US warns of Bangkok terror threat

 

Thai police were questioning a Lebanese man with alleged links to Hezbollah militants as the US Embassy and Israel warned Friday of a "real and credible" terrorist threat against Americans and Israelis in Bangkok.

The warning comes during heightened tension over US and Israeli responses to the prospect that Iran is going forward with developing nuclear weapons. Lebanon-based Hezbollah, which has been accused of carrying out terrorist attacks in the Middle East since the 1980s, is avowedly anti-Israel and widely considered to act as a proxy for Iran.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung said Thai authorities received a tip-off before New Year's of a planned attack, which was said to target Israelis.

"At first we were told the Palestinians were behind it but it turned out to be the Hezbollah," he told The Associated Press. He did not say who provided the tip-off.

He said police detained on Thursday a Lebanese suspect with alleged links to Hezbollah.

Thai authorities had been "following two Lebanese men and called in one of them ... for questioning," Chalerm said. "Technically the two men have not committed any crimes under the Thai law, so we could only use the immigration law to keep this one suspect in custody," he said. He was not clear on what happened to the second suspect.

Chalerm spoke hours after the US Embassy in Bangkok sent an "emergency message" to American citizens earlier Friday warning of a possible terrorist attack.

The message said that "foreign terrorists may be currently looking to conduct attacks against tourist areas in Bangkok in the near future." It urged Americans to "keep a low profile" in public and to exercise caution in areas where Western tourists gather.

The statement gave no other details.

Ambassador Kristie Kenney told the AP the threat was "real and very credible." She didn't give any other information.

It was the first US warning of a foreign terror attack in Bangkok in recent memory.

In Israel, the prime minister's counterterrorism office also warned of "a clear and present possibility that a terror attack is planned against Israeli travelers in Bangkok."

It recommended that Israelis refrain from visiting Bangkok, not congregate at sites known to be associated with Israelis in Bangkok and not accept objects from strangers. Thailand is a popular destination for young Israeli backpackers.

Chalerm said the danger has passed.

"I want to confirm and I am confident that we have the situation under control. And I can guarantee ... no terrorist attacks will be allowed to take place. If they have disagreement, (they should) go fight somewhere else."

Thai Defense Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapa also gave an account of the alleged plot, saying preliminary intelligence suggested that an attack would be carried out between Jan 13 and Jan 15. He told reporters that keeping track of the suspects had been difficult, and if they had not been found by 6 pm Friday, there would have been "an escalation of security measures." He did not explain further what that entailed.

Yuthasak said Thai authorities had not released news of the alleged plot because it would hurt the tourist industry and cause panic. He said intelligence reports said the planned attacks might be related to the US activities concerning Iran.

Iran sees possible US complicity in a series of assassinations of its nuclear experts — the latest Wednesday, when scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was killed by a bomb attached to his car by a passing bicyclist.

Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim militant group, is the most potent military force in Lebanon, far stronger than even the national army. It is backed mainly by Iran and Syria.

Thailand has rarely been a target for foreign terrorists, although a domestic Muslim insurgency in the country's south has involved bombings of civilian targets.

In 1994, an attempt to bomb the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok was abandoned when the driver of a truck, packed with a massive car bomb, fled after a minor traffic accident. Several Iranians were arrested in connection with the attempt, but all were eventually released.

There have been several reported plots against the US Embassy in Bangkok in the past two decades, but no attacks.
 

AP

Suggested Topics
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Application Support Manager

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reigate...

** Secondary History Teacher Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £165 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

** Secondary Geography Teacher Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

** Female PE Teacher Urgently Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £165 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments