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Old 05-30-2007   #21
Bill Moore
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Default He isn't the Dali Lama

Generally passive and believers in the eight fold path, the Thais, Khmer, and numerous other Buddhists have a warrior culture. The insurgents in S. Thailand are trying to provoke a Buddhist response (I mean local Buddhist citizens, not the Thai government) in order to mobilize more Muslims to join their radical movement out of fear, because they will need protection from the Buddhists. So far they have been unsuccessful with the exception of a few minor retaliatory attacks. This is similar to the strategy that the JI used semi-successfully in Indonesia a few years back. I think it is John Robb that refers to this as primary loyalties, which we’re seeing in Iraq. As long as the State remains viable and adequately provides for the people, nationalism can exist above tribalism. If the State falters, then tribes will become the primary loyalty base. That is why a ying and yang approach is required, if you’re all military action (I’ll make you tap out) you’ll facilitate their argument (their narrative) that the State is against them, and they’ll mobilize more to their side. If you don’t take sufficient military action, and you can’t create a secure environment, people will side with the insurgents unwillingly for protection. There are no easy answers to the problem in S. Thailand, but one of the keys is to keep it from escalating if at all possible. It may be too late, it is sort like a forest fire, once it gets so big it creates it own wind that drives the fire.
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Old 05-30-2007   #22
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Originally Posted by Firestaller View Post
You know that Islamic terrorism is a problem in Thailand when Buddhist monks are calling for war.
Certain politically aligned Buddhist religious orders are some of the most hardline elements on the Sinhalese right wing in Sri Lanka. A Buddhist monk assassinated the country's first PM in 1959 over concessions to the Hindu Tamils. They recently formed their own ultranationalist party. Most Japanese Buddhist Zen Masters were similar in their enthusiastic support for Japanese imperial expansion prior to 1945, complete with proclamations of holy war.

There aren't any religions with clean records that I know of. Except for maybe Scientology --- they just want to make money.
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Old 05-30-2007   #23
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Except for maybe Scientology --- they just want to make money
Didn't they win Battleground Earth?
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Old 06-12-2007   #24
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The Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor, 7 Jun 07:

The Role of Foreign Trainers in Southern Thailand's Insurgency
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The first five months of 2007 have seen a dramatic increase in both the lethality and brutality of the Thai insurgency, prompting numerous Thai military officials to suspect the growing presence of foreign trainers. The arrest of an Indonesian on May 19 further raised suspicions. Nevertheless, Thai political leaders, including former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, head of the National Reconciliation Commission Khun Anand Panyarachun and current Prime Minister General Surayud Chulanont, along with the diplomatic community, have all insisted that the insurgency is a purely domestic affair with no foreign linkages. This view is being challenged by a growing body of evidence that shows that Thai officials have begun to speak more openly about the influence of foreigners on the Thai insurgents....
...and this excerpt speaks to the subject of the first post in the thread, threat migration:
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...It took insurgents almost two years to develop IEDs larger than five kilograms. This year has already witnessed 15 and 20 kilogram devices used several times a week, causing much higher casualty rates, especially among police and soldiers. Many of the devices are similar to the one found and defused on May 28: a 20 kilogram ammonium nitrate bomb constructed in a fire extinguisher, stuffed with bolts, nuts and pieces of rebar and hidden on the side of the road awaiting an army convoy. The bomb was command detonated, but cell phone detonators are still currently used. Casio watches, which have been used routinely in Iraq, are now also regularly employed in southern Thailand....
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Old 06-15-2007   #25
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HRW, 14 Jun 07: Thailand: Education in the South Engulfed in Fear
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....Officials in Narathiwat province have been forced to close more than 300 government schools in all 13 districts this week after insurgents killed three teachers on June 11. Two gunmen walked into the library of Ban Sakoh school in Si Sakhon district around noon and shot two female teachers, Thippaporn Thassanopas, 42, and Yupha Sengwas, 26, in the head, abdomen and legs. They died instantly in front of some 100 children, who were playing in front of the library after lunch. Both teachers received warnings before they were killed.

Approximately an hour later, a male teacher was shot dead in a grocery store in Ra Ngae district. Sommai Laocharoensuk, 55, a teacher at Ban Jehke School, was hit six times by AK-47 fire in the head and body. An eyewitness said six gunmen walked into the shop and opened fire on Sommai, who was registering the names of children to be enrolled in his school.

Human Rights Watch said it believed those responsible were separatist militants because of a long pattern of similar attacks on government schools and teachers, along with continuing public threats.

“Insurgents are terrorizing teachers and schools, which they consider symbols of the Thai state,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “These attacks are grave crimes and cannot be justified by any cause.”...
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Old 06-15-2007   #26
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Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
The Thai Insurgent’s 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 isn’t having the effect they desire and it won’t if Thailand finds the right strategy. This is a situation that can become very serious if the counterinsurgent missteps.
This was discussed at length following a presentation by Peter Chalk at the June meeting of the RAND Insurgency Board. Peter's take--and he is one of the top experts on terrorism in Southeast Asia--is that the Thai insurgency has almost no "ties" (and I hestitate to use that word since we'd be talking about "Thai ties") to the wider Islamic extremist movement.
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Old 06-16-2007   #27
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Default It appears to be changing

I think Mr Chalk's would have been correct 18 or so months ago, and he still may be, but the rapid evolution of the insurgents' effectiveness without a logical explanation should prompt us to reevaluate what the ground truth is today. Unsurprisingly, there is evidence of TTP migration from the Middle East, which is at least partly (if not largely) due to the world wide web, but the rapid increase in the size of the IEDs, the effectiveness of their ambushes (from rank amatuer to professional), the brutal killings (beheadings, setting bodies on fire, etc.), etc., make me wonder how this somewhat supposedly isolated insurgent group became so capable so quickly? New leadership? More effective fund raising? or outside support/sponsorship?

One factor worth considering is that as an insurgency matures over the years, there is the possibility that diverging opinions over strategy will lead to splinters in the leadership. We could have our eye on the legacy leadership, which is focused on local issues, not a global jihad or caliphate, while simultaneously a splinter group lead by a Young Turk could have reached out to the JI, or directly to ME terrorist groups for support. Then the success of these operations will create a recruiting gravitational pull of less patient foot soldiers from the legacy insurgency to the new radical group.

It is possible that the insurgency has not reached out and remains a fight over local issues, but I would like to see some analysis explaining the insurgents rapid TTP improvement, and then explain the logistics required that must support it. Southern Thailand unlike Afghanistan and Iraq is not a field Ammo Supply Point where there is an abundance of munitions available. I would think they would have to rely largely on battlefield recovery for their weapons and explosives, but the rapid surge in attacks may indicate otherwise.

What I haven't seen or heard of yet is any propaganda released by the insurgents related to a global jihad, but it might be in their best interest to keep that link quiet for the time being.

Bottom line, I think we need to take a hard look with a fresh set of eyes, just to be on the safe side.
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Old 06-16-2007   #28
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One thing to keep in mind: given the global nature of information, it's quite possible that the Thai group advanced their operational tactics by research and an exchange of information without necessarily signing on to the main AQ goals and objectives. This sort of "brotherly training" was fairly common with terrorist groups in the 1970s and 1980s, and the internet only makes it easier. It's much easier now for information to be shared without any sort of reciprocity agreement (as in "we train your guys to make bombs in exchange for an attack or two in the future or safe houses for our guys in your territory"). Look at the way the various anti-globalization groups share information and tactics without necessarily agreeing on a uniform strategy. I'd expect that the new generation of trans-national insurgents/terrorists would adapt the same information sharing networks.

Perhaps they've been watching the outside situation and borrowed the tactics that they feel have worked there. I'm not saying you're wrong, Bill, just tossing out another set of eyes to look at the situation. Sometimes I think we get too focused on insurgents proper and forget that terrorist groups have their own modes and methods of operation. With the convergence of the two in many trans-national groups I think this only compounds the classification issue.
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Old 06-16-2007   #29
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Default I think Chalk is correct

I attended a seminar last year where we had a group of Thais (Moslem and Buddhist) looking at this issue. Credible, informed figures. All were adamant that it is a 'home grown' issue.

I have been at presentations by Abuza and Gunaratna , where they seemed to be 'spinning up' the potential links. Warning of external ties , and stating that they were suspicious of the number of JI folks that had been in Southern Thailand at various times , when pressed for proof of ties, they conceded that no physical evidence of such ties existed.

I have spoken with Malaysian security figures who, for a number of reasons, are interested in the situation. They insist the problem is a localised one.

Sidney Jones from the ICG (one of, if not the most, credible figures on JI) has expressed doubt about any operational links.

I think there is a real trap for the West (and some Americans in particular, in my experience) to default to associating any insurgents or terrorists who are Moslem in Asia with the JI / AQ nexus. We risk unnecessary conflation.

In many circumstances in SE Asia the fact that insurgents are Moslem is coincidental , rather than germane, to the reason they are rebellious. A lot of these issues are local and pre-date (in same cases, by centuries) 9/11 and / or the rise of AQ in the West's consciousness.

A real risk is that we approach these issues with our usual 'subtlety' of analysis and in doing so inadvertantly drive the development of the associations we fear. Many (if not most) of these issues are best left to the people who 'own' the problem - with our support ,if and when they ask for it. The recently reported successes of Detachment 88 in Indonesia against JI provide an excellent example of how these things can work.

A final observation - it would be naive to assume that insurgents / terrorists in the region do not learn and or get inspiration from various international organisations and web based resources. This is not the same as active partnership etc. Statements such as 'something has to account for their increasing sophistication' are equally ignorant / naive - they suggest a lack of understanding (sub-conscious racism perhaps?) that the insurgents (especially the ones that survive) are smart people who learn fast.

A closing thought. I think we need to pay closer attention sometimes to the background of some of the people spinning up these links. If one makes a living out of beating up the 'global islamic insurgency' theory (for example, through funding for your faculty, think tank, book sales, consultancies etc), it pays to associate all insurgencies being fought by Moslems with AQ, doesn't it? Never mind about the facts, just keep providing support to what people expect to hear to support their viewpoints....

Last edited by Mark O'Neill; 06-16-2007 at 03:48 AM. Reason: typos
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Old 06-16-2007   #30
Bill Moore
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Mark, your response doesn't address my request for real analysis. Personally I'm very leary of subject matter experts, because it is almost impossible for them to stay current with the rapid changes in our global society. While I respect the vast amount of knowledge they have acquired in their field of study, what happens (as Steve alludes to) is we all fall back on what we know, and if you know legacy insurgent models, you try to make everything fit that model, even you have to push that square peg into the round hole to make it make sense.

1. Thai officer who are expert on the problem? The Thai's behind closed doors readily admit they don't understand what is happening down south, and there are deeply divided opinions on the nature of the conflict the proper strategy to counter it. No one that I know of doubts it is a home grown issue, the issue is whether or not it is evolving into something bigger.

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I attended a seminar last year where we had a group of Thais (Moslem and Buddhist) looking at this issue. Credible, informed figures. All were adamant that it is a 'home grown' issue.
Two points on this one, first the Thai military admittedly doesn't understand the problem, nor is there a concensus on the strategy. If there is no concensus, then one man's opinion is just that, one's man's informed opinion. The other point is that the insurgency took off like a rocket "this" year, so the dynamics have changed. Another point, no one who is familiar with the conflict will disagree that it is a homegrown insurgency based on local issues, but the point of debate is whether or not it is evolving into part of something larger?

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I think there is a real trap for the West (and some Americans in particular, in my experience) to default to associating any insurgents or terrorists who are Moslem in Asia with the JI / AQ nexus. We risk unnecessary conflation.
I concur, but the flip side of this bit of wisdom is to bury our head in the sand if there is a link. Again, don't over react, I wrote "IF" there is a link.

3. Having spent more than a few months in Thailand and other countries in the region, I for one am not bias or racist. My comment was referring to the rapid escalation of their skills and attacks, not a natural progression. If you look at the terrorist and insurgent groups in the southern Philippines, which has been ongoing for years, and have known ties to the JI, yet have evolved their TTP very little. There are a number of factors that influence this based on culture, the nature of the fight, etc., but it still serves as a reference point for comparison. Why is the Thai insurgency taking off and the Philippine insurgency largely at steady state? What are the differences?

Quote:
A real risk is that we approach these issues with our usual 'subtlety' of analysis and in doing so inadvertantly drive the development of the associations we fear. Many (if not most) of these issues are best left to the people who 'own' the problem - with our support ,if and when they ask for it. The recently reported successes of Detachment 88 in Indonesia against JI provide an excellent example of how these things can work.
I couldn't agree more, but it would be equally ignorant to ignore a potential link, and if it exists, what does it mean if anything? Detachment 88 has had many successes, but it is too early to tell if they will have a long term impact, because the fundamental issues still remain.

I'll go back to original request. I would like to see some non-bias professional analysis done on this. I think your comments were somewhat biased towards no association, because they were not associated with any facts. Additionally, instead of addressing the questions/concerns, you attacked the messenger with descriptions of naive, racist, etc.

Steve, I concur that are current lexicon describing terrorists, insurgents, transnationals, etc. doesn't answer the mail any more. As I stated on a previous post (maybe months ago), I think our professional vocabulary prohibits our understanding of the current security environment.

I think the answers lie in a detailed analysis of the insurgent leadership, logistic systems, and training methodology. I agree that information proliferation is not necessarily The internet is not exactly wide spread in the villages in Thailand. I know Thailand is advancing, but I recall the old days (not too long ago) where there were a couple of TVs in each village on Saturday night we could gather around with the villagers, drink MeKong whisky and watch thai kick boxing. I don't think it has changed so drastically in rural areas, especially in the impoverished south that the kids have access to the internet, so I "think" the information is passed on my OJT mentors, or they are going to training camps.
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Old 06-16-2007   #31
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G'day Bill,

I have no real problem with most of what you have said. A few points-

1. The seminar I was referring to had no participation by Thai military, participants were civil leaders, moslem scholars, academics and local NGO. I would like to share more with you, but it was conducted under 'Chatham house' rules.

2. The different speed in development that you cite between Thailand and Philippines might be attributed to:

a. the bifurcated nature of the conflict in Southern Philippines - tensions between MILF / ASG , plus the influence of the 'peace process' on the region.
b. Successes by the AFP and the JSOTF, compared to the apparent lack of success to date , at any level, in Southern Thailand.

I whole heartedly agree, more sophisticated analysis is needed.

My concern remains that for many the default setting is jumping to conclusion that are not substaniated by evidence. You only need for one or two the multitude of neo-con polemicists that abound to fasten onto some of this conjecture and policy is unduly, and incorrectly, influenced.

Cheers,

Mark

Last edited by Mark O'Neill; 06-16-2007 at 12:23 PM. Reason: spelling - I am a c#@p typist
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Old 08-28-2007   #32
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Default Rights Group Documents Brutality of Insurgents in Southern Thailand

Rights Group Documents Brutality of Insurgents in Southern Thailand - Washington Post, 28 Aug.
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Separatist militants in Thailand's mostly Muslim southern provinces have stepped up a decades-long, low-intensity insurgency into a wave of brutal bomb attacks, assassinations, machete hackings and, in some cases, beheadings and mutilations in the past 3 1/2 years, an extensive Human Rights Watch report said today.

Interviews with witnesses, family members, academics, lawyers, journalists and human rights activists painted a bloody picture of the predominantly ethnic Malay provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla from January 2004 to last month.

Of the 2,463 people killed in attacks during that time, a total of 2,196, or 89 percent, have been civilians. "Violence against civilians is being used by separatist militants to scare Buddhist Thais away from these provinces, keep ethnic Malay Muslims under control and discredit the Thai authorities," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch ...
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Old 08-28-2007   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tequila
...here's the actual HRW report:

No One is Safe: Insurgent Attacks on Civilians in Thailand’s Southern Border Provinces
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....Although the militants have claimed the moral high ground for their struggle because of historical and contemporary grievances, their tactics are anything but moral—and their behavior undermines their claims to legitimacy. From January 2004 to the end of July 2007, militant attacks have resulted in more than 2,400 deaths and 4,000 injured people. Civilian casualties constitute nearly 90 percent of this total.

In addition to intentional attacks on civilians, such as assassinations of civilian officials or schoolteachers, bombings aimed at crowded markets or other civilian locations such as commercial banks, restaurants, department stores, or hotels, separatist militants have also been responsible for numerous indiscriminate attacks. In these cases, the attacker uses a means or method that does not distinguish between civilians and combatants, such as a bomb that is set off to harm security units in populated areas without regard for minimizing or avoiding civilian losses....
Full 106 page report at the link.
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Old 09-25-2007   #34
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SIPRI, 19 Sep 07: Conflict in Southern Thailand: Islamism, Violence and the State in the Patani Insurgency
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When the interface between terrorism, extreme Islamism and violent conflict is mentioned, most people would think immediately of the greater Middle East. Many security experts will also be aware of the existence of groups in Central Asia that seem to fit into the same pattern. Much less well known, however, is the case of southern Thailand, where in three provinces collectively known as Patani an escalating and brutal conflict has claimed over 2000 lives since 2004. The violence has already had important political consequences—the failure of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s government to get a grip on it was one reason for the decision by elements of the Thai military to launch a—successful—coup in September 2006. Despite the military junta’s more conciliatory approach to the insurgents in the South, however, the violence has continued to escalate.

As is so often the case, the origins and motives of the Patani insurgency defy any simple explanation. Political, social and economic tensions—some linked with the Thaksin government’s drive for economic liberalization—are certainly present, as witnessed by the fact that officials, monks and teachers as well as government security forces have been among the targets of attack. The violence in Patani also seems to reflect a resurgence of long-standing separatist sentiments and a rejection of the centralized Thai state, which motivated earlier conflict in the same region, particularly from the 1960s to the 1980s. However, on this occasion there is also clear evidence of the influence of Islamist groups and perhaps of the same type of jihadist ideologies as have motivated the choice of terrorist tactics and indiscriminate violence in other, better-known ongoing conflicts. Another parallel with the cases of Afghanistan and Iraq, among others, is that the approaches chosen by the official authorities have not always been well judged to contain the violence. The Thaksin government’s espousal of many tenets of the US-led ‘global war on terrorism’ may have helped to destabilize conditions in the Patani region in the first place, and the increasing use of local militia against the rebels seen in recent months is hardly likely to soothe inflamed religious feelings.

This paper is one of the products of a larger SIPRI research project, Conflict, Islam and the State-Nation: New Political and Security Challenges, kindly supported by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In it, Dr Neil Melvin seeks to unravel these different strands of the Patani conflict and to shed light on its dynamics. He warns that the insurgents are now gaining the upper hand and it will be hard to stop the conflict escalating still further. The case is strengthening, therefore, for the international community to intervene, over and above the expressions of concern that have already come from Thailand’s neighbours....
Complete 48 page paper at the link.
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Old 10-27-2007   #35
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ICG, 23 Oct 07: Southern Thailand: The Problem with Paramilitaries
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....Paramilitary organisations and village militias have played significant roles in policing and counter-insurgency throughout Thai history, particularly against communist and separatist guerrillas during the 1970s and 1980s. Over the last decade, these forces have taken on new roles, from controlling refugee camps on the border with Myanmar/Burma to prosecuting the “war on drugs” in 2003. But the most significant expansion has been for the suppression of separatist violence in the South.

The army has tripled the strength of the paramilitary “ranger” force (Thahan Phran) in the South since violence surged in 2004, despite its well-deserved reputation for brutality and corruption. It has made some reforms, particularly in screening recruits, since the 1980s and on the whole is a more professional force than twenty years ago, but serious problems with discipline and human rights abuses remain....
Complete 37 page paper at the link.
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Old 05-29-2008   #36
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Peter Chalk at RAND, 28 May 08:

The Malay-Muslim Insurgency in Southern Thailand: Understanding the Conflict's Evolving Dynamic
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Current unrest in the Malay-Muslim provinces of southern Thailand has captured growing national, regional, and international attention due to the heightened tempo and scale of rebel attacks, the increasingly jihadist undertone that has come to characterize insurgent actions, and the central government’s often brutal handling of the situation on the ground. Of particular note are growing concerns that the conflict is no longer purely local in nature but has been systematically hijacked by outside extremists to avail wider transnational Islamist designs in Southeast Asia.

There is (as yet) no concrete evidence to suggest that the region has been decisively transformed into a new beachhead for panregional jihadism. Although there is a definite religious element to many of the attacks that are currently being perpetrated in the three Malay provinces, it is not apparent that this has altered the essential localized and nationalistic aspect of the conflict. Equally, while it is true that the scale and sophistication of violence have increased, there is nothing to link this change in tempo to the input of punitive, absolutist external jihadist imperatives. Perhaps the clearest reason to believe that the southern Thai conflict has not metastasized into a broader jihadist struggle, however, is the fact that there has been neither a migration of violence north (much less to other parts of Southeast Asia) nor directed attacks against foreigners, tourist resort areas (such as Phuket), or overt symbols of U.S. “cultural capitalism.”
Complete 39 page paper at the link.
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Old 08-28-2008   #37
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ICG, 28 Aug 08: Thailand: Political Turmoil and the Southern Insurgency
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....Ending the violence in the Deep South requires more than a military response. Now, with the insurgents on the defensive, is a good time to take decisive steps to address the root causes of the conflict. The political deadlock in Bangkok, however, makes it unlikely that the government will be able to turn its attention to the Deep South any time soon. The longer this is put off, the harder it will become to contain, let alone resolve the conflict.

The insurgency’s lack of a declared political leadership or platform is a major obstacle in the search for a negotiated settlement. Nonetheless, there is much that the government could do unilaterally to address Malay grievances in the realms of education, justice, language, history and economy. But this requires a rethinking on the part of the predominantly Buddhist state, which needs to recognise the distinct ethnic identity of Malay Muslims and find ways of allowing them to be Thai citizens without having to compromise their cultural differences.....
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Old 06-09-2009   #38
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Default Stirring it up

The insurgency in Southern Thailand rarely gets a mention, although David Killcullen's book uses it as a case study; from the BBC News a mystery shooting, maybe by the Army: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asi...ic/8090599.stm

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Old 06-22-2009   #39
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ICG, 22 Jun 09: Recruiting Militants in Southern Thailand
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While Thai leaders are preoccupied with turmoil in Bangkok, the insurgency in the South continues to recruit young Malay Muslims, especially from private Islamic schools. These institutions are central to maintenance of Malay Muslim identity, and many students are receptive to the call to take up arms against the state. This is not a struggle in solidarity with global jihad, rather an ethno-nationalist insurgency with its own version of history aimed at reclaiming what was once the independent sultanate of Patani. Human rights abuses by the Thai government and security forces have only fuelled this secessionist fervour, and policies that centralise power in the capital have undermined a regional political solution. Changing these policies and practices is essential as the government tries to respond to the insurgents’ grievances in order to bring long-lasting peace to the region.....
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Old 07-02-2009   #40
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Re this quote from the cited ICG report:

there is much that the government could do unilaterally to address Malay grievances in the realms of education, justice, language, history and economy. But this requires a rethinking on the part of the predominantly Buddhist state, which needs to recognise the distinct ethnic identity of Malay Muslims and find ways of allowing them to be Thai citizens without having to compromise their cultural differences.....

This underscores a key problem in managing the security issues in south Thailand, a problem with analogues in the southern Philippines. In both cases a Muslim minority firmly believes that both the central government and the bulk of the populace (Buddhist in Thailand, Christian in the Philippines) hold a deeply rooted and fundamental prejudice against the Muslim minorities in their countries. Unfortunately, in both cases this perception is to a large degree accurate: the prejudice really is there, and is reflected in policies and actions. This is not a situation that any outside agency is likely to change.
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