Thai security forces said to have foiled Iranian attempts to attack Israelis

Iran still believed to be planning attacks in country, a popular destination for Israelis, who are also still advised not to travel to Turkey

Illustrative: Police stand outside the Terminal 21 shopping mall where a mass shooting took place, on February 9, 2020, in the Thai northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima. (Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP)
Illustrative: Police stand outside the Terminal 21 shopping mall where a mass shooting took place, on February 9, 2020, in the Thai northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima. (Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP)

Thai security forces have thwarted several recent Iranian attempts to harm Western and Israeli targets in the southeast Asian country, according to a Monday report.

The news comes as Iran has reportedly been trying to retaliate for several high-profile assassinations and mysterious deaths in the Islamic Republic in recent months, including of a senior IRGC official and a top scientist.

According to Channel 12, security forces in Thailand were successful in preventing an Iranian agent from establishing a terror cell in the country and potentially carrying out attacks against Israelis.

The suspect, the report said, was eventually arrested last year in Indonesia while carrying a fake Bulgarian passport. Nonetheless, Thai security forces remain on high alert.

While that attempt failed, Iran is still believed to be planning attacks against Israelis in Thailand and elsewhere. Earlier Monday, local media reported that the Royal Thai Police had issued a “secret order” to police officers nationwide to be on the lookout for “Iranian spies.”

Thai reports cited a police source as saying that Thai security agencies were closely monitoring the movement of Iranian nationals who are believed to be operating as spies in the country. Thailand is a popular tourist destination for Israelis, in particular among fresh veterans of the Israel Defense Forces who often take off for several months.

Illustrative: A large sign reading ‘Travel agency and restaurant’ in Hebrew in Bangkok, Thailand, on April 6, 2009. (Nati Shohat/Flash90/File)

On Sunday, the incoming director-general of Tel Aviv University’s INSS think tank, former military intelligence chief Tamir Hayman, stressed the importance of examining recent events in Iran “in a strategic overview and not as separate tactical incidents.”

“While the New York Times has allegedly exposed Israel in the case of the assassination of [Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei], who according to reports was responsible for planning attacks against Israelis abroad, this time there’s some ambiguity surrounding the incidents (as it should be),” Hayman tweeted.

“And yet, we must examine whether or not Iran will try to attribute these latest incidents to Israel as well, which would increase their motivation to retaliate as part of what they call a ‘deterrence equation.’”

Hayman’s warning came as Israel was reportedly considering expanding already-instated travel warning to additional countries, amid concerns of an Iranian revenge attack.

Last week, Israel issued a rare direct warning to Israelis traveling or planning to travel to Turkey that they could be targeted by Iranian operatives seeking to avenge the recent assassination of the senior IRGC officer.

Managing Director of the Institute for National Security Studies, Tamir Hayman, speaks to Channel 12 news, May 28, 2022. (video screenshot)

Iran has a history of attacking or attempting to attack Israelis traveling abroad. The recently assassinated officer, Khodaei, had reportedly helped plan attacks against Israelis and Jews worldwide, including a series of 2012 attempted bombings of Israeli envoys.

In April, the Mossad was said to foil an Iranian attempt to assassinate an Israeli diplomat working at the consulate in Istanbul. In February, Turkish media reported that security forces in the country thwarted an Iranian plan to assassinate an Israeli businessman living in the country. Eight suspects were arrested in that incident, according to local reports.

It was also recently reported that Mossad helped foil 12 plots to carry out terror attacks on Israelis in Turkey over the past two years, most of them linked to the Islamic State jihadist group.

And last year, six people in Cyprus believed to be affiliated with the Iranian proxy Hezbollah were arrested in a plot to target Israelis there.

Khodaei’s assassination was the most high-profile killing inside Iran since the November 2020 killing of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

Israel, which has not officially commented on the incident, reportedly raised the security alert level at its embassies and consulates around the world, fearing a retaliatory Iranian attack.

An unnamed intelligence official told The New York Times that Israel told US officials it was behind Khodaei’s assassination. However, this was later denied by a senior Israeli lawmaker.

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