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

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs