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
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker
TV
Life and Style
Instagram daredevils get thousands of followers
techMeet the daredevil photographers redefining urban exploration with death-defying stunts
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'
TVDaughter says contestant was manipulated 'to boost ratings'
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Maths Teacher

£85 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education require a ...

SEN Teacher - Hull

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are recruiting for spe...

Primary Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking EY...

Primary Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: NEWLY QUALIFIED TEACHER WE CAN HELP ...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor