Hizbollah plotters thwarted in Thailand

A Hizbollah cell was plotting to carry out attacks against Israeli targets in Thailand, it was revealed this week. One Lebanese citizen who was arrested led investigators to a stockpile of four tons of chemicals for bomb-making.

Hizbollah is believed to be planning attacks against Israelis in a number of countries in Asia and Europe.

Atris Hussein, a Lebanese with Swedish citizenship was arrested over the weekend while trying to flee Thailand. Following questioning, he revealed a warehouse in Bangkok which contained 4400 kilogrammes of fertiliser, and chemicals, including ammonium nitrate, routinely used by terror organisations to make bombs.

Thai security forces are still searching for at least one more Lebanese man believed to be part of the terror cell. Israeli security officials believe that the cell's main targets were areas in Thailand's capital where Israeli tourists gather, such as Khaosan Road and the Bangkok Chabad House.

Israel and the United States supplied the Thais with information that led to the arrest. Israel's Counter-Terrorism Bureau warned citizens last Friday against visiting Bangkok, saying that there was "a very high concrete threat" of a terror attack. Israelis already in the city were advised to stay away from places normally frequented by Israeli tourists.

Over the last five and a half years, since the end of the Second Lebanon War, Hizbollah has been wary of reopening warfare with Israel and refrained from attacking across the Lebanese border. But Israeli intelligence has been aware of plans by Hizbollah to carry out attacks on Israeli targets abroad since the assassination of its operations chief, Imad Mughniyeh, in an explosion in Damascus in February 2008.

At least one cell was also believed to be active during 2010 in Britain. A plan to attack the Israeli embassy in Azerbaijan was foiled three years ago and similar plans to attack the Israeli consulate in Istanbul have been reported. Security sources are convinced that Hizbollah is still active in Europe: two weeks ago, a Lebanese suspect was arrested in Bulgaria.

Last updated: 12:34pm, January 19 2012