Friday’s arrest of a Lebanese suspect in Thailand has led to the discovery of 400 boxes of bomb-making material, and a severe travel warning posted by Israel and the United States remains in force. A second suspect has fled the country.
The intelligence information on the suspects was supplied by Israel, but a Thai intelligence officer previously said he did not understand why Israel suspected the men, who he said did not engage in any terrorist activity in the country.
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, who was killed in a car-bomb attack in Damascus in February of 2008.
Thailand’s prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra insisted that “we are currently in control of the situation” as the country fears the travel warnings will cripple its money-making tourism industry.
Thai police on Friday arrested a Lebanese man carrying a Swedish passport, who was linked with Hizbullah, the dominant political force in Lebanon that is financed in part by Iran.
The Lebanese suspect, Atris Hussein, told police where 10 pounds of urea and 10 gallons of liquid ammonium nitrate were being stored. Police said the material was for bombs for attacks outside of Thailand. However, other officials said that Israelis and Westerners could be targeted in the Bangkok area, a popular tourist spot for young Israelis.
"The suspect told us the bomb-making materials were not for terrorist attacks in Thailand, but were intended to be smuggled out of the country," national police chief Priewpan Damapong said.