WSJ: Thai police said one of several missing suspects in a botched bomb plot that rattled Bangkok earlier this week is a 52-year-old man who might have served as an explosives training expert to help aid the strike aimed at Israeli diplomats in the city. The Wall Street Journal
By JAMES HOOKWAY
BANGKOK—Thai police said one of several missing suspects in a botched bomb plot that rattled Bangkok earlier this week is a 52-year-old man who might have served as an explosives training expert to help aid the strike aimed at Israeli diplomats in the city.
Police said they are now hunting for the sixth suspect, 52-year-old Javad Nikkhahfard, a suspected explosives expert who like the other alleged plotters is believed to have come from the Middle East to Thailand. Bangkok police Commissioner Lt. Gen. Winai Thongsong said Mr. Nikkhahfard was seen leaving the suspects’ rented home shortly before their explosives appeared to have been prematurely detonated.
It is unclear whether the man, whose nationality hasn’t been released, is still in Thailand or whether he has already left the country.
Thai authorities have said the suspects, including several Iranian nationals, planned to assassinate Israeli officials here amid worsening tension between Iran and Israel over Tehran’s nuclear program. The plot unraveled when the group apparently detonated some of their bomb devices accidentally on Tuesday, shortly after Israel claimed that Iranian-backed operatives were behind bomb plots in India and Georgia on Monday. Thai national police chief Prewpan Damapong Wednesday said the explosives used in India and recovered in Georgia were “sticky” magnetic devices similar to those found at the Bangkok suspects’ base.
Iran has said it had nothing to do with the explosions.
A senior official in Israel’s counterterrorism headquarters said told reporters onFriday the investigations of the bombings have indicated that Hezbollah and Iran are planning to carry out more attacks, but said the intelligence wasn’t of a specific nature.
Tuesday’s explosions occurred in a busy Bangkok neighborhood and forced the bombers to flee their rented home. One alleged bomber, 28-year-old Saeid Moradi, lost his legs after he attempted to throw a bomb at police, only to have it explode at his feet.
Three alleged plotters have been detained so far. Mr. Moradi and Mohammad Kharzei were arrested in Thailand while another, Masoud Sedaghatazadeh, was detained in Malaysia after fleeing Bangkok. A woman who rented the home in which the men were living is also wanted, but police said they believe she already has returned to Iran. Authorities are also looking for a man who accompanied the woman.
Investigators meanwhile said they are receiving additional information about the suspected bombers’ movements from a surprising source: several sex workers with whom the men cavorted at Thailand’s infamous sleazy beach resort, Pattaya.
Investigators told reporters that one of the women was brought to Bangkok, where she helped identify the suspects, who haven’t yet been formally charged. The woman, identified as Ms. Nan in local media reports, presented police with photographs taken on her cellphone.
The pictures showed the men relaxing with at least two women around a low table laden with drinks and a hookah pipe. Officials said the photographs help show that Messrs. Moradi, Kharzei and Sedaghatazadeh knew each other.
The Bangkok Post newspaper reported one of the women as telling police that she and two friends played snooker and hung out with the three men in early February before they moved to the rented house in Bangkok’s Sukhumvit Road district.
—Joshua Mitnick in Tel Aviv contributed to this article.