'Thai blast likely part of larger terror attack'

Bombings appear to be work accident which led to premature blast; unclear if man connected to Hezbollah arrests in Thailand last month.

February 14, 2012 12:48
2 minute read.
Hezbollah supporters in Beirut [file]

Hezbollah supporters in Beirut 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The bombings in Thailand on Tuesday appeared to be a work accident which led to the premature explosion of a bomb being made for a larger-scale attack, according to initial assessments in Israel.

According to media reports, an Iranian man tried evading capture after the house he was renting exploded Tuesday in the capital.

The man, identified in press reports as Saeib Morabi, threw a grenade at police which bounced off a tree, landed near him and exploded. He lost both legs in the explosion and was evacuated to a nearby hospital under tight police  supervision. Three other people were injured in the explosions.

Thai authorities were reportedly searching for two other suspects who were living in the house that exploded together with Morabi.

The explosions came a day after the wife if an Israeli diplomat was wounded in a car bomb in New Delhi and another bomb was discovered on a car in Georgia.

It was not immediately clear if the Iranian cell's target was the Israeli embassy in Bangkok, but the explosion came just weeks after Thai security forces arrested Hussein Atris, believed to be a senior Hezbollah operative who was plotting to attack Israeli and Jewish targets in Bangkok. At the time, Thailand said that it was hunting down other members of Atris's cell.

The investigation following Tuesday's explosions will look into the possibility that Morabi and Atris were working together.

A few days after his arrest at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, made possible due to intelligence supplied by Israel, Atris led Thai investigators to a warehouse filled with more than 8,000 pounds of urea fertilizer and several gallons of liquid ammonium nitrate, which are known bomb-making materials.

A Thai Defense Ministry source said last month that Israeli intelligence had contacted officials in Bangkok on December 22 with information that two or three suspects could be planning an attack in Thailand.

However, the individuals traveled to the south and left the country.

The Israelis alerted Thai officials again on January 8 of the danger of an attack around January 13-15 in areas where there are often large concentrations of Western tourists, such as the Khao San Road, a site popular among young backpackers.

Atris's arrest was made after the second Israeli warning, the source said, adding that Thai security officials were working closely with the United States and Israel.

Hezbollah is believed to be actively seeking revenge for the assassination of its military commander Imad Mughniyeh in 2008, and over the years there have been reports of a number of plots that were thwarted, including an attempt to bomb the Israeli Embassy in Azerbaijan.

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