News / Asia

    Thai Authorities Investigate Terror Links to Stockpiled Explosives

    Atris Hussein, a Swedish national of Lebanese origin, is escorted by Thai commandos upon his arrival at criminal court in Bangkok, Thailand, January 17, 2012.
    Atris Hussein, a Swedish national of Lebanese origin, is escorted by Thai commandos upon his arrival at criminal court in Bangkok, Thailand, January 17, 2012.

    Thailand is investigating a Lebanese man accused of stockpiling illegal explosives. His detention came after the United States and other nations issued a terrorism warning for Bangkok. Thai authorities objected to the warning, making it a rare public rift between the counterterrorism allies.

    Thai investigators on Tuesday said they are still questioning Atris Hussein, a Lebanese man with Swedish citizenship detained last week at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport.

    Authorities say they believe Hussein is linked to the Hezbollah militant group, which the United States considers a terrorist organization. Hezbollah denies he is a member.

    His detention was announced shortly after the U.S. Embassy issued a warning of a credible threat of a terrorist attack in Bangkok. Thai officials initially scolded the United States and several other Western nations that echoed the warning for not consulting them first.

    But on Monday, Thai police accused Hussein of possessing illegal explosives after he led them to a warehouse southwest of the capital, where they found tons of fertilizer and chemicals that can be used to make bombs.

    Despite the illegal haul, Thailand’s police Chief Priewpan Damapong insisted there never was a threat of a terrorist attack.

    He says officials are certain that Thailand is cleared from any attack and they believe the country was just a transit point for the explosives. With all the evidence that they have and the intelligence reports, he says there is no real threat to Thailand’s tourist spots such as Khao San road or anywhere else. However, police are still aware of the threat and will not underestimate the situation said Damapong.

    Analysts say Thai authorities were not happy with the terrorism warning. because of the potential impact on tourism and trade.

    Rohan Gunaratna, the head of the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore, says Hezbollah has demonstrated that it is a real threat to Thailand and the region.

    “The Lebanese Hezbollah has traditionally operated in Thailand," he said. "In fact, we have a number of cases of terrorists from the Lebanese Hezbollah group planning and preparing attacks in Thailand and the region. In the mid 1990s there were several plots by Lebanese Hezbollah uncovered. For example, there was a plan to hit the Israeli and the American embassies in Singapore and also in Thailand.”

    Gunaratna says Hezbollah was responsible for a failed car bomb attack on the Israeli Embassy in 1994. It was only narrowly avoided after the truck packed with explosives was in a minor traffic accident and the driver fled the scene.

    At times, Thailand’s anti-terrorism cooperation with the United States has been controversial.

    Thailand was alleged to be one of the first “black sites” where U.S. intelligence agents held and questioned terrorist leaders.

    The U.S.-Thai anti-terrorism cooperation is essential to keeping Thailand the region safe said Gunaratna.

    “The Americans have had sustained and continuous presence in Bangkok, funded and supported so many training programs and other forms of assistant to build counter-terrorism capacity in Southeast Asia," said Gunaratna. "And, Thailand is in many ways a key node [complication] for that cooperation that has kept this region safe from terrorism.”

    Despite the arrest of Hussein and confiscated explosives, the U.S. Embassy said the terrorism warning issued Friday still stands.

    Thai media reports indicate Hussein had at least one accomplice, who is still at large.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.