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Bomb materials meant for the Mideast: Police

Jan 21. 2012
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By THE NATION

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Destined for 3 nations; suspect says material left in shophouse by Mossad

Police have discovered that the foreign suspect who has been detained over his alleged links to a terror network had been planning to send bomb-making materials to three countries in the Middle East, a source revealed yesterday.

“The suspect had contacted an export company on Sukhumvit Soi 3,” the source said.

Atris Hussein, who holds both Lebanese and Swedish nationalities, was nabbed at Suvarnabhumi Airport early this month. He has been widely linked to Hezbollah, a militant group and political party based in Lebanon.

His arrest has since become big news.

However, in a recent interview, Hussein told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that he was set up.

“A lot of the material that police found in my storage facility had been placed there, most likely by the Israeli intelligence service Mossad,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

In his interview, Hussein insisted that he ran an export business, which involved his buying goods in Asia and sending them to other countries, including Lebanon.

“The products were fans, copy paper, ice packs used for pain relief,” he told the paper.

However, the source said yesterday that another foreigner was believed to have paid Hussein about US$5,000 (Bt150,000) after checking on the bomb-making materials at his shophouse in Samut Sakhon. Police uncovered huge amounts of ammonium nitrate and urea fertiliser at the site, and since the former is a controlled substance in Thailand, Hussein is being charged with having a prohibited substance in his possession.

Police have also issued an arrest warrant for Jieme Paolo or Sami Sam, a 42-year-old Lebanese national, on the same charge. He has been described as one of Hussein’s accomplices.

“We have been checking whether this suspect has left the country,” Deputy Metropolitan Police Commissioner General Pansiri Prapawat said.

He added that Paolo had been living in the shophouse rented by Hussein. This is in addition to the sketch of a third man that was displayed by police spokesman Maj-General Piya Utayo.

“We have to find out more about the man in the sketch before taking further action,” Pansiri said.

According to Pansiri, Hussein had travelled in and out of Thailand about 11 times over the past few years. He and his accomplices had rented a house opposite Tesco Lotus superstore in Samut Sakhon from 2009 to late 2010, before moving to the shophouse.

“We have acquired more evidence but cannot reveal it at this point,” Pansiri said.

According to an English translation of the report published by Aftonbladet posted on www.thelocal.se,

Hussein is 47, moved to Sweden in 1989 and took Swedish citizenship in 1994. In 2005, he moved back to Lebanon but held on to his Swedish passport. The report also said Hussein used to work as a hairdresser in Gothenburg.

China yesterday became the first country to revoke its warning to citizens about the terrorism threat in Thailand, according to Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul. About 20 countries issued such warnings.

Surapong said the move would bolster tourism and encourage other countries to remove their warnings.

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