By Matthew Schaller
In the era of 21st century video surveillance, where locating a dangerous suspect responsible for a barbaric act is just a keystroke away, technology should ensure accurate outcomes. However, as evidenced by the August 17th blast at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok Thailand, it could also be a devastating hindrance in solving an attack that left 20 people dead and more than 120 injured. As a result of this technological issue and numerous other logistical conundrums, police appear no closer to tracking down leads and determining a motive for the attack.
According to the Guardian, Thai police have had to trace the suspect’s movements before and after the blast by utilizing their imagination, since 75 percent of security cameras along the suspect’s getaway route were broken.
“The perpetrator was driving away escaping and there are CCTV cameras following him. Sometimes there were 20 cameras on the street but only five worked,” said Thailand’s National Police Chief Somyot Poompanmoung. What footage was captured is blurry, thus useless to investigators.
Criticism aimed at police for sending mixed signals to the press has not helped the investigation. While Mr. Poompanmoung stated that the suspect was still in the country, this was later countered by a police spokesman, Prawut Thawornsiri. Poompanmoung and the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority continue to defend police response to the bombing.
“Since the bombing, we’ve barely slept. We’re doing the best we can,” Poompanmoung said.
Since taking power in a violent coup in 2014, the military junta’s promise to bring peace and stability to a country that has experienced years of political unrest has amounted to whitewashing incidents to the public and tourists, who contribute almost a fifth of Thailand’s GDP.
According to New Republic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues constant reassurances to the public, such as, “You will be safe during your stay in Thailand and you will also experience friendliness, smiles, and kindness that we always provide.”
The haste to cover up the bombing allowed forensic teams only a few hours to collect evidence, with workers scrubbing the area the next morning.
Anthony Davis, a security analyst based in Bangkok, believes that the most likely perpetrators of the bombing are the Grey Wolves, a nationalist Turkish organization. According to Reuters, a possible motive was Thailand’s recent deportation of the Uighur ethnic group to China. The Grey Wolves were responsible for an attack on the Thai consulate in Istanbul in July.