Has Iran's wrath for Israel and the U.S. resulted in Hezbollah, allies of Tehran, dispatching a Swedish hairdresser-turned-terror agent to kill Americans and Israelis in Bangkok?
According to Hussein Atris, no. The man with at the center of this bewildering investigation is telling Sweden's Aftonbladet newspaper that Israeli's Mossad intelligence agency "set me up."
(The part about him working as a hairdresser in Gothenburg, Sweden? That's true.)
Atris is connected to a Thai police raid on a warehouse near Bangkok that turned up heaps of fertilizer and other materials that can be used to make explosives.
But Hussein contends that his recent visit to Bangkok had nothing to do with any potential Hezbollah bombing spree, which Thai and U.S. officials have suggested Hussein and other Lebanese man are involved in. The warehouse, he told Aftonbladet, stored harmless items shipped in his side import-export business.
“We bought goods in Asia and exported them to other countries, including Lebanon. It was fans, copy paper, ice packs used for pain relief," he said.
Interestingly, the private Stratfor Global Intelligence firm seems to think a guy like Hussein would be unlikely to raise hell in Bangkok.
Not because their analysts think he's just a squeaky clean hairdresser -- they too suspect he may have Hezbollah links -- but because terrorists are really fond of Bangkok.
"For example, Bangkok is a hub for acquiring counterfeit documents, which are a lucrative commodity around the world and part of Hezbollah's criminal enterprise. Conducting an attack in Bangkok would likely disrupt a node in the network and ultimately affect the group's bottom line."