News / Asia

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

FILE - The Grand Palace in Bangkok, Apr. 10, 2014.
FILE - The Grand Palace in Bangkok, Apr. 10, 2014.
Thai authorities say they hope they have foiled the latest plot in the Southeast Asian country to attack young Israeli tourists.

Thailand’s police agency says security around locations frequented by Israeli tourists has been increased, although government officials deny published reports that as many as nine people linked to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah may still be at large in in the country.

A spokesman for the Royal Thai Police, Major General Piya Utayo, says security has been enhanced not only in Bangkok, but throughout the country.

Thai authorities say they hope they have disrupted plans for one or more attacks targeting Israelis by taking into custody two suspects.

The pair, natives of Lebanon, allegedly has ties to Hezbollah, considered by the United States and Israel to be a terrorist organization.

The arrested Lebanese men are identified as Daoud Farhat, who also holds French citizenship, and Youssef Ayad, who has a Philippines passport.  

The director general of the Thai Foreign Ministry’s information department, Sek Wannamethee, tells VOA News the two are being held on violating terms of their tourist visas, but they have not been charged with any more serious offenses at this time.

“Materials were found which could be linked to violent means. But on the Thai side we could not conclude that they are here to operate any terrorist activities. But the Thai authorities, the immigration office, decided to revoke their visas. So we have to go through procedures, using the Immigration Act,” said Sek Wannamethee.

A third suspect Thai authorities were alerted to by Israeli officials did not enter the country, according to officials here.

Published reports say information provided by Israel outlined plans to launch attacks at six locations in the Thai capital.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to release any details. A spokesman says the Israeli government is “confident the Thai authorities are taking whatever steps necessary.”

The attacks, according to Thai officials, would have taken place last week during the Thai New Year’s (Songkran) festival, which coincided with the Jewish holiday of Passover.

Media reports say some of the attacks were to target Bangkok’s Khao San Road, where young backpackers, notably Israelis, tend to congregate.

A senior research fellow at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, Yoram Schweitzer, says Hezbollah has a sophisticated operations unit outside its base in Lebanon and has repeatedly tried to carry out attacks in Thailand, as well as other countries.

“In the last two years they have tried extensively to do it abroad, not only in Bangkok, in Turkey, in India, in Azerbaijan. And in Bangkok itself they tried to do something like this in 2012. And we had an operation even in ’96 that was foiled due to an accident. So they have these capabilities, they have these intentions and it is definitely not surprising,” said Schweitzer.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek says authorities in Bangkok are aware of this and intend to foil any future attempts.

“Thai security agencies remain vigilant," he said. "They work closely with all security units, particularly with the Israelis and with other countries. Because the fact is that Thailand is a destination for tourists and it’s an aviation hub in Southeast Asia. That is one of the downsides of being an aviation hub.”

Thailand is a popular budget destination and jumping off point to other nearby countries for young Israelis after completing their compulsory military service. It is estimated that about 120,000 Israelis visit Thailand annually.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More