Monday, August 6, 2007

Islamic Militants Now Active in 5 southern Thai Provinces

Crossfire War -

By Willard Payne

Crossfire War - PATTANI - KUALA LUMPUR - TEHRAN WATCH - Southeast Asia Theatre: Pattani - Tehran - Riyadh - Jakarta/Satun - Bangkok - Singapore - Washington; 193 Persons Killed in South Thailand During First Five Months of The Year - Islamic Militants Now Active in Five Southern Provinces Instead of Three - Killings on Daily Basis

Night Watch: PATTANI - Attempts by Islamic groups to re-establish the independent Islamic state of Pattani have been well under way for the entire year. The area, in what is now Thailand's southern most provinces along Malaysia's northern border were indeed an independent Islamic state until the late nineteenth century when the Buddhist monarchy conquered the territory. That is why south Thailand has always been an alienated state within Thailand, never having much contact with Bangkok. Xinhua reports, according to Thailand Public Health Minister Mongkol Na Songkhla in the first five months of the year 193 persons have been killed by Islamic militants in the five south provinces and 1,056 wounded. The information was provided by 47 hospitals in the provinces. No figures have been released on the death toll since May but the killings now occur on an almost daily basis. [XINHUA]

An Islamic rebellion did take place during the 1970s but ended the following decade and without nearly the death toll taking place now. This latest eruption began in January 2004 with a raid on two Thai army bases in which weapons were stolen and since then in excess of 5,000 people must have been killed so far. In late 2004, reported Bangkok claimed it had photographic evidence there were Islamic militant training camps in Malaysia, Kelantan province on Thailand's border. Kuala Lumpur reacted in shock to the accusations from Bangkok which is why I suspect support for the Islamic militants in Malaysia has been done independently from the central government but with its tacit approval. The militants are obviously part of the Southeast Asian network established by Tehran while at the same time Iran puts on an elaborate diplomatic show of support for Thailand.

Five years ago, Iran's then President Mohammad Khatami visited Kuala Lumpur with a 91-member delegation, even Malaysia's King wanted to be seen with him. Malaysia has eight or nine Sultans and they all live lavishly and are by no means Islamic fundamentalists but the have always liked the idea of more and more of the population being caught in those beliefs. Beliefs that inspire hatred of anyone or society not Islamic. While Khatami was there, he stated Islam should have more say in world affairs. I suspect when the dry season begins in September Bangkok will issue an ultimatum to Kuala Lumpur threatening to destroy the Islamic training camps. Washington established an intelligence listening post in the area three years ago. Any information the station gathers has probably already been placed at Bangkok's disposal. It had even been reported, more than a year ago, Bangkok increased its weapons purchases from Allied governments including France, because of the war.

When the war began three years ago, it was confined to the three southernmost provinces that are Muslim majority: Narathiwat-Yala- Pattani. Last year the fighting spread north to a fourth province that is not mostly Muslim-Songkhla and this year to a fifth-Satun, which is also not Muslim majority. On February 23, quoted Thailand's Defense Minister who stated the number of Islamic militants in the country had increased tenfold. It has also been admitted by analysts the massive-established corruption in Thai society is also a major contributing element in the war. For instance Thailand has been the main center for weapons trafficking in Southeast Asia for decades and is seldom stable politically, which weakens the entire country. If the war continues to spread north, it could threaten the country's ability to function. Leaders and spokespersons for the groups involved in the attacks have threatened to extend the war into Bangkok but that has yet to materialize.

Night Watch Information Service

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