Ten Syrian militants from the Islamic State entered the Kingdom of Thailand between October 15 and 31 to target Russian interests, according to information provided by Moscow’s Federal Security Service (FSB).
On Friday, Thai police said that Moscow’s top intelligence agency contacted them with a warning that 10 ISIS militants had entered the kingdom with the specific intent of targeting Russians, who frequently travel to Thailand during the Christmas and New Year holidays.
A leaked letter, marked “secret” and “urgent” and signed by the deputy head of Thailand’s special branch, was circulated on local media late Thursday and named the points of entry of the militants.
“They travelled separately. Four went to Pattaya, two to Phuket, two to Bangkok and the other two to (an) unknown location,” the letter said. These are favorite vacation spots for Russians and Phuket and Pattaya have established Russian communities.
“Their purpose is to create bad incidents to affect Russians and Russia’s alliance with Thailand,” the letter said.
A deputy spokesman for the Thai police said “the letter is real” while noting that the information contained in the letter still needs to be verified.
“So far it’s only intelligence news that still needs to be proved… we have no proof if they are here for real or not,” said the spokesman, Songpol Wattanachai.
“Please be confident— we won’t disregard the intelligence,” he said.
According to reports early Friday, in fact, Thailand has already taken steps to heighten security at embassies and important tourist destinations.
Islamic State has threatened Russia with terrorist attacks ever since it began airstrikes against ISIS fighters in Syria.
The Islamic State took credit for bringing down a Russian passenger jet that crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on October 31, killing 224 people.
“Prove that we didn’t bring it down, and how it came down. We will detail how it came down at the time of our choosing,” the group said in an audio statement posted online.
Western intelligence considers ISIS leader Abu Osama al-Masri the prime suspect behind the attack.
Last month, the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS) released a graphic video promising attacks in Russia “soon, very soon,” while threatening to make their wives concubines and their children ISIS slaves. The video came not long after Russia stepped up its military incursions in Syria.
The five-minute video runs gruesome footage of decapitations and Russian soldiers as an eerie chant of male voices is heard in the background. Subtitles of the chant’s lyrics have been posted, which declare that “the lions of Ummah have awoken” and soon Russian blood “will spill like an ocean.”
“We came to you with slaughter, defying death. In your gun barrel we have seen paradise,” the subtitles read. “Europe is shaking, Russia is dying. The Kremlin will be ours,” they chant.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome