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, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid