|Swedish-Lebanese national Atris Hussein in Thai police custody|
Photo credit: AP
Thai authorities obviously failed to buy his story and arrested Atris Hussein, a Swedish-Lebanese national, at the Bangkok airport on January 12th on suspicion of being a Hizbollah operative. It appears that another operative has eluded capture. Hussein, who has not resided in Sweden since 2005, used his Swedish passport to move freely in and out of Thailand.
Hussein was arrested based on his possession of over 4 tons of chemicals which can be used in bomb-making. Hussein stored the chemical in two warehouse locations in Bangkok. According to a number of reports which have emerged in the Swedish and Israeli press, Hussein had been detained earlier and revealed the first warehouse prior to his arrest. He then shifted materials to a second warehouse. Hussein was apparently attempting to flee to Lebanon where he lives in what he describes as a Hizbollah stronghold. According to Thai officials:
“Hussein had admitted to being part of a terrorist cell planning attacks either in Thailand or an unnamed third country and that the plans had been called off after his arrest. He remains in jail on charges of possessing illegal substances and faces five years in a Thai prison if convicted.”
Hussein, however, denies that he is involved with Hizbollah, the Iranian-backed terror group based in Lebanon. Instead, Hussein alleges that the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, planted the chemicals in his warehouse. He claims the Mossad “set him up” since he voted for the Swedish Social Democratic Party. Of course, a large percentage of the Swedish electorate votes for the SDs.
Clearly, the Mossad is concerned not about Swedish votes, but terror. Reprisal attacks have been an issue since February 2008 when Hizbollah military terror chief Imad Mughniyah was killed in a car bombing. Nine months later a massive terror attack in Mumbai killed 164 people, and wounded over 300 more. One target of the Mumbai attacks was the Chabad House. Chabad Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his pregnant wife Rivka were among those murdered.
Heightened security alerts have been in effect in Thailand since December. Many Israelis and Jews travelling abroad visit Chabad Houses making them an “ideal” target for terrorists. Now Thai police have further tightened the 24/7 security around Chabad Houses in Thailand. Chabad authorities are working closely with the Thai police to minimize the threat.
Currently, a “severe travel warning” is in effect and Israelis are advised against travelling to Bangkok. Synagogues and embassy locations are also considered to be potential targets, possibly for car bomb attacks. The U.S. has also issued travellers’ warnings for popular tourist destinations.
According to Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Camilla Åkesson Lindblom, the ministry will be providing consular aid to Hussein, as he is a Swedish citizen. It appears this will include legal aid. SAPO has stated that it regularly cooperates with other security bodies and did not comment on the case.
Aftonbladet was granted an interview with Hussein in jail, and assisted Hussein in getting out his version of his innocence and how the Mossad was punishing him for his pre-2005 voting record.
We understand that Sweden is obliged to provide consular services to its citizens. And we understand that Aftonbladet likes to sell a good Israel-bashing story. But it still doesn’t sit well that Sweden will be providing legal assistance to a suspected terrorist who hasn’t lived in Sweden for nearly seven years.
It’s also clear that when Aftonbladet titles their major article on the would-be Thai bomber ”I voted for for the Social Democrats” that they are helping the Social Dems garner support among Muslim immigrants. Using support for a terror suspect to recruit voters is just ugly.
By Chanah Shapira