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

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid