tourist areas in Bangkok in the near future.” U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney said on Twitter the threat is “Bangkok specific” and “credible.”
U.S. Embassy spokesman Walter Braunohler said by phone the warning remains in place even after reports that Thai police were holding a suspect.