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Suspected terror Swede charged in Thailand

AFP/The Local · 16 Jan 2012, 11:45

Published: 16 Jan 2012 11:22 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Jan 2012 11:45 GMT+01:00

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The Swedish foreign ministry is still working to ascertain the identity of the man.

According to reports in the Swedish and international press, the man is 47-year-old Hussein Atris, a former Lebanese-born barber who lived for many years in western Sweden before moving back to Lebanon seven years ago.

Atris took Swedish citizenship after marrying a Swedish woman in 1996, Israeli news site Ynet reported.

Atris , who has alleged ties to Hezbollah, was arrested in Thailand last week following a warning from United States about a threat against tourists in the kingdom.

According to the Swedish foreign ministry, he is the holder of a Swedish passport.

"A person with a Swedish passport has been arrested. We are trying to figure out who he is," foreign ministry spokesman Andre Mkandawire told AFP on Saturday.

"We have received information to that effect but the embassy is trying to figure out if the information is correct," he added.

Following a tip from Atris, Thai police on Monday morning carried out a raid at a warehouse where they discovered more than 4,000 kilogrammes of fertilizer and several litres of liquid ammonium nitrate at a warehouse, the Associated Press (AP) news agency reported, citing Thai media reports.

Citing anonymous sources, the AP reported that Atris told police he had rented the warehouse last year along with three other accomplices.

Later on Monday, Atris was charged with illegal possession of explosives material, the AP reported.

According to his wife, Atris was in Thailand on business at the time of his arrest.

Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung had told AFP by telephone Friday that the suspect detained on Thursday was from Lebanon.

"We already have one suspect in custody for interrogation at a government building in Bangkok. He is a Hezbollah from Lebanon," he said.

A senior Thai intelligence officer who did not want to be named told AFP that the kingdom had been informed before the New Year by Israel of a possible threat.

Mkandawire said Swedish embassy officials were trying to work out the confusion.

"It could be that he has dual citizenship, or it may be that he is a Swede of foreign origin," he explained.

Speaking with the Expressen newspaper, the wife of the 47-year-old terror suspect explained that, since moving back to Beruit, her husband had been trying to change careers from that of a barber to trading in “goods from Asia”.

“He's travelled to Thailand several times previously and purchased goods which he then sold in Lebanon,” Rania Koubaisi, Atris's wife, told the newspaper from her current home in Libya.

She denied suspicions that her husband was a terrorist.

“Why would he do something like this? I'm one hundred percent sure that this is a misunderstanding,” she told the newspaper.

Story continues below…

As of Sunday, officials from the Swedish embassy had still not been able to meet with Atris, nor confirm his identity.

“The embassy in Bangkok has sent a request to the Thai foreign ministry asking for clarity in this person's identity and nationality,” Mkandawire told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

A friend of Atris told Expressen the 47-year-old had returned to Sweden a few years ago to renew his Swedish passport and was surprised to hear that the amiable man who at one time ran a salon in Gothenburg was now suspected of involvement in a terrorist plot.

“I have no idea what he could have to do with this,” the friend told the newspaper.

“He had a lot of friends and was really friendly and nice. He stood up for all kinds of people.”

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:05 January 16, 2012 by Frobobbles
Beware, here be Terror Swedes!
13:04 January 16, 2012 by Lauren200
This how Americans frame everyone more especially from middle east for terrorism hence holding them for many years with no proof. It hurts, refer to the Guantanamo stories and you shall be shocked.. people's lives are shuttered.

They are the reason why immigrants are flocking Europe from they countries courtesy of them Americans distabilizing their countries hence Europe suffering to cope up with immigrants. Its a pity that being an Arab is SIN
13:19 January 16, 2012 by HYBRED
Yeah, he tells police where a warehouse is with 4000kg of explosive and he was framed.

Europe is suffering to cope with immigrants? If these immigrants were such fine and outstanding people why would there be any suffering by the Europeans? It seems like it should be happy times.
13:37 January 16, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
@ Lauren200

You are suggesting that the Americans maintain a bomb making warehouse in Bangkok that they use whenever they want to frame anyone from the Middle East. Not impossible, but that would be a bit extreme. If they really wanted someone and had zero material evidence, they could use extraordinary rendition, the highly controversial process of kidnapping a man off the streets and flying him to the USA. In that light, one must consider the possibility that the bomb making factory may be a real bomb making factory, and that the accused was indeed planning an act of terror.

As for America as the inifinetly evil de-stabilizing force: Recall that when they supported Sadam Hussein, he was gassing Kurds to death in the north, and when they overthrew him, the Americans were then being blamed for de-stabilizing the country. One must accept that domestic religious and ethnic tensions could be at least partly (or largely) to blame for a lack of stability in those countries.

Presumably you will also accuse NATO and the USA of de-stabilizing Afghanistan, which had state sponsored terrorism and terrorist training camps that assisted with 9/11 and other terror acts. Again, the USA is no angel, and the Taliban may have prevailed this time, but in the absence of Western intervention, we have learned that the 'stable' Afghanistan is a place where men on motorcycles throw acid into the faces of schoolgirls on their way to school, and where adulterers get stoned to death. Progress sometimes requires a bit of de-stabilization.
13:43 January 16, 2012 by bourgeoisieboheme
Always America's fault... civil wars in countries, economic destabilization, etc. are all America's fault eh Lauren200.

Immigrants flock to European countries for more reason than America's involvement in the global political sphere. Immigration to Europe was around far before America existed as did problems with the middle east. Lack of Education, women being non-existent in society, cultural problems, tribal issues, etc. could be more a reason why the middle east is so unstable, not America. The US also invaded and meddled in the affairs of China and Japan as well as France and Germany... seems they are doing OK these days eh!

Time for people to take their own destiny in their hands and not blame their problems on America. Wake up.
14:15 January 16, 2012 by Svensksmith
I'm overweight. I blame America.
15:24 January 16, 2012 by occassional
Swede huh ?
16:21 January 16, 2012 by nar klockan klamtar
His Swedishness is no more than a few words on a piece of paper :)
17:20 January 16, 2012 by jon f
A immigrat who once was to fool the system
18:26 January 16, 2012 by TheWatchman
This kind of thing doesn't happen with Jewish or Buddhist people. It's a good thing the Thai authorities caught him.
18:35 January 16, 2012 by guliver
Well done. it is important an internalional cooperation to fight terrorism and crimes

I guest he will lose his Swedish citenzenship.
19:56 January 16, 2012 by nar klockan klamtar
If guilty, hopefully this disgraceful arab racist will be caged. @TheWatchman... Yes, Jewish people who are everyday targets are very tolerant, and this kind of thing does not happen with them, they just get on with their lives and work hard.
21:12 January 16, 2012 by zooeden
He looks very swedish to me, the question is: Did the swedish police had an archive on this extremist as it claims has hundreds of well identified extremists living in the country????
04:38 January 17, 2012 by godnatt
He wasn't given enough government financial assistance. That's why he became a terrorist.

The answer is more taxes and pay the immigrants more.
11:04 January 17, 2012 by Dave N
Yet again, the Local describes someone as a Swede when it is quite obvious that he is nothing of the sort. This sort of idiocy is a direct and deliberate insult to real Swedes.
00:08 January 19, 2012 by TheWatchman
@ Dave N

I agree completely. One would not consider a Russian spy operating in America an American citizen if discovered. This man never had any loyalty to Sweden or its people. He is simply a terrorist, and does not deserve the word 'Swede' to describe him.

@ nar klockan klamtar

Yeah, Jews just try to adapt, fit in and make a decent, comfortable living. They want nothing more than that when they settle into a new country.
04:57 January 19, 2012 by Jeff10
Send him to Texas. The people of Texas will try'em and fry'em.
20:27 January 24, 2012 by Chickybee
Another example of how Swedish nationality is being completely denegraded - by - yes, a man of Arab/Muslim origin.

If this man is really a terrorist - then simply deport him back to his country of origin and strip him of his valuable Swedish passport.

Sorry but this is disgusting and the government should have the courage to do something about it.
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