Ishan led Uighur-trafficking network, Somyot says

Ishan led Uighur-trafficking network, Somyot says

Uighur Muslim migrants captured last year after being trafficked through southern Thailand were held at a detention centre in Songkhla province before all the men were deported to China and the rest to Turkey in July. Authorities claim traffickers planned the Erawan shrine bombing in retaliation. (Post Today photo)
Uighur Muslim migrants captured last year after being trafficked through southern Thailand were held at a detention centre in Songkhla province before all the men were deported to China and the rest to Turkey in July. Authorities claim traffickers planned the Erawan shrine bombing in retaliation. (Post Today photo)

Police believe Abudureheman Abususataer, the suspected mastermind behind last month’s Erawan shrine bombing, led a transnational network trafficking Chinese Uighurs that was disrupted by Thailand’s people-smuggling crackdown.

National police chief Somyot Pumpunmuang said Tuesday that Turkey denied Mr Abususataer, better known as "Ishan", had flown from Dkaka to Istanbul via New Delhi and Abu Dhabi Aug 30, as asserted by a joint investigative team of Thai police and the Bangladeshi embassy in Bangkok.

The Aug 17 blast at the Ratchaprasong intersection shrine and the failed bombing of the Sathorn pier the following day are connected to the July 9 attack on the Thai consulate-general in Istanbul, he said. Both stem from Turkish anger over Thailand's forced repatriation of 109 Uighur Muslims to China in July, Pol Gen Somyot added.

Thailand disrupted the network's movement of the migrants when it captured them and placed them in a detention camp in southern Thailand last year before deporting them blindfolded and under armed guard, Pol Gen Somyot said.

The country then launched a major crackdown on human traffickers following the discovery of mass Rohingya Muslim and Bangladeshi graves on the Malaysian border May 1.

"Put simply, we destroyed their business," the police chief told his daily media briefing.

Other leads

As the hunt for Ishan goes on, police also are continuing their hunt for the yellow-shirted man believed to have placed the pipe bomb at the Erawan shrine, as well as suspects in the pier bombing and their international supporters.

Pol Gen Somyot said Tuesday he could not confirm a report that the yellow-shirted bomber had fled to Pakistan, one of several countries the Royal Thai Police is coordinating search efforts with.

A Pakistani and two Malaysians were arrested in Malaysia in the past few days and deputy police chief Chakthip Chaichinda and a team of investigators left Tuesday for Kuala Lumpur to determine if the men had any useful information on the bombings, Pol Gen Somyot said.

Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said in a Monday interview that the suspects were arrested under Malaysia's security law.

"Police have arrested three individuals, including a Pakistani national, whom police believe can shed some light into the Bangkok bombing incidents," the New Straits Times of Malaysia quoted him as saying.

Suspects in custody

Somyot also addressed details regarding two suspects already in custody, a 40-year-old woman brought for questioning after a police search of an apartment near the Thai Chamber of Commerce University on Monday, and Adem Karadag, 28, who was arrested at the Pool Anant apartments in Nong Chok district on Aug 29.

Pol Gen Somyot said the female suspect told police investigators she had hailed a taxi for a man in a blue shirt believed to be the Sathorn bomber. The information has yet to be verified and further investigation was needed, he said.

As for Mr Karadag, also known as Bilal Mohammed, Pol Gen Somyot said police also did not believe comments from his lawyer, Chuchart Kanpha, that the suspect in custody at the 11th Military Circle was not involved in the bomb plots.

The lawyer said his client was a Turkish national who entered Thailand illegally, but nothing more. He said Tuesday that he went to the prison on Nakhon Chaisi Road. Before he did, the lawyer insisted his client went to Vietnam in April where he obtained a fake passport under the name of Adem Karadag. 

He then stayed in Laos for 35 days before a broker named Abdulloh brought him to Thailand on Aug 21, Mr Chuchart said.


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