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Thai Police say marked Bangkok map seized from terror suspects

SHARE Thai Police say marked Bangkok map seized from terror suspects

BANGKOK, Thailand — Authorities confiscated a Bangkok tourist map with circled targets from three Thai Muslims arrested in an alleged plot to attack foreign embassies and U.S. interests in Thailand, police said Wednesday.

Police also announced they are seeking another Thai Muslim suspected of being part of the alleged plot.

The three in custody are suspected members of Jemaah Islamiyah, the Southeast Asian terrorist group accused of carrying out the deadly Oct. 12 bombing on the island of Bali, said Maj. Gen. Suwat Tumrongsisakul, assistant commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau.

Police arrested the three on Tuesday, hours before Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was in the United States meeting with President Bush. Previously, the prime minister rejected claims that Muslim extremists were operating in the mainly Buddhist kingdom.

Thaksin Shinawatra told Bush that he would introduce new anti-terrorism laws.

"Thailand has its own problems with terrorism, and they are facing up to them," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. "We want to work together with them on it."

Authorities in Thailand declined to specify the circled targets on the map or other details about the alleged plot.

Police arrested the three in the southern province of Narathiwat on subversion charges — punishable by life in prison.

Their capture resulted from the May 16 arrest in Bangkok of a man from Singapore, Arifin bin Ali, who police alleged was part of the bombing plot, the Singapore government and Thai officials said. Thailand handed over Arifin to Singapore police on May 17.

The government of Singapore had said Tuesday that Arifin's interrogation revealed that the alleged cell members planned to bomb five diplomatic posts in Bangkok, including the Singapore mission.

Other Thai police officials also confirmed it Wednesday.

Two of the arrested Thais "admitted that they met with the Singaporean man ... they said they met and laid out plans," said Lt. Gen. Chumphon Manmai, the commander of the Special Branch police. He said the third suspect refused to talk.

"The plans were to plant bombs at embassies and U.S. interests in Thailand. They did talk about where, when and how, but they didn't reach the point of carrying out the plans," Chumphon told The Associated Press.

The three men were flown Wednesday from southern Thailand to Bangkok for interrogation by the national police.

While little is known about the three men, the Singapore government has given extensive details about Arifin.

It said Arifin, 42, was an instructor in Jemaah Islamiyah's military training and security unit. He studied weapons and explosives at a camp run in the southern Philippines by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, an Islamic separatist group, the statement said.

It said Arifin fled to Malaysia in December 2001 when Singapore began a crackdown on Jemaah Islamiyah that led to the arrest of 31 suspected terrorists in the city-state.

Jemaah Islamiya, a Southeast Asian network linked to al-Qaida, is blamed for last year's bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali, in which 202 people were killed, mainly foreigners.