Just before 7pm last night, ASTV Manager had an article about a clip posted on YouTube entitled “Al-Qaeda video against former Thailand Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.” The clip is about 2:45 long and was posted on July 26 (Thaksin’s birthday). Below is a screenshot from the clip:
The Bangkok Post:
The 2-minute, 45-second video is entitled “Al-Qaeda video against former Thailand Prime Minister”.
It showed three men in Arab-type clothing, one armed with either a rifle or a replica, with the “leader” reading a death threat.
The third man held a photo of Thaksin.
There was no other context provided in the video. The first upload to YouTube was removed after a few hours with the notice: “This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube’s policy on violence”.
It appeared again from a different uploader several hours after that.
The Bangkok Post on its contents:
The English language commentary included threats to kill Thaksin, “to avenge the killing of Muslims in the South in 2004“. …
“We will get you any time, anywhere in the world,” said the threat.
She self-proclaimed militant denounced policies toward the Southern region conducted by the government of Mr. Thaksin′s sister, Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra. He warned that Mr. Thaksin′s time is over, and that Al-Qaeda′s “Dead Squads” would always hunt him.
“We will try to assassinate you at any time and any place. You will no longer be safe in any corner of this world,” the man promised.
BP: This is a clear threat directed against Thaksin, but by who?
Lt.Gen. Paradorn Pattanatabutr, secretary-general of the National Security Council, told Khaosod that the “amateurish” video is clearly not a work of Al-Qaeda or any other Islamist organization.
“The people who made this clip are no other than the same group who want to overthrow Mr. Thaksin,” Lt.Gen. Paradorn declared.
Asked if the Thai government would have to clarify details about the videoclip with Malaysian government – who is mediating a ceasefire between the Thai security forces and the insurgents – Lt.Gen. Paradorn said the Malaysian government is well aware that the troubles in Southern Thailand are not related to Al-Qaeda.
“They are also aware that right now there is anti-democracy movement campaigning against the government,” Lt.Gen. Paradorn said tartly.
Isra News reports that Thai security agencies viewed the clip was not a doctored clip and the poster uses the username ‘mansoor ahmed volvo’. There is a person named Mansoor Ahmed, who is Volvo’s Senior Vice President, Volvo Group Asia Pacific.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Volvo has since contacted Asian Correspondent to clarify that Mr Mansoor Ahmed, Senior Vice President, Volvo Group Asia Pacific or Volvo are in no way connected to the YouTube video in question.]
“Volvo” is the name used by anti-UMNO groups in Malaysia. When looking at the Facebook post of a person sharing the same name [Mansoor Ahmed?] of the poster of the clip, they have made very strong critical posts of the Malaysian government.
BP: Should note that the Mansoor Ahmed at Volvo is actually an Indian who previously worked for Volvo in India and China and has only been in Malaysia since August 2011 – see here and here. Also, “mansoor ahmed volvo” has a Google Plus account (which started sharing the clip at 2:36 a.m. on Saturday) and clicking on his 16 friends, most of them are from Peshawar and other places in Islamabad. Now, how many Indians who work around the world in a senior corporate position have social media accounts with their only friends being from Pakistan? You can also find his YouTube account and you can see that most of his comments have been on videos related to Pakistan and Peshawar in particular. He may just been the sharer of the video which circulated elsewhere online.
BP’s summarized translation of the Isra News article continues:
However, the same security source said that there are still some questions regarding the clip, particularly on how many people are in the clips for sure. In one clip, there is someone with their face showing, but in the other they are covered. Also, is the gun real? Also, from Thai security sources throughout they confirm that Al Qaeda has never been interested in the problems in the southern border provinces or unsatisfied with Thaksin at all.
“Initially, security agencies estimate that it is a result of politics in Malaysia as the former PM [Thaksin] has clearly expressed support for Najib which has caused those support Anwar to not be satisfied. In addition, there may be some groups who do not agree with the peace talks that the Thai government is proceeding to talk with the BRN with the Malaysia government being the mediator”.
Academics who specialize about Islam from a well-known academic institute said there were 3 points in the clips:
1. The Kru Se incident that those in the clip referred to happened almost 10 years ago and so why so not just declare hunting at this stage.
2. Normally, Al Qaeda are not interested in local areas but are more interested in attacking the interests of America. Now, at the local level, is the issue of the Rohingya in Myanmar a bigger and more interesting issue because of the severe human rights violations?
3. If there was an issue of revenge over Kru Se, Al Qaeda should not be interested in just pursuing Thaksin, but should be more interested in going after the Thai or Siam government the same as BRN
In the past, international terrorist groups have been interested in local problems, such as the Taliban declaring to help the Rohingya in Myanmar, but this was an announcement through their official media outlet and not just a threatening clip like this one. There are also many Al Qaeda groups throughout the word and they don’t just call themselves Al Qaeda [on its own].
The academic stated that, for his personal opinion, he gave more weight to political problems in Malaysia which Thaksin has been involved with and there may be some Muslims from the southern border provinces involved too.
BP: The clip is likely real in the sense that someone has not altered a previous Al Qaeda video and just inserted Thaksin’s picture and dubbed over the rest, but is the clip really from Al Qaeda? BP doesn’t think so for the reasons outlined in the Khao Sod and Isra News articles above. Why also release on Thaksin’s birthday and why not wait until the 10th anniversary of Kru Se?