BANGKOK — Thai police chief Somyot Pumpanmuang said yesterday he believes the deadly bombing that killed 20 people in Bangkok on Monday night was not a work of a foreign terrorist organization.
“I can assure you that this is not terrorism or transnational terrorism,” Pol.Gen. Somyot told reporters. “Because usually, a group or a movement will immediately claim responsibility after the attack, and state their manifesto. The attacks are sometimes related to ideological conflict, and fanatical religious beliefs.”
In many instances attacks directed by groups such as ISIS or Al Qaeda have been quickly taken credit for through the sophisticated communications channels they maintain.
Analysts have also said Monday’s attack does not fit the modus operandi of Thailand’s southern insurgency or cyclical, internecine political conflict.
Nevertheless, Police Gen.Somyot added that he did not discount the possibility that the perpetrator or perpetrators of Monday’s bombing were foreigners.
“It is not terrorism but the perpetrators may be foreigners,” Pol.Gen. Somyot said. “Our intelligence agencies have names of all terrorist groups. If they surface anywhere, we would issue warnings. We are constantly monitoring their movements all the time.”
He also said, “I believe the perpetrators are still in Thailand.”
Among other possibilities, that leaves the chance it was carried out by a lone wolf attacker, possibly inspired by the radical rhetoric of such groups, staging a one-off attack.
ISIS, which emerged from the Syrian civil war to declare a caliphate in June 2014 and gain control of large swaths of Syria and Iraq, has called for and inspired many such attacks from the United States and Europe to the Middle East.
Beginning in late 2014, ISIS began calling for attacks around the world. Such lone-wolf attacks often employ low tech means to inflict damage and spread fear.
In places such as Ottawa, Canada; Dallas, Texas; Paris, France, individuals or small groups have launched deadly attacks they later said were inspired by ISIS’ calls to action.
But there’s been little such activity in East Asia, beyond arrests of suspected ISIS recruiters in Malaysia this past April.
Speculation on the lead suspect in the attack, seen leaving a backpack in the Erawan Shrine minutes before the blast, has centered on whether he is a foreigner and his movements around Bangkok.