|Lebanese-Swedish Atris Hussein, center, is escorted by Thai officers upon his arrival at criminal court in Bangkok, Thailand Wednesday, March 21 , 2012. Hussein was detained for illegally possessing explosive materials. His arrest in last January was linked to U.S. and Israeli warnings of a possible terror threat in Bangkok. (AP photo/Sakchai Lalit)|
Lebanese suspect in Thailand denies terror link
BANGKOK—A man who Thai police say led them to tons of bombmaking components told reporters he is not a terrorist, then pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of illegally possessing explosive materials.
Atris Hussein, a 47-year-old Swedish citizen of Lebanese origin, is accused of possessing nearly 3,000 kilograms (6,500 pounds) of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer that can be used to make explosives.
Police say that after Hussein was arrested Jan. 12 at Bangkok's international airport, he led them to a warehouse packed with more than four tons of fertilizer and other materials that can be used to make bombs.
Thai authorities have accused Hussein of links to Hezbollah militants, but he said outside Bangkok's Criminal Court, "I'm not terrorist."
When asked if he was worried about the prosecution, he nodded and gave a weary smile.
Hussein faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
Hussein's arrest came as the U.S. and Israel warned of a terrorist threat in Bangkok against Americans and Israelis. Thai media reported at the time that the Israeli Embassy was among the targets.
Thai police say the case is unrelated to a botched bomb plot that was exposed Feb. 14 when an accidental blast rocked a residential Bangkok neighborhood. Three Iranian men have been detained in connection with that explosion, and authorities have alleged Israeli diplomats were targeted and that it was connected to an attack in India against an Israeli diplomatic vehicle.