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Old 02-18-2006   #1
Jedburgh
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Default Thailand (catch all)

Here are a couple of articles discussing migration of IED TTPs from the Middle East to South Asia:

UPI, 15 Feb: Thai Militants Learn From Iraq Insurgency
Quote:
Islamic separatists in violence-wracked southern Thailand have begun to employ weapons and tactics that appear to be imported from the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to analysts and experts.

One technique in particular, the use of a cement casing around a homemade bomb which both disguises it to look like a roadside marker and increases its lethality by creating razor sharp shards of concrete shrapnel, seems to have been imported directly from Iraq.

"That comes straight from Iraq -- or at least from the same training manuals they're using in Iraq," said Zachary Abuza, author of "Crucible of Terror" -- widely considered the definitive study of Islamic extremism in Southeast Asia. "Certainly, those kinds of tactics were never used in Thailand before."

Over the past year, the separatists have undergone "a remarkable transformation. It's unique ... I've never seen anything like it before in an insurgency," said defense analyst Jeff Moore who has written about the issue for Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre.

Moore told United Press International that during 2004 there were a half dozen raids and ambushes against Thai security forces and other targets, but in 2005, there were nearly 90. "Almost overnight they went from a gang of saboteurs and assassins to a small army. A guerilla army, but an army nonetheless," he said.

During the same time frame, Thai security forces also noted "an increasing sophistication in the construction and use" of improvised explosive devices by the insurgents, Panitan Wattanayagorn told UPI
Commentary from the Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Focus:
Quote:
Alternate Futures for Thailand's Insurgency

The Thai insurgency has formally entered its third straight year. Between January 2004 and January 2006, more than 1,200 people were killed. In January 2004, violent incidents averaged 30 per month; by December 2004, violent incidents averaged 120 per month. By June 2005, bombings averaged more than one per day. More than 300 were killed and more than 300 wounded in the six months following the introduction of the Emergency Decree in July 2005 (The Bangkok Post, October 24, 2005). In 2006 alone, 19 people have been killed, seven in one day—five of whom were policemen. The presence of over 40,000 security forces has done little to stop the insurgency.

While the majority of victims are killed in drive by shootings and assassinations, the technical capacity of the bombs has increased dramatically. Thai Muslim bomb-makers now assemble 10kg bombs composed of a variety of components, including powergel, TNT, potassium chlorate, and ammonium nitrate. The detonators have become sophisticated to the point that the government had to block all un-registered pre-paid cell phones in the three southernmost provinces. Authorities also have evidence that the militants are now experimenting with infrared devices as detonators, although they have not consistently deployed these bombs (The Nation, November 29, 2005). The Thai militants are also learning techniques from abroad. According to a senior intelligence official, "They have stolen cement kilometer road markers to make bombs, for which we have seen instructions posted on some web sites in the Middle East" (Reuters, October 6, 2005).
...and here's some additional background on the insurgency:

There is a decent discussion of the issue on the Counterterrorism Blog of 10 Jan 06.

ICG, May 05: Southern Thailand: Insurgency, Not Jihad

Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Dec 04:
Trouble in Thailand's Muslim South: Separatism, Not Global Terrorism

Edit: When I reviewed this post after posting the follow-up below, I discovered that 3 out of 5 links no longer led to the intended article. All of'em are fixed, although the UPI article was no longer available through the original source, thanks to a blogger it is still on-line in its entirety.

Last edited by Jedburgh; 09-10-2006 at 11:06 PM.
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Old 09-10-2006   #2
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Jamestown Foundation, 8 Sep 06: A Breakdown of Southern Thailand's Insurgent Groups
Quote:
Thailand has faced an Islamist secessionist movement since 2001-2002 that has led to the deaths of more than 1,500 people. There have been nearly 400 successful bombings, many more attempted bombings and more than 400 arson attacks. Militants have assassinated more than 600 people. Ten of the 33 districts in the deep south are "plagued by violence" according to the Thai Ministry of the Interior, and the number is increasing. Yet, little is actually known about the insurgents' structure and capacity. To date, there has not been a single credible claim of responsibility, nor have the insurgents publicly stated their goals or political platform. Their unwillingness to disclose any details has worked to their advantage and left Thai intelligence in a quandary. There are a number of insurgent groups working together, and unlike the insurgency in the 1960s to the early-1990s, when groups were sharply divided over their goals and ideology and proved absolutely incapable of working together, today's organizations share a common Islamist agenda and are demonstrating unprecedented coordination and cooperation. No organization is trying to discredit another to build up its own power base...

The Pattani United Liberation Organization (PULO)

Barisan Revolusi Nasional-Koordinasi

Gerakan Mujahideen Islami Pattani (GMIP)

The Runda Kumpulan Kecil (RKK)

New PULO

Jemaah Salafi

...The preceding groups are responsible for the continuing insurgency in southern Thailand. The past few months have seen repeated coordinated bombing campaigns by these insurgents, such as an operation in June that involved more than 70 bombs, an operation on August 1 and the most recent operation on August 31 that targeted at least 20 commercial banks in Yala province. Coordination between the groups will continue to evolve as they pursue their shared Islamist agenda.
(group backgrounds at the link)
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Old 09-24-2006   #3
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Default Thais Change Tack on Islamists

25 September London Times / The Australian - Thais Change Tack on Islamists by Michael Sheridan.

Quote:
The Royal Thai Army will adopt new tactics against a militant Islamic uprising, following the coup that sent Thaksin Shinawatra, the ousted prime minister, into exile in London last week.

According to sources briefed by the army high command, Mr Thaksin's bungled response to the insurgency in southern Thailand, which has claimed 1700 lives in two years, was a critical factor in the generals' decision to get rid of him.

Military intelligence officers intend to negotiate with separatists and to use psychological warfare to isolate the most violent extremists, in contrast to Mr Thaksin's heavy-handed methods and harsh rhetoric...
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Old 12-31-2006   #4
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Default Bangkok explosions leave two dead

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6221177.stm

"A series of small explosions has left two people dead and at least 20 injured in the Thai capital, Bangkok.
At least six blasts at widely-scattered places occurred within an hour or so as streets were filling up with people ahead of New Year's Eve celebrations.

Our Bangkok correspondent says many Thais suspect the bombs were the work of opponents of the current military government, which forced Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra from office in September."

I hope the assessment by some of the locals that this is the work of opponents to the current government is correct. If it is related to the insurgency in Southern Thailand it would be a significant escalation and expansion of the conflict.
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Old 12-31-2006   #5
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Default Good Timing...

... the post that is, not the bombings. I was just reading this post at the Counterterrorism blog by Zachary Abuza:

Quote:
...The low profile targets at first led me and other analysts that I spoke with to discount the involvement of Muslim militants from the deep south. While I have long argued that they have never taken the option of targeting Bangkok off the table, nor are they ideologically against it, at the time they really donít need to change their strategy. At this point the insurgents are winning (they certainly are not losing). What the attack seemed to reflect was ongoing elite strife over the 19 September coup. There have been several bombings in Bangkok in the past few years, but all have been linked to elite conflicts, not the insurgency. The higher profile bombing of the Siam Paragon Ė which this author was in shopping with his children a few hours before the blast Ė might mean something altogether. Then again, it could be the police or other forces disgruntled with the militaryís takeover and simply be an attempt to discredit and destabilize the regime. The police are wildly unhappy about the reforms that the military is going to soon force on the police. Yet one of the bombs was placed at a small police kiosk wounding several police officers.

Officials from former Prime Minister Thaksinís Thai Rak Thai party have denied any involvement in the blasts. But unnamed sources from the Council on National Security told The Nation newspaper that the CNS was considering seizing Thaksinís assets so that he could no longer destabilize the country.

The southern insurgents clearly have the technical capacity to execute large-scale bombings in Bangkok. They detonate on a daily basis far more powerful bombs than what went off in Bangkok. Yet, to carry out so many bombings would require an infrastructure in Bangkok that few would consider them to have, The bombs were also not like the ones usually employed by southern insurgents, in terms of composition or detonation device...
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Old 12-31-2006   #6
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Default Needs to be watched

SWJED you beat me to it, I just got off the CT Blog. The smoke hasn't cleared yet, so everything falls in the category of speculation, but as this investigation unfolds it definitely needs to be followed. If the police did this it would explain the infrastructure, but Thai police (although they can be rough) aren't in the habit of killing incident Thai civilians. If they did escalate their rift with the Army to this extent, then we have serious security concerns in the Kingdom. If it was the separatists from the South, then it was obviously a warning shot in hopes of getting concessions, or provoking the Thai government into over reacting so they can garner more political support. Numerous third options also exist, but Zachary Abuza is a noted expert on the region, I look forward to his next post and analysis.
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Old 02-01-2007   #7
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The Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor, 1 Feb 07:

2007 Marks the Key Year in Thailand's Southern Insurgency
Quote:
January 4, 2007 marked the third anniversary of the outbreak of the current phase of Thailand's insurgency in the southern provinces of Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani. To date, the insurgency has claimed more than 1,900 lives. Many hoped that by this point the adoption of a more conciliatory tone by the government of Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, which was installed after the army-led coup of September 19, 2006, and changes in government policy would have stemmed the violence. In fact, the opposite has occurred, with assassinations, bombings and arson attacks dramatically increasing post-coup. In Narathiwat, during the weekend of January 13-14, for instance, two bombs wrecked a railway line, a soldier was killed and five others seriously injured in a roadside IED attack and a government official and ice cream vendor were gunned down. In Pattani, a police officer was shot and killed. In Yala, the heart of the insurgency, a fireman and another man were shot dead in separate incidents, while insurgents beheaded a Thai Buddhist and his wife, leaving a note which read: "As long as you don't leave our country Pattani, we will kill all of you crazy Buddhists"...
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Old 02-20-2007   #8
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Default The Jihad in Indochina

The Jihad in Indochina - The Belmont Club.

Quote:
A little background research on the insurgency in Thailand's south turned up the little-known fact that it is Southeast Asia's deadliest insurgency. About 1,200 people have been killed in connection with it in the last decade but fully one thousand of those have been since 2004. Like most insurgencies, it has its roots in history; in disputes between the Kingdom of Siam and its Malay neighbor states to the south. It was exacerbated by colonial politics. Even World War 2 played a role when the Muslim Malays of the south requested British help against Bangkok, which had allied itself with imperial Japan.

But things got stirred up again under the impetus of the worldwide Jihadi resurgence in conjunction with an apparent Thai mismanagement of the insurgency. Strongarm tactics were substituted for intelligence gathering, possibly because police preoccupation with corruption undermined any efficiency. In the meantime, a new jihadi cadre began forming in the madrasas of Pakistan. Media reports following up the involvement of Britons of Pakistani origin in the London bombings uncovered the fact that nearly a thousand Muslim of Thai nationality (Patani) were studying in madrasas in Pakistan...
Much more at the link...
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Old 03-17-2007   #9
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ICG, 15 Mar 07: Southern Thailand: The Impact of the Coup
Quote:
The September 2006 coup in Thailand, despite its damage to democratic development, opened the way for improved management of the conflict in the Muslim South. Prime Minister Surayud Chulanontís interim government has overhauled some of its predecessorís worst policies and signalled willingness to address longstanding grievances. But verbal commitments in Bangkok have been difficult to translate into changes on the ground, and relations between security forces and local communities continue to be strained while violence mounts. Thais outside the South have exerted pressure for a return to heavy-handed crackdowns on suspected militants. The government must respond to the escalating attacks, but with care Ė widespread arbitrary arrests and civilian casualties would only increase support for insurgents....
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Old 03-17-2007   #10
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Default Caution in the land of Smiles

The Thai Insurgentís primary tactical line of operation at this time is terrorism, and since the insurgents are Muslim many quickly want to categorize them as part of the Global Jihad Movement. While there are definitely indications that transnational terrorists are taking an interest in the conflict, it is still by and large a regional insurgency, and the strategy of counterinsurgent should focus on keeping it that way by focusing on a political solution that addresses the specific grievances of the insurgents (destroy their battle cry by taking their cause away). Thailand its allies must avoid rhetoric stating that facilitates pushing the insurgents into the Al Qaeda Network camp, because that type of rhetoric can be turned into propaganda by the transnationals that the West is expanding its war on Islam into SE Asia, which will give the insurgents common cause with the Al Qaeda Network. We already see this rhetoric coming from the AQN, but it isnít having the effect they desire and it wonít if Thailand finds the right strategy. This is a situation that can become very serious if the counterinsurgent missteps.
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Old 03-17-2007   #11
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Default Thai terrorist political objectives

Bill, I am not sure what their objectives are.

They have killed a lot of school teachers and Buddhist. They may have an agenda beyond hatred for education and a desire of Muslim apartheid, but I have not seen them articulate it. I have seen indications that many are based across the border in Malaysia. I have a vague recollection that they may have had ties to Hambali before he was captured which would put them pretty much in the al Qaeda camp.

I don't really see the situation as improved since the coup. If anything their genocide against Buddhist seems worse. Since my daughter and her family are in Bangkok, I have tried to follow the news of events there pretty closely. If someone in the group has evidence that the situation there has improved, that would certainly be welcomed.
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Old 03-18-2007   #12
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Default Downward Trend

Merv,

I haven't seen much on the unclassified side on Hambali's role in Thailand, other than he was allegedly planning attacks against several Thai Hotels, and maybe the APEC summit. Hambali is as evil and perhaps as good (tactically) as they come. His organization was largely responsible for a number of church bombings in Indonesia, which led to seriously bloody strife between Christians and Muslims. His goal is to create a greater pan-Islamic State that includes most of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Southern Philippines and Southern Thailand, and since he spent a fair amount of time in Malaysia isn't too far of reach to assume he "could" have contacted the insurgents in S. Thailand.

The million dollar question is do the insurgents want anything to do with the transnational movement? Most think they just want to liberate their region from Thailand, but then there rumors of rifts within the insurgent leadership, and if true does that mean there is a more radical faction vying for power?

Unfortunately the situation in Southern Thailand remains in a downward spiral, so your concern is not misplaced. For the most part (if not entirely) the insurgents have focused their attacks in the Southern Provinces. They are getting more effective (but still not anywhere near what I would call good yet). I think they're learning new TTP over the internet, because they still seem to be pretty clumsy compared to insurgents elsewhere who have had hands on training, but if you see a sudden spike in competence, then we can assume there is a reason for it, and I would suspect a training camp where foreigners are providing expert knowledge first hand.

The military wanted to implement a new strategy (more along the lines of a traditional COIN approach, where the focus is a political settlement), but I haven't seen many signs of it in the media yet. This situation deserves to be watched, and I only hope the Thai government reverses the current trends noted.
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Old 03-18-2007   #13
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They have killed a lot of school teachers and Buddhist. They may have an agenda beyond hatred for education and a desire of Muslim apartheid, but I have not seen them articulate it.

They do not have a "hatred for education" per se. The Thai education system is highly centralized, and as an ethno-religious separatist insurgency (Malay Muslims), they perceive state education as a Thai Buddhist attempt to destroy their cultural and linguistic identity through their children. Targeting of schoolteachers for this specific reason has been common in many ethnic-based separatist insurgencies, i.e. the PKK's campaign in Turkey (before the capture of Ocalan) stands out in this respect.

I have seen indications that many are based across the border in Malaysia

Funny, this is the second time tonight I'm referring to article in the 17 Feb 07 issue of The Economist:

Thailand and Malaysia: In Need of Help to Douse the Flames
Quote:
...the treatment of Thai Muslims is a sensitive subject in northern Malaysia, where the country's Islamist opposition is strong. So Mr Badawi will not want to risk providing political ammunition to his opponents.

Co-operation would be a welcome change from the two countries' frequent rows over the Thai south. Mr Thaksin used to accuse Malaysia of sheltering the militants. He was furious when, in 2005, it refused to send back around 130 Thai Muslims who had fled across the border, claiming their lives were in danger.

Since the Thai coup, there have been tensions over a security barrier that the Thai generals want to erect along the border. The Malaysians were miffed at General Surayud's claim that funds were being raised for the insurgency by extorting money from restaurants selling Thai tom yum kung soup in Malaysia....
I have a vague recollection that they may have had ties to Hambali before he was captured which would put them pretty much in the al Qaeda camp.

I highly recommend a read of the May 05 ICG report linked in the first post on the thread (Southern Thailand: Insurgency, Not Jihad), it provides an excellent overview of the conflict.
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Old 03-20-2007   #14
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Default The Thai insurgency

Zachary Abuza has a long informative post on the Thai situation at the Counterterrorism Blog:

Quote:
...

... While the justification and rationale for the coup is still debated, people across the political spectrum placed considerable hope that the Council on National Security (CNS) and the government that they installed would do a better job than the Thaksin administration in stemming the violence.

Yet, the exact opposite has been true: the daily average rate of killing has more than tripled in the past six months, from 1.6 people a day in 2006 to almost four per day. Over 400 people, roughly 19 percent of the 2,100 people killed since January 2004 have died since the coup. Attacks have become more sophisticated and coordinated. Sadly the junta leaders remain oblivious to the reality on the ground and show precious little resolve in dealing with the insurgency, they remain mired in petty political squabbles in Bangkok and blind to the reports from their field commanders.

Besides the dramatic escalation in the number of people killed, there have been six discernable trends since the coup.

...

Second, the attacks have been far more provocative, such as the attack on the minivan. The rate of beheadings has increased: 10 percent of all the beheadings have occurred in 2007, alone. In this year alone, there have already been three attacks on members of royal entourages. While insurgents have stepped up their attacks on police and soldiers, civilians, monks, women (including pregnant women), and children have been killed with appalling frequency. A week ago, insurgents opened fire on a class of 5th graders, leaving one 11-year old in a coma. The following day two female students were gunned down on their way to class. Monks have been targeted as well. These provocative attacks are meant to illicit heavy-handed government responses to further alienate the security forces from the broader Muslim community. While insuurgents have not attacked soft targets out of area, it is on the table. teams were caught in Bangkok in November 2005 and in Phuket in September 2006. It is on the table, yet, unlikely to be emplyed now as their tactics are working: they're winning.

Third, teachers and schools, those vulnerable agents of secularization and assimilation, continue to be prime targets of the insurgents. This has both eroded the social fabric of the region, while at the same time, forced the Muslim population to send their children to the private Islamic schools favored by the insurgents. Insurgents have killed Muslim teachers at government-supported Islamic schools with a mixed curriculum. On 17 March, insurgents struck an Islamic school in Songkhla, killing three boys between 12-14. While they were sending a message to the Muslim community to not send their children to government-supported schools, they were also hoping that many in the community would blame the government or Buddhist vigilantes for the attacks. Which leads to the fourth trend, more sectarian violence and ethnic cleansing. Already, 15 percent of the Buddhist community has fled the region. There have been stepped up threats and more leaflets left by insurgents to intimidate the local Buddhist population to leave.

...

While no group has taken credit for any attack, nor publicly stated their demands, this is not a bunch of nihilistic youths. This is a highly organized, though cellular, movement, with clear command and control. The Barisan Revolusi Nasional Coordinasi and the Gerakan Mujihidin Islamiyah Pattani are able to execute coordinated attacks, near simultaneously, across four provinces on a regular basis. Thai Muslim insurgents have never been more disciplined and united.

Their ideology has also never been so Islamist. The insurgents today are fundamentally different than previous generations. In addition to the broadened targeting of women, children, monks and the de facto ethnic cleansing that has transpired, the Islamist agenda is manifest in other ways. They are not out to win hearts and minds: they are thuggish, brutal, and imposing their values on the community. Over 50 percent of their victims have been fellow Muslims....(Emphasis added.)

...
There is much more. The high number of attacks on fellow Muslims may have been the biggest surprise in this post, but it is consistent with the Taliban nature of the groups and their search for "purification" of Islam along with the religious bigotry toward people of other religions. Abuza is a political science professor at Simmons College in Boston where he teaches Southeast Asian politics.
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Old 03-20-2007   #15
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Default Sound Tactic

Terrorizing one's own is a sound insurgent tactic. The goal is to create a climate of fear and to discredit the State, and eventually create a situation where the population comes to the realization that only the insurgents can protect them, so they feel compelled to opt in with the insurgents.

The counterinsurgent could counter this if he can and will provide adequate levels of protection for the population. Obviously the insurgent isn't trying to win hearts, but rather win control over the population, and coercion works. The Thai government needs to act quickly and stop taking half steps.

I'm only speculating, but based on the tactics the insurgents are using, I don't think they have a popular base of support.
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Old 03-22-2007   #16
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HRW, Mar 07: Enforced Disappearances in Thailand’s Southern Border Provinces
Quote:
...Abuses by both the militants and the security forces have fueled a deadly cycle of violence over the past three years. The predominant militant group, the National Revolution Front-Coordinate (Barisan Revolusi Nasional-Koordinasi, BRN-C), has taken advantage of abuses by the Thai security forces to gather support for their separatist cause. On an almost daily basis, the BRN-C’s youth wing (pemuda) and guerrilla units (Runda Kumpulan Kecil or RKK) have carried out shootings, bomb attacks, arson, beheadings, and machete attacks; statistics show clearly the intensity and lethality of their attacks, as well as evidence of a disturbing trend towards more frequent attacks on civilians and civilian objects. A Human Rights Watch report on militant abuses in southern Thailand is forthcoming.

The present report focuses on the practice of the Thai security forces of “disappearing” persons suspected of being militants, or of supporting them, or of having information on separatist attacks. Under international law an enforced disappearance occurs when a person has been arrested, detained, or abducted by government officials or their agents, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of the person’s liberty or to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the person. Enforced disappearances invariably violate a number of fundamental human rights, including the right to life; the prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; the right to liberty and security of the person; and the right to a fair and public trial. “Disappearances” are particularly pernicious as they also cause untold suffering to family members and friends, who never know whether the person they care about is alive or dead....
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Old 05-27-2007   #17
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Default Thai Security Chief Vows a Tough Stand Against Muslim Separatists

27 May NY Times - Thai Security Chief Vows a Tough Stand Against Muslim Separatists by Thomas Fuller.

Quote:
Frustrated by an inability to pacify a Muslim insurgency and concerned about rising dissent toward their rule, Thailandís generals have chosen a former commando and self-described assassin as their top security adviser.

The appointment this month of the adviser, Pallop Pinmanee, a retired general notorious for his harsh tactics but admired for his survival instincts, appears to be a signal from the military-backed government that its conciliatory approach toward Muslim insurgents in southern Thailand will change.

And recent statements from General Pallop and other leaders herald a repressive turn toward dealing with political dissent as well...
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Old 05-28-2007   #18
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Default My Take

Pallop's loudly announced appointment should be considered " fair warning" to Maylasia and Indonesia which are tolerating the stringpullers and bagmen of the Thai insurgency to operate unmolested. If it continues, there will be Muslim "businessmen" and "imams" in these countries getting their throats cut. Maybe some of their political friends as well.

Thailand has a long history of bareknuckle paramilitarism and also of keeping outside groups ( Khmer Rouge) sharply circimscribed. It sounds like the generals and the King have run out of patience with their southern neighbors.
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Old 05-28-2007   #19
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Default It's not either this or that

We all understand that insurgency is both a military/security and political problem, and trying to solve the problem with either a military or political solution to the exclusion of the other is bound to fail, so I'm cautiously glad to see that Thailand appointed a warrior that will take the fight to the insurgents, but only if he shapes the fight to facilitate a political solution (as they did when they battled the communist insurgents in Thailand). The Thais basically executed their own Phoenix type program. I think that type of program is a required element in any counterinsurgency. The hardcore elements need to either captured or killed, so they can no longer influence the population.

However, I think a word of caution is in order. The Thai insurgents have divisions within their camp, some want a political settlement, while others want a Jihad. An overly strong arm approach could shift the Muslim population in Southern Thailand to support their radicals. Furthermore, a strong arm approach could internationalize the conflict if the insurgents request assistance from their global jihad brothers. This remains a delicate and very important conflict that will require a well thought out strategy involving a strong (yet mostly covert) military approach and a stronger political approach.
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Old 05-30-2007   #20
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You know that Islamic terrorism is a problem in Thailand when Buddhist monks are calling for war.
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