Who did it & why? Too early to rule out any motive

Who did it & why? Too early to rule out any motive

Was it a red shirt faction? Uighurs seeking revenge? Southern Muslim insurgents? the Islamic State (IS) ? Assessment & ranking by experts, as well as daily recap of events.


Analysis: Too early to rule out any motives

Nopporn Wong-Anan

Developments in the Bangkok bomb attack during the last day include: 1. tracking down the tuk-tuk driver who drove the bombing suspect to the Erawan shrine the night of the bombing, 2. clearing the two men who stood in front of the suspected bomber as he left the backpack at the shrine, and 3. a TV re-enactment of the bombing at the actual bomb site being stopped by angry onlookers.

Nation TV news team member dressed up as bombing suspect reenacting crime being stopped by angry onlookers (Source: Twitter)

The tuk-tuk driver who drove the suspected bomber to the bombing site told the police he picked up the suspect at Hua Lamphong railway station. The suspect told him to take him to "Chula" (Chulalongkorn University) but later used a map on his mobile phone to find directions to the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel near the shrine.

The two men who stood in front of the alleged bomber contacted the police last night and denied involvement and said they will turn themselves in to authorities soon. CCTV footage also shows the two men shocked by the sound of the explosion and quickly seeking cover, so police do not believe they were involved.

Nation TV has issued a public apology for its attempt to recreate the Erawan Shrine "bomb moment" with a news team member wearing similar clothing playing the role of the suspected bomber at the scene of the actual bombing (See full story here).

In this series of CCTV images released by police and reconstructed by the media, the presumed bomber in the yellow shirt hailed and took a tuk-tuk to the Erawan shrine on Monday evening. Authorities are under fire for trying to claim they know why the bomber acted - but really are just setting their own narrative. (Photos courtesy Royal Thai Police via Reuters)


Just a day after the arrest warrant was issued for a suspected "foreigner" bomber in the Erawan shrine blast case, the military junta said it remained confident the attack has no link to international terror networks.

Regional security analysts think otherwise...

Experts have suggested it is premature for the government to rule out any theories at all, given the lack of any hard evidence.

"Every hypothesis that has been presented has holes and inconsistencies that investigators and analysts are still unable to explain credibly," said Ambika Ahuja, Southeast Asia analyst at the political risk consultancy Eurasia Group.


Despite suggestions by Gen Prayut that anti-government groups might have had a hand in the attack, Ms Ambika said the timing was not right if their goal was to force an early election.

"This attack, if anything, would push elections further away and distract from the electoral roadmap," she said.

The theory that the damage was inflicted by a red-shirt protester should be given a possibility rating of between "very low" to "moderately high", American security consultant Zachary Abuza writes.

Mr Abuza graded the domestic motive "moderate" as it would discredit the junta for being unable to provide security in the heart of Bangkok and devastate the already fragile economy.

But past attacks reveal red-shirt attacks are on a small scale, amateurish, and certainly do not inflict mass casualties.

"If you wanted to hurt the junta, this would do," he said, although he cautioned that such an attack would be "counterproductive to their cause and give the junta and their supporters greater cause to crack down and cling to power".


On the Uighur revenge theory -- the hypothesis which Thai police believe and the Chinese media suggest -- Mr Abuza ranks that "low" as he doesn't think the Muslim Chinese ethnic group has a network large and sophisticated enough to carry out such an attack.

"Uighurs do have a legitimate grievance against the junta. And there is clearly a growing radicalisation among them," he wrote. "But an attack like that would lose all public or international sympathy."  

Flip-flopping on his earlier remarks, Gen Prayut said Thursday the Uighur revenge motive was one of the three theories the authorities had so far. On Wednesday he ruled out this police suggestion.

But Ms Ambika said patterns for politically motivated terror attacks are not always uniform, and silence from the culprits does not rule out any agenda driven political groups.

"Looking at the pattern of whether or not a group claims responsibility for an attack can potentially generate false signals," said Ms Ambika, who noted that many attacks in the Middle East and North Africa go unclaimed.


On whether southern Muslim insurgents may be to blame, Mr Abuza ranked this theory "moderately high". There is evidence the militants had expanded their work beyond the four southernmost provinces.

The April car bomb attack at the underground parking area of the Central Festival Shopping Mall on Koh Samui in which several people were injured was initially blamed by the ruling junta on the "old power clique".

But a police investigation led to the arrest of two Thai Muslim suspects on charges of terrorism and attempted murder. Another was killed while on the run and there are warrants out for six others.

Although the bomb set off at the Erawan shrine, an improvised explosive device (IED) made of galvanised steel pipe with ball bearings inside and lids on both ends, was different from IEDs commonly used in the Muslim South, the southern insurgents have the ability to make "fairly sophisticated IEDs inflicting mass casualties", said Mr Abuza.

"The junta wants it not to be southern insurgents, because if it is, then they have to do something about it," said Mr Abuza, the author of Conspiracy of Silence: The Insurgency in Southern Thailand.

"There is palpable frustration with the peace process and lack of government will, especially with the military's hold on power extended to 2017. They know they have to escalate violence or else the junta will never negotiate in a serious manner."

But such an attack would lead to a major crackdown by security forces and cause the movement to lose the "little international support or sympathy it enjoys", he said.


Mr Abuza also ranked the Islamic State (IS) theory as "moderately high" as IS has "plenty of people in Bangkok who live in the shadows that it could draw on".

But it is not known to have operating cells in Thailand.

Eurasia's Ms Ambika would also not rule out the probability of a revenge attack by those in the armed forces who have been sidelined in recent years and in the upcoming reshuffle.

"The incident highlights the fragility of peace in Bangkok and will increase the stakes for the army government."


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  • actual: real; existing in fact - จริง
  • adj (noun): connected with soldiers or the armed forces - ในทางทหาร,เกี่ยวกับทหาร
  • agenda: a set of goals - เบื้องลึก
  • amateurish: done like an amateur would do it, a person who takes part in a sport or other activity for enjoyment, not as a job มือสมัครเล่น -
  • analysis: the detailed study or examination of something in order to understand more about it; the result of the study - การวิเคราะห์
  • analyst: a person whose job involves examining facts or materials in order to give an opinion on them - นักวิเคราะห์
  • anti (adjective): against - ตรงกันข้าม, ต้าน
  • apology: an act of saying sorry - คำขอโทษ
  • arrest: (of the police or, in this case, soldiers) to take someone under control because they are believed to have committed a crime - จับกุม
  • arrest warrant: a document signed by a judge allowing police to arrest someone - หมายจับ
  • attempt (noun): when a person tries to do something or achieve some goal, makes an effort to do it - ความพยายาม
  • authority (noun): a person or government agency who has the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
  • backpack: a large bag, often supported on a light metal frame, carried on the back and used especially by people who go climbing or walking - เป้สะพายหลัง, กระเป๋าสะพายหลัง
  • ball bearing: small metal balls used in machines - ตลับลูกปืนเม็ดกลม
  • based: living or working in a particular placed; located in a particular place - อาศัย
  • blame: to be responsible for something bad - เหตุขัดข้อง
  • blame: to say or think that someone or something did something wrong or is responsible for something bad happening - ตำหนิ
  • blast: an explosion - การระเบิด
  • carry out (verb): to do something, to finish and complete a task - ทำให้สมบูรณ์, ทำให้สำเร็จ
  • case: a matter that is being officially investigated, especially by the police - คดี
  • casualty (noun): victim; someone/ something that has been harmed, injured or killed as the result of a bad event such as a disaster or crime (casualties: the number of dead or injured) - เหยื่อผู้เคราะห์ร้าย; จำนวนคนตายหรือได้รับบาดเจ็บ
  • cause: movement; an aim, idea, or organisation that you support or work for - วัตถุประสงค์ อุดมการณ์
  • caution: careful thought and lack of hurry in order to try to avoid risks or danger - ความระมัดระวัง
  • CCTV footage: video from a CCTV camera - ภาพหรือหนังในเทปวิดีโอจากกล้องวงจรปิดเพื่อรักษาการความปลอดภัย
  • certain (adj): some; particular things, people or groups without giving any more details about it or them - บ้าง
  • charge : an official statement accusing someone of committing a crime - ข้อกล่าวหา
  • claims responsibility: saying that yes, I was the one who did it -
  • clear: to prove that somebody is innocent, i.e., that someone is not guilty of what they have been accused of - พิสูจน์ว่าไม่มีความผิด
  • cling to: to try very hard to keep something - ยึดติดไว้
  • clique: a small group of people who spend their time together and do not allow others to join them - กลุ่ม สมัครพรรคพวก
  • commonly (adverb): ordinarily, generally - อย่างธรรมดา
  • confident: being certain of your abilities or of having trust in people, plans, or the future - มั่นใจ
  • conscious: aware; noticing that something exists or is happening and realising that it is important - ความสำนึก ความตระหนักถึง
  • constantly: continuously; all the time - อย่างต่อเนื่อง
  • consultancy: the service of providing expert advice and help in some area - ปรึกษา, ปรึกษาหารือ
  • consultant: a person who knows a lot about a particular subject and is employed to give advice about it to other people - ผู้ให้คำปรึกษา
  • contact (noun): having communication with someone - การติดต่อ การสัมผัส
  • counterproductive (adj): having the opposite effect to the one which was intended ไม่สร้างสรรค์ - ไม่สร้างสรรค์
  • cover (noun): a place that provides shelter from bad weather or protection from an attack - ที่ปลอดภั, ที่หลบ
  • crack down: to start dealing with someone or something much more strictly - เข้มงวด การปราบปรามหรือลงโทษอย่างรุนแรง
  • crackdown: strong action that someone in authority takes to stop a particular activity - การใช้กำลังเข้าปราบปรามของเจ้าหน้าที่
  • credibly: in a believable way, able to be believed or trusted - น่าเชื่อถือ
  • culprit: someone who has done something wrong - ผู้กระทำความผิด
  • damage (verb): to harm or spoil something/somebody - ทำความเสียหาย
  • denied (verb): said that something is not true or did not happen - ปฏิเสธ
  • despite (prep): used to show that something happened or is true although something else might have happened to prevent it; used to show that somebody did not intend to do the thing mentioned - ถึงอย่างไรก็ตาม, ทั้ง ๆ ที่
  • devastate: to destroy a place or thing completely or cause great damage - ทำลายล้าง
  • development: a new event or stage that is likely to affect what happens in a continuing situation - ความคืบหน้า
  • directions (noun): instructions for for getting to a place or doing something - การบอกทาง, การชี้ทาง, การชี้แนะ
  • discredit: to cause people to stop respecting someone or believing in an idea or person - ทำให้สูญเสียความเชื่อถือ,ทำให้เสื่อมเสียชื่อเสียง
  • distract: to take your attention away from something - ทำให้ไขว้เขว เสียสมาธิ
  • domestic: inside the country being talked about - ภายในประเทศ
  • driven: determined to do something; motivated - ซึ่งมีแรงบันดาลใจ, ซึ่งกระตุ้น
  • effort: an attempt to do something - ความพยายาม
  • election (noun): the process of choosing a person or a group of person for a position, especially by voting - การเลือกตั้ง
  • electoral (adl): involving an election; concerning an election - เกี่ยวกับการเลือกตั้ง
  • escalate (verb): to make something increase in amount or strength; to make larger; to scale up; to ramp up - ยกระดับ; เสริม
  • ethnic group: a group of people with the same language, culture and history, usually a minority, not the largest group in the country - กลุ่มชาติพันธุ์
  • evidence: facts statements or objects that help to prove whether or not someone has committed a crime - หลักฐาน
  • expand: to make or become larger (noun form: expansion) - ทำให้กว้าง, ทำให้ขยาย
  • expert: someone who has a particular skill or who knows a lot about a particular subject - ผู้เชี่ยวชาญ
  • explosion (noun): the sudden violent bursting and loud noise of something such as a bomb exploding; the act of deliberately causing something to explode - การระเบิด
  • explosive devices: pieces of equipment that can cause explosions - สิ่งที่ระเบิดได้
  • extend: to add more time - ยืดออกไป
  • false: not true -
  • flak: criticism - การวิจารณ์, การต่อต้าน
  • flip-flopping: quickly and completely changing what you said or an idea, plan, policy, etc. -
  • force (noun): making someone do something that they don't want to do - การบังคับ
  • fragile: easy to break or damage - ที่เปราะบาง ที่หักง่าย
  • frustration: an annoyed or discouraged feeling because you cannot do or have what you want - ความผิดหวัง, ความไม่พอใจ
  • generate: to produce - ผลิต, ก่อให้เกิด
  • goal: aim; purpose - เป้าหมาย จุดมุ่งหมาย
  • grade (noun): a level of quality of importance; class, rank, standard - ระดับ, ระดับคะแนน, เกรด
  • grievance: a complaint about being treated in an unfair way - ความคับข้องใจ
  • had a hand in: participated in; to take part in or become involved in an activity - มีส่วน
  • hard: definitely true and based on information that can be proved - เป็นจริง
  • heart: centre (of an activity) - ศูนย์กลาง
  • holes: things or events that a theory does not explain -
  • hypothesis: an idea or explanation of something that is based on a few known facts but that has not yet been proved to be true or correct; guesses and ideas that are not based on certain knowledge - ข้อสันนิษฐาน, สมมุติฐาน
  • improvised: invented or made using whatever is available, usually because you do not have what you really need; made at the time when it is needed without already having planned it - กระทำหรือประพันธ์อย่างไม่ได้มีการตระเตรียมมาก่อน หรืออย่างทันทีทันควัน
  • inconsistency: something that does not match something else - ปมคดี หรือ ความไม่ต่อเนื่องบางประการ
  • inflict: to cause something bad to happen to someone or something - ทำให้เสียหาย
  • initially: at first - ในเบื้องต้น
  • injured (adj): hurt in an accident, natural disaster, attack, etc. - ได้รับบาดเจ็บ
  • insurgent: someone who belongs to a group of people fighting to take control of their country by force - กลุ่มก่อการกบถ
  • international: connected with or involving two or more countries - นานาชาติ, สากล, ระหว่างประเทศ
  • investigation: the process of trying to find out all the details or facts about something in order to discover who or what caused it or how it happened - การสอบสวน, การตรวจสอบหาข้อเท็จจริง
  • investigator: someone whose job is to officially find out the facts about something - ผู้สอบสวน, ผู้สำรวจ, ผู้ตรวจสอบ
  • involved (verb): taking part or having a role in something - เกี่ยวข้อง, มีบทบาท
  • involvement: the act or process of taking part in something - การเกี่ยวข้อง
  • issue: to give or provide something official - แจกจ่าย
  • junta: a group of military officers that governs a country, usually without having been elected - รัฐบาลทหาร
  • lack of: when there is not enough of something - ขาด
  • legitimate: reasonable and acceptable - ถูกต้องสมควร
  • link: a connection - การเชื่อมต่อ
  • major: very large or important - สำคัญมาก
  • manner: way - ลักษณะท่าทาง, กิริยาท่าทาง, วิธีการ
  • mass: a large amount of something - ปริมาณมาก
  • mass: large numbers - จำนวนมหาศาล
  • media: radio, television, newspaper, the Internet, considered as a group - สื่อ
  • militant: of people who use violent or forceful methods to achieve something - ผู้ใช้ความรุนแรงในการโจมตี
  • moderate: neither very great nor very small in strength, size, amount or degree - ระดับปานกลาง
  • moderately: by an amount that is neither very great nor very small in strength, size, amount or degree ระดับปานกลาง -
  • moment: a very short period of time; a particular time or occasion - ชั่วขณะ, โอกาสสำคัญ
  • motive: a reason for doing something - แรงจูงใจ
  • movement (noun): a group of people who share the same aim and work together to achieve it - การเคลื่อนไหวเพื่อวัตถุประสงค์ทางการเมือง
  • murder (noun): the crime of intentionally killing a person - ฆาตกรรม
  • narrative: a description of events, especially in a story or novel - เรื่องเล่า
  • negotiate: to try to reach an agreement by discussing something in a formal way - เจรจาต่อรอง
  • network: a large system of connected parts, organisations, people, etc. - เครือข่าย
  • officials: people who have the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
  • on the part of: done by, or they are responsible for -
  • on the run: running away from something , such as the police -
  • onlooker (noun): people who watch something that is happening in a public place but are not involved in it ผู้ดูเหตุการณ์ - ผู้ดูเหตุการณ์
  • otherwise (adverb): in a different way to the way mentioned; differently - แตกต่าง,ตรงกันข้าม
  • palpable: easily noticed by the mind or the senses - ชัดเจน
  • parking area: a place where motor vehicles, aircraft, etc. are parked - ลานจอด
  • pattern: a series of actions or events that together show how things normally happen or are done - แบบฉบับ, แบบแผน
  • peace: a calm and quiet situation without any violence - สงบ, ซึ่งมีระเบียบ, เงียบสงบ
  • picked up (verb): got a person, group or thing at one place to bring them to another place - รับ (ของหรือคน)
  • pipe (noun): a long tube used for carrying water, oil, gas, etc. from one place to another place - ท่อ
  • politically motivated (adjective): when an even happens for political reasons -
  • possibility: the fact that something might exist or happen, but is not certain to - สิ่งที่เป็นไปได้
  • potentially: possibly - เป็นไปได้
  • power (noun): political control of a country or an area; having a lot of influence and authority to control people and situations - อำนาจ
  • premature: too soon to do something - ก่อนเวลา
  • present: showing something to people, for possible acceptance - การแสดง
  • present (verb): to show - แสดง
  • process: a series of actions that you take in order to achieve a result - แนวทางปฏิบัติ, กระบวน, วิธีการ
  • protester: someone who shows that they disagree with something by standing somewhere, shouting, carrying signs, etc - ผู้ต่อต้าน, ผู้ประท้วง
  • province: one of many divisions of the government of a country into smaller parts - จังหวัด
  • public: the public; all people; the people in general - มหาชน, ประชาชน
  • public: open to people in general; intending to be seen or heard by people in general - อย่างเปิดเผย
  • public (noun): people - ผู้คน
  • radicalisation (noun): the process of become radical (in favour of complete change) or extreme in your political, social or religious beliefs. - การแปรเปลี่ยนเป็นคนหัวรุนแรง
  • railway: the whole transportation system of trains connecting stations along rail tracks - รางรถไฟ, ระบบทางรถไฟ
  • rank: to put someone or something into a position according to their success, importance, size etc - จัดลำดับ
  • re-enactment (noun): repeating the actions of a past event แผนประกอบ, การทำซ้ำ - แผนประกอบ, การทำซ้ำ
  • regime: a government that controls a country, especially in a strict or unfair way - รัฐบาลที่ขึ้นมาปกครองโดยการยึดอำนาจ
  • regional: of or relating to a region - เกี่ยวกับภูมิภาค
  • remark: something said - คำพูด
  • reveal: to show or let something become known - เปิดเผย
  • revenge: something that you do to hurt or punish someone because they have hurt you or someone else - การแก้แค้น
  • risk: the possibility that something dangerous or unpleasant might happen - ความเสี่ยง
  • roadmap (noun): plan -
  • role: the position or purpose that someone or something has in a situation, organisation, society or relationship - บทบาท
  • rule out: to stop considering something as a possibility - ประกาศว่าเป็นสิ่งที่เป็นไปไม่ได้
  • ruled out: stopped considering this as a possibility - ประกาศว่าเป็นสิ่งที่เป็นไปไม่ได้
  • ruling: having control over a particular group, country, etc - ซึ่งมีอำนาจ, ซึ่งปกครอง
  • scale: the size or extent of something, especially when compared with something else - ขนาด, ระดับ
  • scene: site; a place where something happens or happened - สถานที่เกิดเหตุ
  • security: protection; safety from attack, harm, or damage - ความมั่นคง, ระบบรักษาความปลอดภั, ความปลอดภัย
  • security: protection; systems providing for safety from attack, harm, or damage - ระบบรักษาความปลอดภัย
  • security forces (noun): members of the military (army, navy, air force, and similar organizations) or police -
  • set off: to cause a situation or a series of events to happen, especially without intending to - ก่อให้เกิด
  • shock: to surprise, or frighten someone - ทำให้ตกใจ, ทำให้สั่นสะเทือน
  • shrine: a place for worship which is holy because of a connection with a holy person or object - สถานที่บูชา
  • signal: to be a sign that something exists or is likely to happen - ส่งสัญญาณ
  • silence: a situation in which somebody refuses to talk about something or to answer questions - การไม่พูด, ความเงียบ
  • similar: like somebody/something but not exactly the same - คล้ายกัน
  • site: a place where something happened - ที่เกิดเหตุ
  • so far: up until this time - จนถึงทุกวันนี้
  • sophisticated: complicated and advanced in design or planning - ซับซ้อน
  • sophisticated: complicated and advanced in design - ที่มีการออกแบบให้ซับซ้อน
  • southernmost: the most southern, the farthest south that you can go -
  • station: train station; a place where a train stops and picks up passengers and cargo - สถานีรถไฟฟ้า
  • steel (noun): a strong hard metal that is made of a mixture of iron and carbon - เหล็ก
  • suggest: to mention an idea or a plan for somebody else to think about - เสนอ, เสนอแนะ
  • suggestion: an idea or a plan that you mention for somebody else to think about - ข้อเสนอ, ข้อเสนอแนะ
  • support (noun): giving help, encouragement or sympathy to somebody - การสนับสนุน, การเป็นกำลังใจ
  • supporter (noun): a person who helps and supports a person, organization or idea - ผู้สนับสนุน
  • suspect: a person who is thought to have committed a crime - ผู้ต้องสงสัย
  • suspected: thought to have done something wrong - เป็นที่สงสัย
  • sympathy: a natural feeling of kindness and understanding that you have for someone who is experiencing something very unpleasant - ความเห็นอกเห็นใจ
  • terror: violence used for making people very frightened in order to achieve political aims - การก่อการร้าย  การสร้างความหวาดกลัว
  • terrorism: the use of violence to achieve political aims - การใช้ความรุนแรงเพื่อข้อเรียกร้องทางการเมือง
  • theory: one or more ideas that explain how or why something happens - สมมติฐาน
  • timing: the act of choosing when something happens; a particular point or period of time when something happens or is planned - การตัดสินเลือกเวลา, การเลือกเวลาที่เหมาะสมที่สุด
  • tracking down: trying to find someone or something - ตามรอย
  • turn in (verb): to give something to the person who has officially asked for it or who is in charge - ส่ง
  • turn themselves in: go to the police when they suspect you of a crime -
  • unclaimed: that nobody has claimed as belonging to them or being owed to them - ทรัพย์สินที่ไม่มีผู้เรียกเอ
  • underground: operating secretly and often illegally - ใต้ดิน
  • uniform: when everything is the same; without differences -
  • university (noun): a school where students study for BA, MA, MS and PhD degrees and where research is done - มหาวิทยาลัย
  • violence: physical force with the deliberate intention of causing damage to property or injury or death to people - ความรุนแรง, การใช้กำลังทำลาย
  • warrant (noun): a legal document that is signed by a judge and gives the police authority to do something - หมาย
  • will: a determination to do something, despite any difficulties or opposition - ความตั้งใจ
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