Two in Thai custody over possible Hezbollah ties

Two in Thai custody over possible Hezbollah ties

Suspects of Lebanese origin; connection to terror organization unclear at present, Thai media reports

Evening view of Bangkok, the capital of Thailand (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Evening view of Bangkok, the capital of Thailand (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Two Lebanese men suspected of having ties with the terror group Hezbollah were detained in Thailand this week by authorities apparently skittish over possible plans to attack Israelis during the Passover holiday.

Lebanese-French citizen Daud Farhat and Lebanese-Philippine citizen Yousef Ayyad, both who have been on the Thai immigration watch list for possible Hezbollah ties, were taken from their homes in the Bangkok district of Sukhumvit for questioning on Tuesday, Thai daily The Nation reported.

“Their presence in Thai territory near the Jewish Passover, which this year fell on April 13, aroused the Thai side’s suspicions, so the Thai side decided to take them into custody for questioning after a fatal shooting in the US during Passover,” a source told the English-language Thai paper, referring to a shooting outside a Jewish Community Center and Jewish retirement home in Kansas on Sunday that left three people dead.

At present, no evidence has been provided of their alleged involvement in the organization. The pair remain detained under immigration laws, as their visas already expired.

“We have found no links with the group at this stage. Israel has mentioned this group but there is no conclusion yet that the men are members of the group,” Paradorn Pattanatabut, secretary-general of Thailand’s National Security Council, told the paper.

Israeli anti-terror website Stop910, which gathers information on terror cells in East Asia, reported Tuesday the presence and detention of the Lebanese in Thailand, but declared that three Lebanese citizens were exposed.

The site claimed the suspects were reportedly scouting out Israeli and Western sites for potential attacks.

Thailand is a popular travel destination for Israeli tourists, particularly young people who tend to take time off to travel the world after completing their service in the Israel Defense Forces.

This week saw thousands of Israelis leave for points abroad, including Thailand, for the Passover holiday which coincided with Thailand’s Songkran New Year’s festivities.

In February 2012, an Iranian ring apparently planning a terror attack on Israeli or Jewish targets was exposed following a botched grenade attack.

A month earlier, Swedish-Lebanese citizen Atris Hussein, allegedly a member of Hezbollah, was arrested with a large amount of fertilizer stored in a shop house in Samut Sakhon that he had rented.

Last September he was sent to prison for two years and eight months for possessing explosive precursors without a permit.

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