Security tightened following IS backer arrest boarding Thai flight to Bangkok
Twenty thousand police officers are to be deployed across the capital for the New Year countdown
Red flags had been raised in Thailand after the arrest of Malaysian national with alleged links to Islamic State (IS) about to board a Thai Airways flight to Bangkok.
On Saturday, 20-year-old Al Muhd Alfie Kqhyriel was arrested at the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, after he was found to be carrying four pistols, eight magazines and 71 bullets hidden in his luggage and shoes.
Red flags had been raised in Thailand as a result of the arrest as security officials were alerted to a possible attack planned in the Thai capital.
The Thai military intelligence unit official added that Malaysian security authorities had also alerted their Thai counterparts on the possibility of IS attacks in the region during the Christmas season.
“His final destination was not Thailand but Malaysia. He was to be in Thailand just for transit to Malaysia,” said a source at a military intelligence unit
Twenty thousand police officers are to be deployed across the capital for the New Year countdown, especially at four major spots where revellers will gather in large numbers.
CentralWorld, where a bomb went off during the 2006 New Year countdown, is expected to be the most crowded venue with at least 125,000 revellers, some 25,000 more than last year.
Though Thai officials have played down the arrest of the Malaysian as being a security threat, they remain on full alert for any possible attack, the report said.
“Malaysia did not specifically say where or how a possible attack would occur but mentioned various possibilities, including an attack on some crowded venue or hijack,” the Thai official was quoted as saying by Bangkok Post, adding that the warning did not specify Thailand.
If the IS suspect wanted to travel from Karachi to Malaysia he would need to take a connecting flight at Suvarnabhumi where security checks would have been conducted on him and his baggage, the executive said.
“Given the tight security measures and advanced technology at airports, it would be extremely difficult for anyone to be able to smuggle such a large amount of firearms and bullets through the airport and on to a commercial airliner, the official said.
“It would be ridiculous for the suspect to think that he could have carried those firearms and bullets on board.”
Despite tight security being put in place, Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat asked the public Monday to help look out for any suspicious activities, and report them to the authorities. He asked revellers to capture any such footage on their smartphones for potential use as evidence.
Terrorism Risks Rising In Malaysia As Islamic State Militants Return
Malaysia’s Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed recently expressed concerns over the threat of returning militants from the Middle East and the Philippines.
The fall of Marawi, following the deaths of the insurgency’s two most senior commanders, came days after the Syrian city of Raqqa was recaptured by a US-backed coalition of Arab and Kurdish fighters.
Several hundred Malaysians have travelled to the Islamic State since 2013. In a new development, around thirty joined forces with the pro-IS Maute group in Marawi earlier this year.