Thailand Arrests Hizbullah Terrorist, Israel Warns Travelers
Authorities in Thailand said on Friday they had detained a Lebanese man with suspected links to the Hizbullah terror group, AFP reported.
The arrest was made after the United States warned of a terrorist threat against tourists in Thailand, the report said.
“Foreign terrorists may be currently looking to conduct attacks against tourist areas in Bangkok in the near future,” the U.S. embassy in Bangkok said in an emergency message posted on its website and which was quoted by AFP.
The message added, “U.S. citizens are urged to exercise caution when visiting public areas where large groups of Western tourists gather in Bangkok.”
A Thai senior intelligence officer told AFP that Israel had informed Thailand of a possible threat. He added that the suspect was detained Thursday while another suspect had already fled the country.
“Israel was suspicious that these two men might be terrorists, so they gave information, including their names, to our police before the New Year,” the senior intelligence officer said.
He said the two men had “entered Thailand a while ago but did not conduct any terrorist activity. I wonder why Israel was suspicious about them.”
Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister, Chalerm Yubamrung, told AFP the detained suspect was being questioned by the Thai authorities.
“We already have one suspect in custody for interrogation at a government building in Bangkok,” he said. “He is a Hizbullah from Lebanon.”
“I want to assure people that there is nothing to worry about,” he added. “The police will take care of the situation and everything will be under control.”
The Thai intelligence officer said the suspect has denied involvement with any terrorist activities.
Israel, meanwhile, would not confirm or deny a role in the arrest. Foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP that “Israel does not comment on security issues.”
Shortly after the suspected terrorist was arrested, however, the Counter-Terrorism Bureau issued a travel warning to Thailand, saying there is a possibility of an attack against Israeli tourists in the capital Bangkok.
The warning calls on Israeli tourists to avoid visiting the country, and asks Israelis living in Thailand not to visit places associated with Israel, to be extra vigilant, and to avoid accepting suspicious objects.
Israeli security agencies are on high alert at this time of the year, with the approaching anniversary of the 2008 assassination of senior Hizbullah leader Imad Mughniyeh.
Mughniyeh was killed in a car-bomb attack in Damascus in February of 2008, reportedly while in the midst of planning major terrorist attacks in moderate Arab countries.
Both Hizbullah and Syria blamed Israel for killing Mughniyeh, and Hizbullah has promised to avenge his death.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)