Thai police identified the suspect they believe to be mastermind of the Aug. 17 Bangkok blast which killed 20 people and injured more than 100 others, but say he fled the country a day before the attack.
A report by the Thai newspaper, Bangkok Post, said on Wednesday, the second suspect, Yusufu Mieraili, told investigators during his questioning that a man he knows as “Ishan” had arranged meetings to organise the blast and assigned the participants their tasks.
"From the testimony we found that Ishan is likely to be the mastermind but has already left," said the police source, without specifying his nationality or destination.
"It is likely others we've issued arrest warrants for have already fled."
The Bangkok South Criminal Court accepted on Tuesday the Metropolitan Police Bureau’s request and an arrest warrant was issued for Ishan, identified as Abudureheman Abudusataer, from China’s Xinjiang region. His alias was “Ishan” among the other detained bomb suspects.
The report said Ishan had fled Thailand on a flight from Bangkok’s international airport on Aug. 16, one day before the blast. Thai police were investigating where he fled.
The second arrested suspect, Yusufu Mieraili, also from China’s Xinjiang, said on Wednesday that he gave a backpack containing the bomb to a man wearing a yellow t-shirt at Bangkok’s main railway station on the day of the blast.
During his interrogation, Mieraili told police that he had stayed at an apartment in Bangkok’s Min Buri district, on the day of the blast, he went to an apartment in Nong Chok district where he picked up a black backpack. Then he took a taxi to Hua Lamphong railway station to meet a man with yellow t-shirt.
Mieraili said it was the first time that he had met the man, he did not know there was a bomb inside the backpack at the time.
National police spokesman Prawut Thawornsiri said Mieraili was a crucial part of the investigation. Mieraili has been charged with possessing of bomb-making materials and additional charges for involvement in the blast.
Thai police believed that not all the suspects of the bombing, thought to be 12 in total, knew each other, national police chief Somyot Poompunmuang said, adding that they communicated using social media and the police are tracking the conversations.
There has been speculations about funding which came from overseas for the attack. Somyot confirmed the Anti-Money Laundering Office was investigating the money trail but he could not confirm yet.
A Government House source reported that the Erawan Shrine blast has affected the country’s economy deeply. Thailand lost around 1,33 million tourists after the blast.