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Chalerm Denies Threat Of Terror: Thailand

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Chalerm denies threat of terror

The Nation

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Following US Embassy warning to Americans, Thai authorities confirm arrest of suspect linked to Hezbollah

Senior Thai officials scrambled yesterday to deny that Thailand faced an immediate terrorist threat, following a dramatic warning by the US Embassy to Americans living here.

The Thai authorities, led by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung, however, confirmed the arrest of a terrorist suspect and admitted that security was being stepped up. The officials, however, were ambiguous and even confusing in their statements, and the US ambassador to Thailand insisted afterwards that the embassy warning "still holds".

Chalerm said police had detained a Lebanese man with suspected links to the Hezbollah militant group. In other interviews earlier, Chalerm had talked about two arrests.

The Thai Foreign Ministry and the police both said the Bangkok government had been on a constant terrorist alert for some time, but the situation was now "under control" following cooperation with international intelligence authorities and stepped-up local measures.

Unclear, of course, was the status of the person or persons in custody. The latest information indicated that only one person was interrogated and no charge had yet been levelled.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra also said the situation was under control, and that the alert was nothing unusual.

Surveillance intensified

An intelligence source told The Nation that one foreign man had been detained, but he was one of a few suspected terrorists who have entered the country. The man was still in custody yesterday but he had refused to give any statement, according to the source.

"This suspect has entered Thailand many times," the source said. "Security measures have been on-going. Police in plain clothes have been deployed at Khao San Road and surveillance has also been intensified in Pattaya."

The Thai government's frantic denial of an immediate and serious terrorist threat came hours after the US Embassy posted on its home page the no-nonsense warning, which Ambassador Kristie Kenney would describe later in one of her tweets as "real and Bangkok specific".

"Foreign terrorists may be currently looking to conduct attacks against tourist areas in Bangkok in the near future," the US Embassy in Bangkok said in the emergency message posted on its website.

"US citizens are urged to exercise caution when visiting public areas where large groups of Western tourists gather in Bangkok."

Thai officials said the man in custody had suspected links to the Hezbollah militant group.

A senior Thai intelligence officer, who did not want to be named, told news agency AFP that the Kingdom had been informed before the New Year by Israel of a possible threat. The suspect was detained on Thursday while the other man had already fled the country, he said.

'Nothing to worry about'

Chalerm told AFP by telephone that the detained suspect was being questioned by Thai authorities.

"We already have one suspect in custody for interrogation at a government building in Bangkok. He is a Hezbollah from Lebanon," he said.

"I want to assure people that there is nothing to worry about. The police will take care of the situation and everything will be under control."

Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha seemed to take the threat more seriously. He said security would be increased yesterday evening if no more information emerged on the hideout of other suspects.

According to Yuthasak, quoted by Thai Rath online, Israelis living in Thailand were feared to be targets, a situation that naturally worried the American Embassy. He said the feared period of attack was between January 13-15.

In response to a Twitter inquiry after the Thai government's denial of immediate threat, the US ambassador said that her embassy's warning to American citizens remained in effect.

Hezbollah, an Iranian- and Syrian-backed Muslim Shi'ite group, is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Washington and currently dominates the Lebanese government.

"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 told AFP.

"These two men entered Thailand a while ago but did not conduct any terrorist activity. I wonder why Israel was suspicious about them."

After last year's devastating flooding, the embassy warning is another blow to Thailand's tourist-friendly image, adding to years of political turmoil that sometimes turned violent and bloody.

In August 2003, alleged mastermind Riduan Isamuddin, an Indonesian known as Hambali, was arrested in Thailand. He was suspected of being al-Qaeda's representative in Southeast Asia and operational chief of the Southeast Asian militant group Jemaah Islamiyah.

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-- The Nation 2012-01-14

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Lebanese detained for questioning on terrorist threat in Bangkok

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BANGKOK, Jan 14 - Thai Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung said on Friday that a Lebanese man with suspected links to a militant group in Lebanon was being questioned after the US embassy in Bangkok issued a terrorist threat warning in the capital on Friday afternoon.

The website of the US embassy in Bangkok published the warning, urging all Americans living or visiting in the Thai capital to be on high alert when "visiting public areas where large groups of Western tourists gather in Bangkok".

Deputy PM Chalerm added another Lebanese man from the same group was being called for questioning. Both are allegedly from Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim militant group in Lebanon.

He said so far there was no evidence that the suspect had committed any crime, so all the Thai authorities could do is to question him under immigration law.

According to Mr Chalerm, the government had been tipped off by the US authorities of the movement of the two suspects before New Year. The investigation could not be disclosed to the public, but he said the situation in the country is under control and that more police were ordered on duty at tourist attractions.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Friday also called on the public to stay calm and said the warning by the US embassy was not new.

The government has been keeping a close watch on the issue after being tipped off for some time, she said, adding that she assigned the National Intelligence Agency and National Police Bureau to keep an eye on such moves closely.

The premier assured the public that the government has put in place strict security measures as well as security personnel to ensure safety in public venues.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information Department Director-General Thani Thongpakdee spoke of the message warning by the US embassy in Bangkok that the Thai government has received this information for awhile and has cooperated with Thai and foreign security agencies to have more measures for security concerns.

So far, other embassies to Thailand have not issued the same kind of warning, Mr Thani said. (MCOT online news)

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-- TNA 2012-01-14

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Thailand detains suspect after US attack warning

BANGKOK, January 14, 2012 (AFP) - Thai authorities said Friday they had detained a Lebanese man with suspected links to the Hezbollah militant group, after the United States warned of a threat against tourists in the kingdom.

"Foreign terrorists may be currently looking to conduct attacks against tourist areas in Bangkok in the near future," the US embassy in Bangkok said in an emergency message posted on its website.

"US citizens are urged to exercise caution when visiting public areas where large groups of Western tourists gather in Bangkok."

A senior Thai intelligence officer who did not want to be named told AFP that the kingdom had been informed before the New Year by Israel of a possible threat.

The suspect was detained on Thursday while the other man had already fled the country, he said.

Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung told AFP by telephone that 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 is a Hezbollah from Lebanon," he said.

"I want to assure people that there is nothing to worry about. The police will take care of the situation and everything will be under control."

Hezbollah, a Muslim Shiite group backed by Iran and Syria, is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Washington and currently dominates the Lebanese government.

"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.

The suspect has denied involvement with any terrorist activities, he added.

Israel would not confirm or deny a role in the arrest, but urged its citizens to avoid Bangkok because of what it called "a serious and imminent danger".

The warning is another blow to Thailand's tourist-friendly image, which was badly dented last year by devastating flooding across much of the country, as well as rounds of rival political protests in recent years.

In 2008 a nine-day blockade by "Yellow Shirt" protesters stranded tens of thousands of travellers, and the industry was badly hit again in 2010 during "Red Shirt" street demonstrations.

Bangkok's central shopping area was reduced to a battle zone during an army crackdown on the rallies, and more than 90 people were left dead.

An shadowy eight-year-old insurgency continues to plague the country's Muslim-majority deep south, but the rebels have never been known to attack outside of the region.

The southern insurgents are not thought to be part of a global jihad movement but rather are rebelling against a long history of perceived discrimination against ethnic Malay Muslims by governments in the Buddhist-majority country.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra told reporters that authorities in the kingdom had the current situation under control.

"I would like to tell our people and tourists that there is nothing to worry about," she said.

In the most prominent terrorist attack in Southeast Asia in recent history, 202 people -- most of them foreign tourists -- were killed in 2002 by bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali.

In August 2003, alleged mastermind Riduan Isamuddin, an Indonesian known as Hambali, was arrested in Thailand.

He was suspected of being Al-Qaeda's representative in Southeast Asia and operational chief of Southeast Asian militant group Jemaah Islamiyah.

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-- (c) Copyright AFP 2012-01-14

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"A senior Thai intelligence officer, who did not want to be named, told news agency AFP that the Kingdom had been informed before the New Year by Israel of a possible threat. The suspect was detained on Thursday while the other man had already fled the country, he said.

'Nothing to worry about' "

For some reason that comment DOES make me worried.

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"A senior Thai intelligence officer, who did not want to be named, told news agency AFP that the Kingdom had been informed before the New Year by Israel of a possible threat. The suspect was detained on Thursday while the other man had already fled the country, he said.

'Nothing to worry about' "

For some reason that comment DOES make me worried.

Yes nothing to worry about, go about your business, we have taken all steps to prevent flooding, sorry I mean terrorism in Thailand. No bad people in Thailand move along.

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"I want to assure people that there is nothing to worry about. The police will take care of the situation and everything will be under control."

Somehow this statement is not very reassuring.

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It appears to me that there has been an escalation in the number of terrorist related attacks and deaths in the south since the PTP took over and they seem to do very little about it.

Why should anyone believe that they will manage things better in Bangkok with the abundance of arms available?

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Remember the same kind of people said Bangkok, would not flood. There only concern is loss of money from tourism. Lives mean nothing!

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Like most muslims that visit Thailand they were only here for the beer and cheap sex. Of course he can't sat that to the BIB, if it was released to the press he may well face repercussions when he gets home.

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The suspect was detained on Thursday while the other man had already fled the country, he said.

is it just me or does it appear they are very sure that he left the country, indicating that they seen him leave. why did they not stop him and at least question him ?

hes gone now, not OUR problem anymore. mai pen rai perhaps !

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Police reveal sketch of middle eastern man, suspect for possible terrorist attack in Thailand; security stepped up at tourist spots /MCOT

RT @terryfrd: Sketch of the man police want for questioning in relation to alleged terrorist threat via Post Today http://yfrog.com/od5nozvj

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Police reveal Lebanese suspect in custody is Atris Hussein, 48; evidence of him involved in terrorist plot /TANN

Police reveal suspect in custody is Lebanese Atris Hussein, 48; evidence supports his involvement in terrorist plot via @js100radio /TANN

Police release sketch of 2nd suspect who's Middle Eastern and over 180cm tall via @js100radio /TANN

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Police say security tightened at Khaosan, Rambutri and Sukhumvit Soi 23 via @js100radio /TANN

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