Friday, April 18, 2014

18-Apr-14: In Thailand, a Hezbollah terrorist plot is thwarted

The home page of the website today focuses
on the men arrested in Bangkok
Terrorist attacks rarely end up being thwarted as comprehensively as the latest such attempt in Thailand. Verbatim quotes now, in bullet points, from today's edition of the Bangkok Post:
  • Assistant [Thai] national police chief Winai Thongsong said the men were arrested at different locations in Bangkok after Thai police received intelligence from Israel about a planned attack on Israeli tourists during Passover, the Jewish festival which coincided with Songkran... "If we had been unable to arrest the men during Songkran, a bomb attack would certainly have taken place somewhere on Khao San Road," he said.
  • The men have been identified as French-Lebanese national Daoud Farhat and Lebanese-Filipino national Youssef Ayad... Farhat held a French passport... Ayad carried a Philippines passport... The source also said Mr Ayad had given useful information to police... 
  • He admitted his group entered Thailand to carry out a bomb attack against Israeli tourists and other Israeli groups on Khao San Road during Songkran.
  • Both Mr Farhat and Mr Ayad are listed on the website, which collects information on suspected terrorist cells operating in Asia, and carries notices of financial rewards for information.
  • One of the men admitted to a planned attack on Israeli tourists in Khao San Road during Songkran, according to an investigator... They were arrested on suspicion of links to militant Islamist group, Hezbollah.
  • Both were born in Lebanon... authorities have yet to confirm if the travel documents are genuine.
  • Investigators believe at least nine suspected foreign terrorists connected to Hezbollah are somewhere in Thailand. Authorities are attempting to track them down.
All of which means the Thais are determined to prevent the suspect from engaging in future such adventures, right? Not exactly:
  • The two suspected foreign terrorists will be deported back to the last countries they travelled from immediately after Thai police finish questioning them. He did not name the countries.
  • National Security Council chief Lt Gen Paradorn Pattanatabut confirmed Thai authorities are focusing on the capture of another foreign terrorist.
Khao San Road scene courtesy of
About the website mentioned in the Bangkok newspaper report, Times of Israel calls an "Israeli anti-terror website... which gathers information on terror cells in East Asia." If that's right, the investment sunk into it paid welcome dividends this week.

Khao San Road in central Bangkok, Thailand, was once a major rice market. Over the past two decades, it has become better known as a world-famous backpacker attraction, offering cheap accommodation as well as being a hub for bus travel throughout Thailand. Wikipedia says the short street is also famous as 
a center of dancing, partying, and just prior to the traditional Thai New Year (Songkran festival) of 13 April to 15 April, water splashing that usually turns into a huge water fight. One Thai writer has described Khaosan as "a short road that has the longest dream in the world."
Thankfully, this latest dream of the Hezbollah jihadists ended without innocent casualties. But will the decision of the local authorities to throw them back into the arms of those who sent them mean smaller threats in the future, or larger?

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