Atris Hussein 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang)
BANGKOK – The Swedish-Lebanese man accused of planning terror attacks in the
Thai capital told a Swedish newspaper on Thursday he had been framed by the
In an interview with Aftonbladet, Atris Hussein, who is being
held on terrorism charges at the Bangkok Remand Prison, insisted he was “100
percent not guilty.”
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The 47-year-old was arrested on January 16 after US
and Israeli officials tipped off the Thai government about a planned attack by
Hezbollah operatives on Thai soil.
Last Monday, at a shop rented by
Hussein in a suburb of Bangkok, Thai authorities seized a large cache of chemicals
that could be used to make powerful explosives.
“Much of the
material police found in my store had been placed there, probably by the Israeli
secret service Mossad,” Hussein told two Swedish journalists who visited him in
“This is a conspiracy.”
Hussein insisted he ran a small
legitimate export business out of Bangkok selling ice packs and electric fans to
customers in Azerbaijan and Liberia.
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Dennis Thern, one of the two Swedes
present at the interview, told The Jerusalem Post that Hussein suggested he had
been framed by Israelis because in Sweden he had voted for the left-wing Social
Democratic Workers Party, which “made me look suspicious in Mossad’s eyes.”
Hussein also denied being a Hezbollah operative.
“One evening I was taken
out of prison and was placed in a car that drove off with me to a house
somewhere,” he told the Swedish journalists.
“I was interrogated by three
men who apparently came from the Mossad. I have their first names. They
claimed that I lied about various things.”
The Israeli Embassy in Bangkok
declined to comment.
Hussein moved to Sweden in 1989 and became a citizen
in 1994. He worked as a barber in Gothenburg for a decade before he moved back
to his native Lebanon in 2005.
He told Aftonbladet his Swedish passport
had allowed him to travel freely in and out of Thailand repeatedly since
Thai authorities said Hussein had admitted to being part of a
terrorist cell planning attacks either in Thailand or an unnamed third country
and that the plans had been called off after his arrest. He remains in jail on
charges of possessing illegal substances and faces five years in a Thai prison
Thai authorities are looking for possible
In December, Israeli authorities warned Thailand that
Hezbollah was planning attacks in Bangkok tourist hubs popular with Americans
and Israelis. A possible target included Chabad House on Khao San Road, a
backpacker haven packed with young Israeli travelers.
Security around the
Chabad House has been tightened.
“Since the terror attack in Mumbai in
2008, we’ve had 24-hour security all year round,” said Rabbi Nehemiah Wilhelm,
originally from Jerusalem, who runs the four-story establishment.
Thai police have upgraded our security arrangements by posting more officers
around Chabad House and checking cars.”
Israeli travelers, Wilhelm added,
have taken news of the alleged terror plot in stride. “Israelis are never
entirely immune to the threat of terror attacks anywhere and there hasn’t been
any panic,” he said.
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