Leader of Bangkok blast escapes to Bangladesh before attack

Police say lead suspect of Thailand bombing fled to Bangladesh with Chinese passport

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Thai policeman stands guard as people pray at Erawan shrine, where 20 people were killed and more than 100 were injured after the August 17 attack in Bangkok, Thailand

Updated Sep 10, 2015

The suspect that Thai police is convinced was the mastermind of the Aug. 17 Bangkok bombing escaped to Bangladesh using a Chinese passport a day before the deadly attack, officials announced on Wednesday.

Yusufu Mieraili, the second and last suspect that was detained, had admitted earlier on Wednesday to giving a backpack with explosives to a man outside a train station that police believe was the shrine bomber. Mieraili confessed it was the first time that he had met the man and at the time he had no idea there was a bomb inside the backpack.

During his interrogation Mieraili also told police a man named "Izan" or “Ishan” was the one to lead and organise meetings and assign duties to his companions.

"This man called Izan - and I don't know if this is his real name - is a very important person in this network," deputy police chief Chakthip Chaijinda told Reuters.

"I don't know what his nationality is ... Let's just say Izan is one of the foremost wanted individuals."

But, although they have not confirmed this information, Thai police believe 27-year-old Abudureheman Abudusataer, from China’s Xinjiang region, is “Ishan.”

Chaijinda said they will be cooperating with their counterparts in Bangladesh, where the suspected organiser of the attack is thought to have fled on Aug. 16. An immigration officer said “Ishan” travelled as a Chinese citizen, but it is not known if the passport he used was original.

A K M Shahidul Hoque, inspector general of Bangladesh's police force, said he was not informed about the new development.

No group has claimed responsibility for the explosion at the Erawan Shrine, a location known to attract large crowds of tourists. Twenty people were killed in the blast, including 14 foreign tourists, and the incident is thought to have caused Thailand the loss of around 1,33 million tourists.

So far two suspects have been arrested. The first one taken into custody, Adem Karadağ, was carrying a Turkish passport when police raided his apartment and found he possessed bomb-making material and dozens of fake Turkish passports. Following the arrest Turkey’s Bangkok Embassy and Thai police both confirmed that the suspect was not a Turkish citizen.

The other suspect Yusufu Mieraili was captured last week by the Thai border, carrying a piece of paper with a formula on how to make a bomb as he was attempting to cross into Cambodia. He was carrying a Chinese passport, but whether the document is fake or not has not been confirmed. On Tuesday Mieraili confessed to possessing illegal explosives.

Earlier national police chief Somyot Poompunmuang had said that not all suspects of the bombing, thought to be 12 in total, knew each other, adding that they corresponded through social media and the police are tracking the conversations.

The funding for the attacks, believed to be from overseas, is also another subject of the investigation. Poompunmuang said that the Anti-Money Laundering Office was looking into the money trail but he could not provide any solid information yet.

TRTWorld and agencies