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Thailand Arrests Five Terrorist Suspects Including Two Burmese - 2003-08-23


Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra says five foreigners suspected of links to terrorism have been arrested as part of a recent crackdown.

Mr.Thaksin said during his weekly radio address today (Saturday) that three Pakistani and two Burmese nationals were detained in the northern province of Chiang Mai. The prime minister said the men were arrested for immigration violations --but their behavior indicated they could have terrorist links.

Mr. Thaksin said a Thai national had also been arrested for giving shelter to the five men in his house. Thailand has been on a security alert since terrorism suspect Hambali was taken into custody last week in central Thailand. Mr. Thaksin said (on Friday) Hambali was plotting attacks on the U-S, Australian and Israeli embassies in Bangkok.

Hambali--an Indonesian national whose real name is Riduan Isamuddin--is believed to be the operations chief of the regional militant group Jemaah Islamiyah. The group is suspected to be linked to the al-Qaida terrorist network and has believed to be responsible for a number of deadly bombings in the Philippines and Indonesia.

Hambali is currently in U.S. custody in an undisclosed location. Indonesia wants the United States to turn him over for trial. Philippines, Malaysia and Australia also want him extradited to face terrorist charges.

Information for this report is provided by AFP and Reuters.

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