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FM plays down terrorist link to Bangkok blasts

Bangkok - Thai officials on Wednesday said it was too early to link three blasts in Bangkok to international terrorist groups.

"At the moment, there is no evidence linking this incident to terrorism," Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said.

On Tuesday, an explosion in a rented house in Bangkok prompted the four foreign residents to flee, police said.

One man, after failing to hail a cab, threw a grenade at a taxi, injuring the driver and three pedestrians. He later threw another at a police car, but it bounced back and blew up in front of him, severing both legs.

The suspect was initially identified as Iranian national Saeib Morabi. Police arrested another Iranian, Mohammad Hazai, 42, at Suvarnabhumi International Airport late Tuesday as he was about to board a plane to Kuala Lumpur.

He had been identified by surveillance cameras as one three Iranians staying at the house where the bomb was detonated, police said.

The two other suspects, including one woman, were still at large. Police said they found C-4 plastic explosives in the house that they rented in Bangkok.

"We are checking with the Iranian embassy whether the two men under custody are Iranians," Surapong said. "They could be holding fake documents," he noted. Bangkok is a regional hub for purchasing fake identification documents.

Iran on Wednesday denied any involvement and condemned the attacks by accusing Israel.

"The Zionist regime is trying to tarnish the historic ties between Iran and Thailand by such acts," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told state television network IRIB.

The incident prompted 10 embassies to issue travel warnings to their citizens visiting Bangkok.

Last month, the US and 10 other embassies issued travel warnings after being informed of planned terrorist attacks on US and Israeli citizens in the Thai capital.

On January 16, police found 400 boxes of bomb-making materials in a shophouse believed to be linked to that plot.

Police said they were alerted to the cache by Attis Hussein, a Swedish-Lebanese man arrested days after the US embassy travel alert on suspicion of being a member of the Hezbollah militant group.

Maintaining security and the country’s appeal as a tourist destination is a key task for authorities in Thailand, which drew 19 million visitors last year.

Although Iranians, unlike many Middle Eastern nationals, cannot get a visa on arrival, "there has been a significant increase in Iranian tourists visiting Thailand last year," said a Thai diplomat who asked to remain anonymous.

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/FM-plays-down-terrorist-link-to-Bangkok-blasts-30175939.html

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Iranian badly injured in bombing stripped of residence status

An Iranian man arrested in connection with Tuesday's blasts in Bangkok has been stripped of Thai residence status, Immigration Police chief Pol Lt-General Wibool Bangthamai said yesterday.

Saeib Morabi, who lost his legs in the incident, is being treated at Police General Hospital.

Police investigators visited him yesterday and, when evidence is available, will likely charge him with attempted murder, attempted murder of policemen on duty, possessing explosives and firearms without permission, and causing damage through explosions, a police source said.

A second suspect in police custody, Mohammad Hazai, 42, arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport late on Tuesday, has not been charged with any offence.

Israel's ambassador to Thailand, Yitzhak Shoham, said Morabi was connected to a terror network behind recent bombing incidents in India and Georgia, relying partly on explosives of the kind found in the rented house in Bangkok.

Israeli authorities, through a Bangkok-based mission, are seeking details of the bomb-assembly system used with the magnetic explosives found in the home rented by the three suspects, said Bangkok police chief Pol Lt-General Winai Thongsong.

Three US Embassy officials were present at the rented house in Soi Pridi Banomyong 36 off Sukhumvit 71 Road, and had 30-minute talks with Thai police personnel.

According to police sources, two improvised bombs found at the house were in the form of portable radios, stuffed with C-4 explosives. Hand grenades with the safety lever removed were inserted in the radio units to be used as the detonator.

Small metal balls were also put in the units intended as shrapnel. There were six flat round metal plates with a diameter of 2 centimetres attached beneath the radio bomb units, each weighing about 2 kilograms.

Contrary to media reports that Morabi used two hand grenades while on the run, police sources said he used two radio bomb units, out of a stock of five. One went off in the first accidental explosion in the rented house, two were used by him and two others were found in the house.

The radio bombs went off five seconds after their grenades were activated. They had a blast radius of about 40 metres and kill radius of about 3-5 metres, the sources added.

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Iranian-badly-injured-in-bombing-stripped-of-resid-30175993.html

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Bomb plot deepens

Iran, Israel play blame game over Bangkok blasts; Surapong: No link yet to terrorism; Travel advisories by US, UK, NZ, Canada, the Netherlands, Aust, Brazil, Japan, Norway, Ireland

Iran and Israel dropped diplomatic bombshells on each other yesterday, accusing one another of being behind Tuesday's bomb blasts in Bangkok.

Israel was quick to implicate Iran in the bomb incidents. "The attempted attack in Bangkok proves once again that Iran and its proxies are continuing to act in the ways of terror and the latest attacks are an example of that," Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said.

But Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast denied his country was involved in any of the cases and said Tehran condemned any "terrorist action". He told the official IRNA news agency: "The aim of the Zionist regime's claims is to overshadow the assassination of Iranian scientists."

The Iranian spokesman also accused Israel of "trying to harm the friendly and historic relations between Iran and Thailand".

Also yesterday, the United States - a close ally of Israel - condemned the blasts in Thailand's capital and suggested they may be linked to Iran.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the US was awaiting the results of investigations. She offered condolences to those injured.

'Iranian-sponsored links'

Nuland did not blame Irandirectly. But she noted Monday's incidents in India and Georgia,

and recent "Iranian-sponsored" and "Hezbollah-linked" plots to attack Israeli and Western interests in Azerbaijan and Thailand. She called it "reprehensible" for states to use terrorism as a foreign policy tool.

Thai authorities are holding two Iranians in connection with the three explosions in Bangkok on Tuesday.

One of the men, named as 28-year-old Saeid Morati according to a passport found in his possession, lost both his legs when he tried to hurl an explosive device at police while fleeing an earlier blast at a house in the Sukhumvit area. The other Iranian was detained as he tried to board a flight out of Thailand. A third suspect who fled to Malaysia was arrested at Thailand's request.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul yesterday said Thai authorities have not described Tuesday's incident as an act of terrorism. But he urged terrorist groups not to include Thailand in their plots.

"At the moment, there is no evidence linking this incident to terrorism. So far the arrested [men] are accused of illegal use of explosives and of attempting to kill others and officials on duty," Surapong said. "Personally, I believe the incidents in Georgia, India, and Thailand have no connection."

He added, however, that: "I would like to ask people who think of plots harmful to Thailand to stop them. And I ask terrorists not to use Thailand as their base."

The foreign minister called his press conference yesterday after 10 foreign countries issued travel ad-visories for their citizens following the blasts. They are the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Norway, and Ireland.

Surapong meets us ambassador

Surapong said the US ambassador to Thailand, Kristie Kenney, had called him on Tuesday evening to ask for details about the blasts. The US Embassy later issued a warning advising American citizens to be careful when travelling in Thailand.

"I thank Ambassador Kenney for calling first. That allowed me an opportunity to explain the situation and the actions by the Thai authorities aimed at restoring foreigners' confidence," he said.

The foreign minister had earlier expressed his disappointment over a warning last month by the US Embassy about possible terrorist attacks in Bangkok.

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Bomb-plot-deepens-30175995.html

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Third Iranian suspect arrested and detained in Malaysia

Malaysia on Wednesday detained an Iranian man suspected of involving in the series of bomb attacks in Bangkok's Klongtan district on Tuesday, a senior Thai security official said.

The arrest of Masoud Sedaghatzadeh was made about 3pm in Kuala Lumpur following the Thai side giving information and identity of the suspect.

The suspect was scheduled to board a flight from the Malaysian capital to Tehran, capital of Iran today. He initially booked a flight to leave for Tehran on February 25.

The three bomb attacks hit Klongtan, causing panic in the capital and leaving five bystanders injured.

At first the Thai side could not identify the suspect, allowing him to slip through Thai immigration on Tuesday and leave for Malaysia

Earlier Deputy police chief Pol Gen Pansiri Prapawat said Sedaghatzadeh, left Bangkok for Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday afternoon.

He was one of the four Iranian police linked to the explosions. The fourth Iranian still unaccounted for was a female Iranian who rented the house for the suspects.

The two others Iranians allegedly involved in the blasts are in police custody. One of them, Saeid Moradi, was badly injured after an explosive he intended to throw at police accidentally fell to the ground, while Mohammad Hazaei was later arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport as he reportedly tried to escape to Malaysia.

The three rented a house in Soi Pridi Panomyong in the district about a month ago.

A police search of the house uncovered a number of electronic devices that could be used to make explosives.

It is currently believed that the three tried to flee from the rented house after the first bomb exploded inside. Sedaghatzadeh and Hazaei managed to flee but Moradi could not after a taxi refused to pick him up. He threw an explosive at the taxi and later at police.

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Third-Iranian-suspect-arrested-and-detained-in-Mal-30175952.html

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Govt urged to allay terrorism fears

Concerned tourism businesses yesterday called on the government to make it clear to the international community that the bomb blasts in Bangkok on Tuesday had nothing to do with terrorism.

"Reports from foreign news agencies have linked the bombing with terrorism in India and Georgia … [similar to] the US travel warning issued in January," said Kongkrit Hiranyakit, president of the Tourism Council of Thailand.

The reports said terrorists were targeting tourist spots and travellers. This will result in more countries issuing travel warnings, he said.

Kongkrit said such warnings would have a psychological effect on tourists, who would delay their trips to Thailand, as they did after similar advisories last month. Further violence or discovery of bomb-making ingredients would affect tourists' decision on whether to come to Thailand even more.

He said that when the United States and the United Kingdom issued warnings, other countries would follow. The government should investigate Tuesday's event and clarify the situation as soon as possible to reduce the number of countries issuing such advisories for travellers.

Kongkrit said 60-70 per cent of tourists coming to Thailand decided for themselves the destinations of their trips and might be influenced to avoid Bangkok. Although the government has said the bombings were not the work of terrorists, foreign news agencies were still linking them to terrorism. The government should present evidence to refute this belief, he said.

Sisdivachr Chewarattanaporn, president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, said it had been receiving questions from trading partners and tourists concerned over the bomb blasts. However, they have not cancelled their trips to Thailand yet, but are waiting for the government's investigation.

"We have been informed that Thailand is not placed on the risk country from tourists but Thai travel agents instead," Sisdivachr said.

He said that if the government did not come out with clear information and security protection measures, it would affect Thailand's tourism industry in the long run.

The private sector cannot assess the situation but has to monitor the progress closely day by day.

"The government should control the situation as fast as it can and should be careful when releasing details [so as not] to create panic that leads embassies here to issue warnings," Sisdivachr said.

He added that in some sensitive countries such as China, such warnings would discourage tourists from travelling here. Sisdivachr pointed that the government should more careful for foreign tourist entering into Thailand.

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/business/Govt-urged-to-allay-terrorism-fears-30175975.html

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Bangkok Bomb Suspects Flew to Phuket from Kuala Lumpur, says Phuket Immigration Officer

PHUKET: Two Iranians suspected of being involved in a bombing plot in Bangkok passed through Phuket on a flight from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia last week, an Immigration officer at Phuket International Airport said today.

Flight details provided by Captain Danai Chumapai contradict reports that wounded bomber Seadi Morati, 28, arrived in Thailand on a flight from South Korea via Phuket.

A third suspect is believed to have escaped to Malaysia after yesterday's explosions in Bangkok exposed a suspected bomb plot, possibly aimed at Israeli diplomats.

Morati, who lost both legs as a result of the blasts in Bangkok yesterday, arrived on Phuket last Wednesday on AirAsia Flight AK 826 and cleared Immigration at 1.37pm, according to Captain Danai.

Travelling with him was a second Iranian, Mohammad Khazaei, 32. The two men arrived as normal passengers on the scheduled flight and nothing special was noted about them, the captain said.

The two men were recorded by Phuket Immigration as boarding Bangkok Airways Flight PG 274 at 4pm to Bangkok on the same day.

The short period between the mens' arrival on the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Phuket and their departure on the flight from Phuket to Bangkok probably means they stayed at Phuket International Airport between trips.

Captain Danai said that the data recorded at Phuket International shows that Mohammad Khazaei had previously flown to Thailand, entering via Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport, in December.

Details of the pair's flight from Malaysia via Phuket are likely to intensify inquiries in the Malaysian capital.

Officials are concerned to deflect damage to the tourism industry on Phuket and in Thailand as about 10 nations, including Britain and the US, reacted to the Bangkok blasts by issuing travel alerts.

http://phuketwan.com/tourism/bangkok-bomb-suspects-flew-phuket-kuala-lumpur-says-phuket-immigration-officer-15502/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PhuketWan-TopStories+%28Phuket+Wan+-+Top+Stories%29

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Hotel staff shocked by 'polite' bomber

Shortly afterwards, he called a friend who arrived at the hotel with a large piece of luggage.

The six-storey building is in a small alley behind another hotel next to Pattaya 2 Road, a bustling area of night venues.

Because it is relatively small and old, guests are not subject to strict checks.

"We usually have no idea what the guests bring in," one hotel employee said.

Since both men were well presented and polite, hotel employees did not pay them much attention.

"Mr Moradi was good-looking and dressed neatly, as if he was a young entrepreneur," said the worker. "He was also polite and I can't believe that he would be a bomber."

The employee said Mr Moradi and his friend mostly stayed in their room. They didn't come down for breakfast or lunch and only in the evening or at night would they venture out. On Feb 11, Mr Moradi booked his room for one more night. He and his companion checked out on Monday at 11.58am and Mr Moradi left a 500 baht tip. Police yesterday checked Mr Moradi's room and reviewed CCTV footage.

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/279855/hotel-staff-shocked-by-polite-bomber

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Americans alerted to maintain heightened awareness

The US Embassy in Thailand issued a statement, alerting its citizens to maintain a heightened awareness when in public following a series of explosions in Bangkok on Tuesday.

"Be alert for unattended packages/bags in public and report any suspicious behavior to the nearest law enforcement personnel," according to statement in its website.

The Americans are urged to to regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website, where current Worldwide Cautions, Travel Alerts, Travel Warnings and health-information resources can be found.

We encourage you notify us of your presence in Thailand by enrolling in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Americans-alerted-to-maintain-heightened-awareness-30175908.html

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Sukumpol rules out three explosions as terror attacks

Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat on Wednesday tried to allay anxiety over Tuesday's triple explosions in Bangkok, saying the blasts should not be construed as terror attacks.

"In my personal view, the men were trying to assemble bombs which led to the explosions," he said.

Sukumpol said police had already taken custody of two Iranian bomber suspects. Another suspect remains at large after fleeing a rented house on Soi Pridi Banomyong 31 off Sukhumvit 71.

The National Security Council has convened a meeting on the explosions before holding a press conference later today.

US and Israeli authorities have voiced suspicion about the involvement of Iran and Hezbollah in targeting Israeli nationals.

National Security Council secretary general Wichean Potephosree said on Wednesday that the explosive devices found at the rented house off Sukhumvit 71 were meant for individual targets.

Based on preliminary checks by police, the Iranian bomber suspects, one who is believed to have fled to Malaysia, and two in police custody, wanted to target individuals although the potential targets or organisations remain unclear, Wichean said.

"The explosives devices were not for sabotage but further checks will be needed before drawing conclusions about a terror attack," he said.

Police had no evidence to link Tuesday's three explosions to Lebanese Artris Hussein, held in custody since last month on suspicion of possessing explosives.

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Sukumpol-rules-out-three-explosions-as-terror-atta-30175912.html

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It's great news.

Abbub, Android, Johninbkk, Hill Farang, Ricefield Radio and Med124 have all run away from Bangkok Post fora.

They'll be scratching their heads trying to think of a way to blame this on the Dems or spin it so that Peua Thai look good.

Or they're waiting for a new story to come up so they can draw attention away from this debacle.

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This is not a time for the Thai government to pressure foreign embassies to lift the warnings (of which China didn't issue any warning), anytime soon, or be saying this has only short term implications.

There is one element of this no one is addressing in the news, with a possible censorship dealing with it. These suspects all flew into Thailand, and did not bring the C-4, or hand grenades with them through airport security from the countries they came from on this trip.

You can tell you are around C-4 from quite a distance just by the oderous smell it gives off, and hand grenades would have set off every metal detector, or been identified through the flooriscopes used in the scanning.

This points directly to there being a network operating in Thailand that supplied them with the extremely hard to aquire C-4 bomb plastique, and hand grenades. This isn't ammonium nitrate that can be aquired from any farming operation, this is military only explosives.

They also revoked his residency, implying one of the suspects had been granted permanent residency, being here continuously for a minimum of three years, with only short leaves out of the country allowed, and not classed as a tourist. He also had to be supporting himself some way the whole time. Why hasn't this been reported on yet?

This implies long term planning, and not simply a few tourists coming into Thailand for this one job, as the last Lebanese suspect also proved.

This all shows there is a very dangerous terrorist network operating in Thailand, and the USA had good reason for not lifting the original travel warning when the Thai government refused to see anything going on that their so called intellegence network had been tracking for over a year. Yeah right...Money means more here than a few lives, as has been shown countless times.

The Thai government doesn't even issue a warning when a bomb does explode, then there being a clear network in operation.

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Really? Could you reference some evidence for this please?

A simple google search for you turned up wikipedia's discription,

'C4 is made up of explosives, plastic binder, plasticizer and usually marker and odorizing taggant chemicals such as 2,3-dimethyl-2,3-dinitrobutane (DMDNB) to help detect the explosive and identify its source', but I am just going off my training in the military in how to detect, and use it. It's funny how much they taught in jungle survival during the Vietnam war era. Even though I was only an electronics intellegence specialist, coming into the war zone I still had to be trained in jungle warfare, and survival before I got there, and why to this day I will not eat bugs ever again.

Edited by koolbreez

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A simple google search for you turned up wikipedia's discription,

'C4 is made up of explosives, plastic binder, plasticizer and usually marker and odorizing taggant chemicals such as 2,3-dimethyl-2,3-dinitrobutane (DMDNB) to help detect the explosive and identify its source', but I am just going off my training in the military in how to detect, and use it. It's funny how much they taught in jungle survival during the Vietnam war era. Even though I was only an electronics intellegence specialist, coming into the war zone I still had to be trained in jungle warfare, and survival before I got there, and why to this day I will not eat bugs ever again.

I only ask as wiki does not reference a source for their claim. And other sites refute the alleged 'almond smell'. I know they add odorising chemicals to help identify the source of the C4 but nowhere says it is odiferous enough to be identified from distance. If this were the case, it would not be in as widespread use by terrorists and guerillas.

Certainly the C4 used in mines in Vietnam produced poisonous fumes when burned (a fact wiki actually does reference) but other than your post I see nothing anywhere on the net that discusses or mentions the identification from distance you claim.

Sniff too much of that agent orange again? ; )

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I only ask as wiki does not reference a source for their claim. And other sites refute the alleged 'almond smell'. I know they add odorising chemicals to help identify the source of the C4 but nowhere says it is odiferous enough to be identified from distance. If this were the case, it would not be in as widespread use by terrorists and guerillas.

Certainly the C4 used in mines in Vietnam produced poisonous fumes when burned (a fact wiki actually does reference) but other than your post I see nothing anywhere on the net that discusses or mentions the identification from distance you claim.

Sniff too much of that agent orange again? ; )

Not sure the distance you can smell C4 makes much of a difference. KB is right in saying that this is not stuff they brought with them so the real issue is where did they get it in Thailand? JJ's? MBK? A general in the Thai army? A cop? A terrorist network that has been establishing itself for years? These are the questions that need to be answered.

And like KB mentioned, if they pulled his residency permit, why aren't they talking about what he's been doing in Thailand while here on a resident visa? What kind of job did he have? How was he able to get permanent residence in Thailand?

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Not sure the distance you can smell C4 makes much of a difference. KB is right in saying that this is not stuff they brought with them so the real issue is where did they get it in Thailand? JJ's? MBK? A general in the Thai army? A cop? A terrorist network that has been establishing itself for years? These are the questions that need to be answered.

And like KB mentioned, if they pulled his residency permit, why aren't they talking about what he's been doing in Thailand while here on a resident visa? What kind of job did he have? How was he able to get permanent residence in Thailand?

Agree totally and a good point he made was re the chemicals added. If they have some of the C4 these guys had then they can identify exactly where it came from. (I'm guessing Iran lol) But how did they get it here? Bought in the region? Or smuggled to order?

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Not the Nation provides some lighter views on the subject.

Panic As Nation’s 1,652nd Bombing Injures Non-Southerners

BANGKOK – The citizens of the nation’s capital woke up this morning to a completely changed world as the 1,652nd bomb attack of the last decade caused injury to someone who wasn’t a resident of the deep southern provinces.

In what the government and media are calling a “nightmarish first,” a terrorist plot by alleged Iranians involving improvised explosive devices went horribly wrong on Tuesday afternoon, resulting in a damaged non-southern taxi, four wounded non-southerners including the alleged bomber, and chaos on a non-southern city street.

As details emerge about a possible failed plot to bomb foreign targets in Bangkok, city residents demanded that the Yingluck government do more to protect the non-deep-south part of the nation from terrorist attacks.

“The presence of bombs in Thai cities that are not in the deep south is totally unacceptable,” said opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva. “While we will support the government’s security efforts, we will also carefully audit their policies of protecting the non-southern parts of the kingdom.”

However, Defense Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat was quick to insist that the security of non-deep-south Thailand was still well-maintained and that the isolated non-deep south incident did not constitute a genuine terrorist act.

“Non-south Thailand remains a peaceful and welcoming destination for travelers,” he said.

Additionally, Sukumpol praised the non-southern Thai police for their role in foiling the alleged bombing plot, and for placing themselves in danger to protect non-southern public safety.

“The police have control and will soon be providing updates on their investigation,” he said. “Thais not living in the south will soon know who was behind these bombs and what their motives are.”

A number of foreign embassies issued warnings to their citizens in Thailand, recommending heightened awareness. However, none went so far as issuing travel bans on non-southern areas of the country.

“We have no reason at this time to downgrade our assessment of the security of non-south Thailand,” read the U.S. Embassy statement in part.

However, many Bangkok residents expressed concern that the government was not prepared to deal with the new threats of terrorism in the northernmost 73 provinces.

“Thailand aside from the deep south has always taken pride in being a peaceful place,” said Nonthanoon Kittirakun, the bookings manager at a large hotel in downtown Bangkok. “To have bombs going off and hurting people who aren’t deep southerners goes against our values.”

A spokesperson for the Army agreed, promising that Thailand’s military would respond to the new threats to non-southern Thailand.

“It is our duty to protect all Thais who don’t live in Pattani, Yala, and Songkla provinces,” he said, “and we intend to do exactly that.”

http://notthenation.com/2012/02/panic-as-nations-1652nd-bombing-injures-non-southerners/

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Phuket Reassured That Bangkok Blasts Have Not Damaged Tourism

By Phuketwan Reporter

Thursday, February 16, 2012

PHUKET: Although 14 countries have issued travel advisories after Tuesday's blasts in Bangkok, Phuket resort managers and industry officials are confident that tourism will not be affected. 

The 14 countries are Canada, the US, Ireland, Britain, Austria, the Netherlands, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, New Zealand, Italy, Norway, Israel and Taiwan, according to Thailand's Foreign Ministry.

Two Iranians suspected of possible involvement in bombing plots in Bangkok passed through Phuket International Airport while travelling from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to Bangkok, Phuketwan revealed exclusively yesterday. 

One of them, Seadi Morati, 28, lost both legs after the blasts rocked a Bangkok street.

Latest reports say Morati and other Iranians detained in Bangkok and Malaysia were intending to target two Israeli diplomats, police say.

Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul told MCOT today: "Iran is ready to cooperate with Thailand to investigate the detainees' nationality so that it will become clear which group is responsible for the bomb incidents."

A third suspect, arrested by Malaysian authorities, is likely to be extradited to Thailand. 

Phuket resorts confirmed there had been no cancellations as a result of the bomb blasts. 

TAT Deputy Governor Sansern Ngaorangsri said the 22 TAT offices around the globe were being asked to monitor media coverage and to clarify the incidents with tour agencies if necessary.

http://phuketwan.com/tourism/phuket-reassured-bangkok-blasts-damaged-tourism-15510/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PhuketWan-TopStories+%28Phuket+Wan+-+Top+Stories%29

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30176034-01_big.jpg

The Iranian woman suspected of involvement in the series of bomb explosions in Bangkok on Tuesday is now in Iran and Thailand has no extradition treaty with the country, Immigration Police Commissioner Pol Lt Gen Wiboon Bangtamai said today.

Leila Rohani is the fourth Iranian wanted for the blast. She is suspected of arranging to rent the Sukhumvit Soi 71 home where the three other Iranian suspects stayed and where the first explosive device exploded, apparently by accident.

The Criminal Court on Thursday issued arrest warrants for the group.

Wiboon said Rohani is now in Tehran, Iran's capital. "We could not ask Iran to extradite her to Thailand as we have no extradition treaty with the country," he said.

However, he said Rohani's absence would not affect the case, as she had only rented the house. Thai police have enough evidence such as footage from security cameras and bomb material found in the house, he added.

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Female-suspect-in-bombing-case-already-back-in-Ira-30176034.html

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Police hunt 5th bomb suspect

Police will seek an arrest warrant for a fifth suspect in Tuesday's bomb explosions in Bangkok based on information from eyewitnesses and security camera footage, deputy police chief Pansiri Prapawat said on Thursday.

Pol Gen Pansiri said the fifth suspect was also a man of middle-eastern appearance. The other four suspects have been identified as Iranians, one of them a woman.

Police were checking if he was still in the country.

Pol Gen Pansiri said police had learned that Rohani Leila, the female suspect who had returned to Tehran, had rented a second house in Bangkok.

A court warrant was being sought to search the house to see if it had been used as a place to assemble bombs.

He reaffirmed that no emblems or other material symbolic of international terrorism were found in the search of the house in Soi Pridi Banomyong 31, off Sukhumvit soi 71, where the first of the three bombs went off on Tuesday.

In Thailand, Suvarnabhumi airport director Somchai Sawasdipol said authorities have tightened security after a failed bomb plot in central Bangkok.

"We are stepping up overall surveillance and will focus on passengers behaving suspiciously as well as abandoned luggage or packages," said Mr Somchai.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) secretary-general Supachai Panitchpakdi said the government should to impose more stringent immigration controls to prevent bad guys entering Thailand.

"Of course tourist spots must be guaranteed safety and security, but the authorities should also introduce more stringent screening measures at immigration. We should not be too worried that this could have an adverse impact to tourism," said Mr Supachai, speaking on the sideline of an economic conference in Bangkok.

He said the three explosions reflected increasing global tensions, but Thailand had to stand firm in saying that this is not a problem stemming from domestic affairs.

"Our security is sufficient and we have to show the world that we are ready with preventative measures now and when needed," the Thai economist said.

The United States had imposed strict immigration measures after the Sept 11 attacks and other countries also saw the necessity to take similar steps.

"Thailand can do a similar thing, a little inconvenience for visitors and tourists to ensure security for all should not be a worry,"

Two other Iranians have already been charged in Thailand in connection with Tuesday's bomb incident, the third to shake world capitals in less than 24 hours.

Thai police say Israeli diplomats were the intended targets of the botched plot, prompting Israeli accusations that Iran was behind a terror campaign, which Tehran has denied.

One of the suspects had his legs blown off as he tried to hurl an explosive device at Thai police while fleeing after an apparently unintended explosion at a Bangkok house, officials said.

He was said to be in stable condition in a Bangkok hospital.

The other Iranian suspect was detained trying to board a flight out of Thailand on Tuesday evening.

Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said the Iranian bomb suspect arrested in Malaysia will be extradited to Thailand once formalities are completed.

Masoud Sedaghat Zadeh, 31, was apprehended on Wednesday by Malaysian authorities in Kuala Lumpur.

Mr Surapong said police were already working with Malaysian authorities for his extradition.

Malaysian Police chief Ismail Omar said the Iranian was arrested under provisions of the Immigration Act of Malaysia following information provided by Thai authorities.

Malaysia's Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Mr Zadeh had been attempting to fly to Iran.

Mr Zadeh's arrest at Kuala Lumpur international airport showed Malaysia was "very serious and committed'' to addressing the threat of terrorism, said the minister

"The authorities of this country will never allow Malaysia to become a location, base, or transit point for terrorists or individuals who are wanted by any other country,'' he said.

Suvarnabhumi airport director Somchai Sawasdipol said authorities have tightened security.

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/280167/police-looking-for-5th-bomb-suspect

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And like KB mentioned, if they pulled his residency permit, why aren't they talking about what he's been doing in Thailand while here on a resident visa? What kind of job did he have? How was he able to get permanent residence in Thailand?

sleeper agents r not something new .... some guys will go years even decades without being used ... and some might never ever be used !!!

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Probes into Iranians show no links to terrorist organisations

The investigation into the series of bomb blasts in Bangkok on Valentine's day has so far uncovered no link between the four Iranian suspects and any terrorist organisations, a senior Thai security official said Friday.

Despite this, Thai security agencies will continue with their investigations to find out if the four have connections with a terrorist organisation, he said.

One of the four Iranians suspected of involvement in the triple blasts in Klong Tan district is now in Chulalongkorn Hospital after being maimed by his own explosive. Two others are in Thai and Malaysian police custody respectively, while the fourth, a female, has fled back to Iran.

The nature of their presence in Bangkok, their possession of explosives and their country's position on Israel has prompted people to assume that they are members of a terrorism organisation visiting Thailand to launch attacks.

However, the official said the initial investigation into their records and background found no connection with any terrorism organisation.

The official doubted speculation that the suspects were possibly targetting or wanted to kill Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak who was scheduled to visit Thailand on Thursday.

The minister cancelled the trip after the blasts. The official said examination of the suspects' movements showed that they had not yet booked tickets back to Tehran.

"If they planned to kill the Israeli minister on Thursday, they should have prepared their escape means and route," he said.

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Probes-into-Iranians-show-no-links-to-terrorist-or-30176135.html

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Thailand: Iranians' targets were Israeli diplomats

By THANYARAT DOKSONE and JOCELYN GECKER

Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) -- Three Iranians detained after accidentally setting off explosives in Bangkok were planning to attack Israeli diplomats, Thailand's top policeman said Thursday in the first confirmation by local officials that the group was plotting attacks in Thailand.

Israel has strongly accused Iran of being behind the botched plot, a bombing in India and an attempted bombing in the former Soviet republic of Georgia this week, which Iran has denied.

Citing the similarity of bombs used in New Delhi and Tbilisi, national police chief Gen. Prewpan Dhamapong said that Thai authorities now "know for certain that (the target) was Israeli diplomats."

"This issue was about individuals and the targets were specific," he said. "This was something personal."

Israel has accused Iran of waging a covert campaign of state terror and has threatened military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities. Iran has blamed the Jewish state for the recent killings of Iranian atomic scientists and has denied responsibility for all three bomb plots. The explosion Monday in New Delhi tore through an Israeli diplomatic vehicle, wounding the driver and a diplomat's wife, and an attempt was foiled the same day in Georgia.

Speaking in an interview with Israel Radio during a trip to Japan, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said: "It's clearer to more and more of the world that Iran, which is a veteran sponsor of terror, is trying to raise the bar even more, trying to harm diplomats around the world."

Israel's U.N. ambassador said Thursday the Security Council should condemn the attacks quickly.

"Israel expects it to issue a clear condemnation today, without any further delay or equivocation," Ambassador Ron Prosor said in a letter distributed by the Israeli mission.

"This campaign bears the unmistakable fingerprints of the Iranian regime and the highest echelons of the Hezbollah leadership," his letter said. "Their actions constitute a clear threat to the security and stability of Lebanon, to the Middle East, and to the many countries that have been targeted."

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said the Iranian-backed group had nothing to do with the Thailand plot, bombing in India or the attempted bombing in Georgia.

Sheik Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech Thursday to mark the 2008 death of Imad Mughniyeh, a top Hezbollah military commander.

There had been speculation that the attacks could be revenge for the death of Mughniyeh, who was killed by a bomb that ripped through his car in Damascus. Hezbollah and its primary patron, Iran, have blamed Israel for Mughniyeh's killing.

Israel has denied involvement.

"They will know when we will avenge martyr Mughniyeh. It will not be against soldiers or Israeli diplomats or civilians. This is insulting for Hezbollah," Nasrallah said, hinting that his group plans to kill senior officials.

Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said security had been stepped up for its diplomatic staff abroad. "Security is of the essence at times like this," Palmor said.

The plot in Bangkok was discovered when explosives in the men's rented house blew up by mistake Tuesday. One suspect, Mohammad Kharzei, was paraded before journalists Thursday, his apparently handcuffed hands covered by a dark sheet.

Prewpan said Kharzei had "partially confessed" and acknowledged knowing another suspect, Saeid Moradi, whose leg was sheared off by an explosion on a busy Bankgok street.

Surveillance video showed the three men leaving their destroyed house just after the first blast. Moradi was the last to exit, and as he walked out with a heavy backpack over his shoulder, a small crowd that had begun to gather backed away, clearly terrified.

Kharzei, grim-faced, did not speak as he stood before reporters, but Prewpan described him as "stressed out" and another official said he was having trouble eating.

The third Iranian, Masoud Sedaghatzadeh, was detained in Malaysia and was being investigated for terrorism-related activities linked to the Bangkok blasts. Federal police there could not say whether Sedaghatzadeh would be extradited to Thailand.

A Bangkok court has approved arrest warrants for all three suspects, as well as an Iranian woman named Leila Rohani who rented the destroyed house. However, Rohani has left Thailand and is now in Tehran, according to the top immigration police official, Lt. Gen. Wiboon Bangthamai.

All four now face criminal charges including possession of explosives, attempted murder, attempted murder of a policeman and causing explosions that damaged property. Prewpan said he believed there already was enough evidence to prosecute them.

The Israeli ambassador to Thailand, Itzhak Shoham, declined to comment on reports his staff had been specifically targeted. He said the Israeli Embassy was open and functioning as normal.

Shoham told The Associated Press earlier this week, however, that the similarity of the bombs found in Bangkok and New Delhi had led Israel to believe the plots were linked.

Prewpan also said that two homemade "sticky" bombs found at the blast site Tuesday matched the devices planted on Israeli diplomatic cars in India and Georgia a day earlier.

Thailand's acknowledgment that terror attacks were being planned on its soil stood in contrast to its denials last month, when police arrested a Lebanese-Swedish man with alleged links to Hezbollah. At the time, authorities insisted Thailand was only being used as a staging ground for attacks, but was not the target. The man led police to a warehouse where urea fertilizer and other materials that could be used to make bombs were being stored.

After that incident, Israel and the United States warned their citizens to be alert. The U.S. Embassy said foreign terrorists may have been looking to attack tourist areas in Bangkok and Thai media reported the attacks were aimed at Israeli targets, including the Israeli Embassy.

Thai officials say it is not clear if the two incidents are connected.

http://www.theeagle.com/world/Thailand--Iranians--targets-were-Israeli-diplomats--6975712

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Iran envoy claims 'Zionist regime' behind blasts

The claim that suspects involved in the Valentine's Day bomb blasts in Bangkok are linked to Iran is baseless, Iranian Ambassador Majid Bizmark said.

In an interview with The Nation, Bizmark categorically denied that Iran had anything to do with the explosions in Sukhumvit Soi 71, which have shaken the capital's security and prompted 14 countries to issue travel warnings. Instead, he said, the prime suspect is the Zionist regime, referring to Israel.

"If we follow the issue closely and wisely, we'll find out who is behind the scenario … There are some things I cannot say, but as I mentioned, in this scenario, the first suspect is Zionists," he added.

The ambassador said the case remained ambiguous about the nationality of the suspects and that Iran has come out to strongly condemn this incident.

"We don't know who they are … they could be anybody," he said.

So far, two men identified as Iranians are in detention in Thailand. They have allegedly confessed that they were plotting to attack Israeli diplomats in much the same way as the strikes in India and Georgia were conducted. Malaysian police managed to arrest another suspect just as he was about to flee the country.

Yesterday, Bangkok police commissioner LtGeneral Winai Thongsong also announced that authorities were looking for two more suspects in the case, including a man who was captured on CCTV footage early on Tuesday leaving the house where the first explosion took place

While Israel blames Iran as having been behind the Bangkok blasts, Iran has also come out to blame Israel.

Bizmark said the incident was a design of the Zionist regime, which wanted to sour relations between Iran and Thailand as well as hurt the stability of the world.

"You can see this kind of scenario taking place in different countries some months ago, like a chain … one after another. And it shows who is behind this scenario, which is dangerous for the stability and peace in the region," Bizmark said.

He added that the embassy was ready to cooperate with Thai officials in order to get to the bottom of the incident.

"All these incidents or scenarios were prepared and directed by elements of the Zionist regime. They started this chain by sending fabricated news all around the world. They are the first suspects," he added.

When asked if Iran was concerned about the attempts being made to implicate it in the bomb blasts, Bizmark said: "Of course, we are concerned. We are concerned because we are looking for peace. We are looking out for stability not just between two countries, but in the region and the world."

Asked if Thailand was being dragged into the conflict, Bizmark said IranianThai relationship has been flourishing for four centuries and official diplomatic ties have been ongoing for 57 years.

"When we reveal this relationship historically and diplomatically, there has never been any kind of tension between the two countries under the framework of bilateral relations," he said. "Who wants to sabotage this good relationship? That's our concern really. I am confident that through the wise management of the Thai officials they will not succeed in [damaging the good relations between the two countries]."

Bizmark added that Iran had not been affected by the economic and financial sanctions imposed by the West because the country had natural resources and could survive on its own. In fact, he said, the sanctions are nothing new because they have been going on and off over the past three decades.

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Iran-envoy-claims-Zionist-regime-behind-blasts-30176145.html

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