The US Embassy in Bangkok issued an “Emergency Message to US Citizens” that warned of “Possible Terrorist Threat.” The statement was released on the embassy’s website:
This message alerts U.S. citizens in Thailand that foreign terrorists may be currently looking to conduct attacks against tourist areas in Bangkok in the near future. U.S. citizens are urged to exercise caution when visiting public areas where large groups of Western tourists gather in Bangkok.
U.S. citizens are encouraged to maintain a heightened awareness when out in public; be alert for unattended packages/bags in public/crowded places and report any suspicious behavior to the nearest law enforcement personnel. We also encourage you to keep a low profile in public areas, particularly areas frequented by foreign tourists.
The statement did not indicate who might carry out the attack. Thailand has been plagued by a brutal Islamist insurgency in its southern provinces. The shadowy Islamist groups are seeking to break away from Thailand, and have received support from Jemaah Islamiyah, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Southeast Asia.
Jemaah Islamiyah is known to have a network in Thailand. Hambali, the Jemaah Islamiyah operations chief who was close to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, was captured in the city of Ayutthaya in 2003. He was thought to have been plotting attacks in Bangkok.
The threat appears to have originated from Hezbollah. One person has been arrested, according to the BBC:
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung said one man was being held over possible immigration offences.
The situation was now under control, he said, and urged people not to worry.
“Following concern raised by the Israeli embassy about a possible attack by a group of Lebanese terrorists in Bangkok, Thai police officials had been co-ordinating with Israeli officials since before the New Year,” Reuters news agency quoted Mr Yoobamrung as saying.
He told the Associated Press news agency police had been tracking the two men and called one in for questioning.
“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.
An official at the defence ministry told Reuters that Israel had contacted them on 22 December with information that two or three suspects could be planning an attack in Thailand, but that those individuals had left the country. A second warning came on 8 January, he said.
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