Thailand’s Chabad taking terror threat seriously

Jewish Association of Thailand's Rabbi Yosef Chaim Kantor says he's in close contact with authorities regarding safety measures.

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
January 16, 2012 06:17
1 minute read.
Koh Chang, Thailand

Koh Chang, Thailand 311. (photo credit: Elana Kirsh)

 
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Chabad rabbis in Thailand on Sunday said they were taking safety precautions after reports emerged that a terror cell was planning to attack Israeli and Jewish targets in the country.

Rabbi Yosef Chaim Kantor of the Jewish Association of Thailand said he was in close contact with the authorities and they had taken measures to ensure the safety of his family and guests.

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“The Thai authorities are taking this very seriously and so are we,” said Kantor. “We are in close contact with them.”

On Friday, Thai authorities announced they had apprehended a Lebanese citizen on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack.

Another man believed to have been his accomplice is still at large.

Emissaries of the hassidic community’s global Jewish outreach network have been targeted by terrorists in the past. In 2008, Islamist gunmen attacked the Chabad House in Mumbai murdering Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, his wife, Rivka, and four guests. The tragedy has led to increased security at Chabad Houses around the world, including Thailand.

But in Phuket, an island located 700 kilometers southwest of Bangkok whose name is synonymous with golden beaches and turquoise shores, security fears in the distant capital seemed a world away. An Israeli who answered the phone at the local Chabad House said Jewish vacationers did not seem particularly worried about the terrorist threat.

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“We received the notification over Shabbat but other than that nothing here is particularly unusual,” said Shlomi, who refused to give his surname. “I think people are making too much of it back in Israel.”

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