Destroyed motorbikes are pictured at the scene of devastation after a bomb exploded outside a religious shrine in central Bangkok late on August 17, 2015.
(photo credit: AIDAN JONES / AFP)
As Thai authorities continue to hunt for the perpetrator of the explosions that killed at least 21 people outside a famous Hindu shrine in Bangkok, experts across the world are trying to piece together who could be responsible for the carnage.
According to Dr. Shaul Shay, a senior research fellow of the International Police Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, the bombing raises a number of questions and indicates several possibilities for who could be responsible.
Shay said the bombing may have been linked to internal Thai political conflicts that have turned violent in the past, or to extremist Muslim groups in the country’s south, who have long carried out attacks as part of their struggle to gain autonomy for the Patani region on the Malaysian border. He said investigators will be looking at the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah (Islamic Congregation), whose leader Abu Bakar Bashir last year swore allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi from behind the walls of an Indonesian prison.
Bangkok Jewish community on high alert, but still maintaining a brave face
Finally, Shay, a former deputy head of the National Security Council and a retired IDF colonel, said there may even be the possibility that the bombing was a mistake, a so-called “work accident” perhaps indicating why no claim of responsibility has yet been made. He used the example of the Hezbollah and Iranian cell busted in Thailand in 2012, and said it may possibly not have been linked to internal Thai politics or Islamic extremists from the country’s south.
The particular method used – the laying of an improvised explosive device – could indicate which groups were more likely than others to carry out the attacks, but not definitively.
“You can hurt very many people with an explosive device,” he said. “Usually groups like Islamic State and al-Qaida prefer suicide attacks though because they are able to guarantee the time and place it will be detonated and there is also a psychological effect that is created. Still, those groups also use different means at times.”
Either way, in the days to come a claim of responsibility could still be made Shay posited, depending on what the perpetrators need.
“One reason that there hasn’t been a claim of responsibility could be that those who placed the bomb and their accomplices need time to flee and will only do so afterwards. An organization that has put in the investment to carry out an attack like this is also going to want to reap the dividends,” he said.