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Homeland Security

SLUG: 2-304349 Thailand / Terror (L)









INTRO: Thailand's prime minister says Muslim militants with alleged links to a radical Islamic group were planning to attack foreign embassies in Thailand during a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders meeting later this year. Ron Corben reports from Bangkok.

TEXT: Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said details of the plot came in a confession from a Singaporean man arrested in the Thai capital last month before being deported back to Singapore.

Mr. Thaksin said the man, Arifin bin Ali, revealed the bombing campaign in a written confession to Singaporean authorities. The bombings were to be carried out during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' forum in Bangkok next October.

Leaders of more than 20 countries -- including President Bush -- are due to attend the forum.

Mr. Thaksin said the suspect named the targets of the bombing plot as five embassies -- those of the United States, Australia, the U.K., Israel and Singapore.

Mr. Arifin is the alleged leader of a cell of the Southeast Asian Muslim group Jemaah Islamiyah, or J-I, which is said to have links with the al-Qaida terror network. J-I is accused of a number of terrorist bombings in the region, including the bombing last October on the Indonesian resort island of Bali that killed more than 200 people.

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Mr. Arifin is said to have fled to Thailand from Singapore in January 2002, during a police crackdown on a group allegedly preparing to bomb embassies and key buildings. Those suspects, who are still being held, are also said to be members of Jemaah Islamiyah.

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Earlier this week, Thai police raided several Islamic schools in Thailand's mostly Muslim South, and detained four Thai Muslims suspected of being members of Mr. Arifin's cell. They say other members of the group remain at large, and may have fled into neighboring Malaysia.

Thai police arrested a man Friday trying to sell 30 kilograms of radioactive cesium-137. Such material could be used by terrorists to produce a so-called "dirty bomb," which can contaminate an area with radioactive fall-out when it explodes.

The 44-year-old Thai man has denied any links with any terrorist organizations. (Signed)


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