STOCKHOLM (AP) – A Lebanese-Swedish man detained in a terror probe in Thailand has told a Swedish newspaper that he’s innocent and blamed Israel’s Mossad spy agency for his arrest.
The tabloid Aftonbladet on Friday said it spoke to 47-year-old Atris Hussein in a Bangkok prison where he’s being held on allegations of illegally possessing explosive materials.
Hussein was quoted as saying he is “100 percent innocent” and that “much of the material the police found in my warehouse had been placed there, probably by the Israeli security service Mossad.”
Thai police seized more than 8,800 pounds (4,000 kilograms) of urea fertilizer and several gallons of liquid ammonium nitrate at the warehouse in Samut Sakhon, on the western outskirts of Thai capital Bangkok, according to police and media reports.
Police have said Hussein was storing the explosive materials in Bangkok before shipping them to another destination.
His arrest last week was linked to United States and Israeli warnings of a possible terror threat in Bangkok, coming during heightened tension over U.S. and Israeli responses to the prospect that Iran is moving ahead with its nuclear program.
Thai authorities were caught off-guard by the U.S. announcement, hastily revealing they had detained a Swedish national of Lebanese origin with alleged links to pro-Iranian Hezbollah militants.
Hussein told Aftonbladet that one evening he was taken from the Thai prison to a house where he was interrogated by three men “who obviously were from Mossad.” He didn’t specify why he thought so.
Asked why the Israeli agency would be going after him, he said: “I am a Shia Muslim but I don’t belong to Hezbollah. But I live in an area outside Beirut where they are strong.
“I also have sympathies on the left and voted for the (left-leaning) Social Democrats when I lived in Sweden. Maybe that made me look suspicious in the Mossad’s eyes.”
Hussein said he moved to Sweden in 1989 and became a Swedish citizen five years later. He said he worked in the country as a hairdresser before moving back to Lebanon in 2005.
He told the newspaper he is involved in a business exporting a variety of goods from Thailand to other countries, including Lebanon. The products include fans, copy machine paper and frozen gel packs used for pain relief, he said.
“There is ammonium in these packs. That’s all there is to it. We never traded with fertilizer. It must have been placed there by someone, probably Mossad,” Hussein said.