A Malaysian man has been arrested in Karachi, Pakistan on Tuesday, trying to board a Thai airways flight. He was trying to bring what appear to be four Tokarev handguns onto the plane, as well as 7.62×25 pistol ammunition. As seen in the image below, the ammunition seems to have been wrapped in some kind of plastic wrap and stuffed into gouged out holes in the man’s shoes. Authorities counted approximately 70 rounds and eight magazines.
He attempted to smuggle all of this in his luggage and shoes, and became nervous when Pakistani authorities asked him to remove his shoes at the airport.
The Bangkok Post has reported that the man may have had ties to the Islamic State (IS), though it is unsure as to what his intentions were or even where he meant to go. His tickets reportedly took him to Bangkok, but only for a layover, as a means of transit to Malaysia. He was departing out of Jinnah International Airport, Pakistan’s busiest international airport when he was apprehended by Pakistani authorities.
Local Thai news outlets have stated that the man was not targeting Thailand, rather, he was using Thai Airways as a means to get to Malaysia. While it could be that Thai authorities would rather not have the negative tourist publicity of possible hijackings and terror attacks targeting them, it does seem unlikely that someone would buy connecting flights if his target was the halfway point. There are no direct flights from Karachi to Malaysia, most of the flights passing through Dhaka, Dubai or in this case, Bangkok. With that said, reports confirming the man’s itinerary are still emerging.
Whether or not he was attempting to hijack the plane, if he had cohorts on the plane with him, or whether he was trying to smuggle weapons in for some reason as claimed by many authorities — all remains unknown at this point in the investigation.
The Islamic State has been trying to gain more traction in Southeast Asia in recent years, including but not limited to the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore. Malaysia has detained approximately 400 jihadists from the Islamic State in recent years, according to the Malaysian Parliament’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. Not all of these jihadists are local either, many actually originate from China.
Featured image (left) courtesy of Twitter. Right images courtesy of Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan.