BANGKOK – The Royal Thai Police have apparently questioned three of four Syrian men sought for reportedly overstaying their 90-day visas and confirmed they are not among 10 Syrians linked to Islamic State (IS) who may have entered Thailand according to a report from the Russian Government.
The Russia’s intelligence agency warned Thai police in a memo of 10 Syrians with links to ISIS who entered the country with the goal of attacking “Russian interests.”
As investigations continue into the 10 men, three Syrian men have been identified by Police, they are, Abdul Aziz Arouk, 44, Nawfal Hassoun, 34, and Mouayad Hayati, 29, all from Syria.
Mr Arouk was detained at his rented home in the Lumpini area of Bangkok on Sunday. Mr Hassoun reported to Thung Mahamek police station to show his innocence, as did Mr Hayati who reported to Lumpini police.
The names and photographs of the three, along with a compatriot whose whereabouts is unknown, had appeared in local media as persons of interest to security authorities in the wake of the Russian warning.
The fourth man is identified as Hagop Kassabian, 57, who entered Thailand through Suvarnabhumi airport on May 16th, is still at large and Police are trying to locate his whereabouts along with the other remaining six men in the report from the Russian Intelligence report.
Acting Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) chief Sanit Mahathaworn and immigration police in the presence of Russian Ambassador Kirill Barsky, questioned the three others.
Pol Lt Gen Sanit said after three hours of questioning that the three men were not involved with the IS group and that they had been in Thailand before the Russian warning.
The Bangkok Post and other Thai media outlets reported a leaked police memo on Thursday, that Russia’s intelligence service had alerted the Royal Thai Police’s Special Branch Bureau about 10 Syrians linked to IS who might have entered Thailand between Oct 15 and 31 and were planning to attack Russian interests in the country. Police chief Chakthip Chaijinda later confirmed the leaked document was authentic.
Pol Lt Gen Sanit said Mr Arouk, who has overstayed his visa and will face legal action, came to Thailand to make a living as a singer in Bangkok. Mr Hassoun planned to open a restaurant with his Thai wife in Bangkok. His wife took him to the police to show his innocence.
On Saturday, Pol Gen Chakthip said authorities had not detected any movement in Thailand of Syrians linked to IS.