Internet Anthropologist Think Tank: Thailand's Insurgency connected to Al Qaeda

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    Monday, June 11, 2007

    Thailand's Insurgency connected to Al Qaeda

    After three years of insurgency that has left some 2,200 people dead, militants have dramatically increased the tempo of attacks in 2007. The insurgents are clearly buoyed by their own successes, as well as the lackluster performance of the Thai security services. Moreover, the attacks this year have been far more provocative in various ways. At the political level, there have been three attacks on the Thai royal family or their entourage. At a more local level, beheadings, machete attacks and desecration of corpses have become more frequent. There have been 10 beheadings in 2007, one-third of the total number. Nearly as many people have been killed by machete attacks or have been bludgeoned to death. In dozens of cases, the bodies have been set on fire, and in one instance a female victim was burnt alive.

    Targeting has also been more brutal—women, children and monks, people who would never have been targeted in earlier iterations of the Thai insurgency, are now systematically gunned down. In a shocking case that occurred in mid-March and was reminiscent of the carnage of Algeria or Kashmir, a minivan was disabled by an IED and all 10 passengers, including three women and a girl, were shot execution style (Terrorism Focus, April 24). IEDs have also grown in size and complexity. 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 (Bernama, May 28). 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....

    ...Videos of beheadings in the Middle East have been recovered in insurgent safe-houses and training camps....

    ....Numerous people were hacked to death with machetes, an ordeal that was captured on video by an al-Qaeda documentary filmmaker whose videos are readily available in Malaysia and Southern Thailand....

    ....Alleging that militants are being trained in Malaysia, there is little evidence to prove that this is indeed the case. The militants enjoy logistical and rear-services support in Malaysia's Kelantan Province, and Malaysian authorities have made several crucial arrests of Thai insurgents (Terrorism Monitor, March 15). It is probable that Indonesia holds the most responsibility for militant training activity.

    The veteran Middle East journalist Amir Taheri wrote in a March 2006 article in Asharq al-Awsat that "international jihadist circles" on the internet and across the Muslim world were discussing the possibility of waging a broader jihad in southern Thailand. He stated, "The buzz in Islamist circles is that well-funded jihadist organizations may be preparing a takeover bid for the southern Thailand insurgency." There exists a potential for bleed-out from Iraq. As the Thai insurgency drags on (and it shows no signs of slowing), its profile will be raised in the consciousness of Muslims around the world, and it may attract more attention and funding.

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