A Conspiracy of Silence: Who is Behind the Escalating Insurgency in Southern Thailand?
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A Conspiracy of Silence: Who is Behind the Escalating Insurgency in Southern Thailand?

Zachary Abuza has a new article entiltedA Conspiracy of Silence: Who is Behind the Escalating Insurgency in Southern Thailand?.

On January 4 2004, militants conducted simultaneous raids on police and military posts across three provinces in Thailand’s Muslim majority south. The raids were well coordinated and displayed considerable planning and professionalism. Though described as the start of the new insurgency, the same type of attacks had been conducted by groups since 2001-02 on a smaller and more sporadic basis. The seizure of 300 M-16s caused the Thai government to impose martial law and deploy additional troops. The heavy-handed military response has, in turn, led to a cycle of violence. There are currently more than 20,000 troops, police and intelligence officials deployed across 10,000 square kilometers. Yet, the violence has steadily escalated. Since January 2004, roughly 700 people have been killed. Only in Iraq were more Muslims killed in 2004.

Between Tak Bai and the middle of March 2005, the number of bombings doubled. There were 48 bombings, including four double and one triple; and 12 attempted bombings.

This debate is indicative of the fact that still very little is known about who is behind the insurgency. Statements range from the Prime Minister’s assertions that they are merely “criminal gangs” to policy makers who assert that “separatists with possible links to foreign Muslim extremists” are to blame. Making things more confusing is the fact that no group has taken any responsibility for any of the attacks in 2004-2005, nor has any other organization publicly stated their goals or platform. The Patani United Liberation Organization (PULO), which was active in the 1970s and 1980s, but had disbanded by the 1990s, has taken a degree of responsibility through its web site postings warning foreigners to stay away, but few believe that PULO has revived. [1]

Based on my interviews and analysis of the range and the different styles of attacks, there are four distinct organizations, two of importance, while two others are more fringe groups. The most important groups are the Gerakan Mujahideen Islamiya Pattani (GMIP) and the outgrowth of the old Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) organizations now known as BRN Coordinate (BRN-C). The two smaller fringe groups are Jemaah Salafi and some elements of the 1990s splinter group, New PULO.

The article further goes on to talk about possible links between the groups and JI. The article got my attention because of the mention of attacks actually starting in 2001-2002 and that no group has taken responsibility (which many analysts/articles fail to mention). I can’t find anything wrong with this article. There are some very worrying aspects about the situation in the southern border provinces.

Go read the whole thing.