Atlas reader RV in Thailand writes:
If I sent you every story in the Thai papers of Muslim terror attacks you'd be reading nothing else. We are living in a war zone with thousands dead and thousands more maimed and crippled but the world does not seem to care and the Thai government keeps it hush-hush for fear of ruining a tourism-based economy.
Hapuseso Sadeh was 18 years old, riding her motorcycle home from school today (Saturday) when a Muslim bomb killed her instantly. Four other teenagers were injured by the roadside blast that was, according to the papers, intended for Thai soldiers (as if that makes it okay.)
The following links from John, SIO Thailand. Believe it or not, I am only posting half of what he has sent in the last couple of days.
Pattani bomb kills schoolgirl
Published: 17/03/2012, Bangkok Post
One schoolgirl was killed and four others injured, two critically, in a roadside bomb attack apparently intended for soldiers in Pattani on Saturday.
The five secondary school students were travelling home from school on three motorcycles after finishing their examinations when the home-made bomb buried near the road went off.
The incident took place on the Basaair-Nagate road at Ban Totuwor in tambon Pitumudee of Yarang district of the southern province. Hapueso Sadeh, 18, a grade 6 student at Prasanwitthaya Mullanithi school, died instantly. She was hit by shrapnel in the head, face and torso, said Pol Col Tuande Chutanant, chief of Yarang police station.
The injured victims, all from the same school, are Mariyae Sadeh, 16, the younger sister of the dead victim; Mariyae Dueramae, 16; Maseeto Salaema, 16; and Aresoh Salaema, 16. They were taken to Yarang hospital.
Police blamed separatist militants [jihadists] who wanted to incite violence without caring about whether civilians would suffer or die. The Pattani attack followed the killing earlier on Saturday of a rubber tapper in an ambush in Yala’s Raman district early Saturday morning.
Yuso Daraning, 46, was riding his motorcycle on a local road to his rubber plantation at Ban Buekunae Kuji in tambon Talo when gunmen hiding among the trees fired on him, said Pol Capt Sithiphan Suwanno, duty officer at Jakua police station. Yuso was shot and fell from his bike. The attackers then ran out toward him and shot him again several times at close range. The victim died on the spot.
4 soldiers killed,1 wounded in bomb ambush in Narathiwat while returning from security patrol last night /MCOT
Pattani explosion kills one, injures three others The Nation
PATTANI: -- A motorcycle bomb exploded in Pattani yesterday, killing one villager and wounding three others including two soldiers, though a homemade bomb found in Narathiwat on Wednesday was defused in time.
Though the Pattani bomb attack was targeted at a squad of soldiers travelling on a pickup truck, it also hit two civilians nearby and damaged two motorcycles. The wounds sustained by the three men are not serious.
The Honda Wave motorcycle, which contained the 5kilogram bomb, had recently been reported as stolen, police said, adding that the explosive had been triggered through a twoway radio.
Three previous bomb attacks had been carried out at or near the explosion site, located off Route 410 near Kahong cemetery, police added.
In Narathiwat, ordnance officials defused a homemade bomb attached to a power pole after it was detected by a squad of paramilitary rangers who were on footpatrol in Rangae district.
The bomb, consisting of 20kg of explosives mixed in with petrolsoaked fertilisers, shrapnel created from pieces of steel and housed in a cooking gas cylinder, could have hurt people in a 50metre radius, police said.
Deputy Prime Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha, who is currently on a visit to the deep South, said the government's threeyear plan to solve problems in the South was heading in the right direction and that it would be evaluated once the emergency law comes to an end in June.
He said that people affected by authorities' mistakes, crime and abuse, as well as those mistakenly killed or innocents who died in custody, were entitled to the same amount of compensation as victims of political turmoil. The issue is being sorted out by the military, the Interior Ministry and the Internal Security Operations Command, he added.
-- The Nation 2012-03-16
This is a key article because the jihadi groups are rarely mentioned by name, let alone discussed, in reporting on the South
No easy way to start a peace process in the deep South Don Pathan, The Nation
BANGKOK: -- With the backing of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the premier's older brother Thaksin, the secretary-general of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC), Thawee Sodsong, thinks he is on a roll. Over the past few months, Thawee has been working hard to kick-start a peace process in the three southernmost provinces, where the ongoing insurgency has claimed more than 5,000 lives since January 2004.
Thawee has been sending representatives to neighbouring countries to ask for their assistance in facilitating secret talks with leaders of long-standing separatist movements in southern Thailand.
One of the things Thawee will be offering is that the future SBPAC chief be locally elected. The ruling Pheu Thai Party is also exploring, again, the idea of granting the Muslim-majority South special administrative status.
On the surface, Thawee's idea of permitting the future SBPAC chief to be locally elected may sound like a good idea, as the Malay Muslims - who constitute over 80 per cent of the residents in the deep South - would be given an opportunity to elect one of their own people to a top post. But some exiled separatist leaders, as well as members of the Barisan Revolusi National-Coordinate (BRN-C), think Thawee and the Thaksin camp are trying to wash their hands of the deep South. Autonomy and decentralisation could mean political and administrative power in the deep South falling into the hands of the few Malay elites, who could very well be Bangkok's lackeys, they say.
And while a locally elected SBPAC chief would take the heat for things that go wrong, the locally hired paramilitary Rangers would inevitably become the target for insurgents' bullets and bombs, as the regular Army command pulled soldiers back to their respective regions.
Many observers warn that without a meaningful decentralisation process in place, or structural reform in such a way that would give the SBPAC real power over administrative and security matters, a locally appointed secretary-general would amount to a paper tiger.
Nevertheless, Thawee is going ahead with his plan and is preparing to take this message of peace and reconciliation to the leaders of the long-standing separatist movements living in exile.
However, a number of Thai officials who have observed the conflict for years, as well as the exiled separatist leaders, think Thawee's textbook-like approach will not work because there are too many factors that he has yet to overcome.
"Thawee thinks he can bring exiled separatist leaders to the table and cut a deal to end this conflict once and for all. It won't work because the grievances are deep-rooted in the hearts and minds of just about every single Malay Muslim of Patani," said a BRN Coordinate cadre.
Even if Thawee succeeded in getting the current crop of separatists to come on board, a new generation of militants will eventually surface to continue the armed struggle, as this past eight years have shown.
Another problem for Thawee, said another exiled leader, is that there is no unity among leaders of these separatist groups he plans to meet. Personal rivalries aside, the views of these leaders vary from wanting complete independence to willingness to settle for some form of autonomy.
John, SIO Thailand: "I keep banging the same drum. This is a failure to understand the roadmap laid out at the OIC presentation. A form of autonomy is a milestone on the way to complete independence."
Perhaps the most important factor that would hamper Thawee's peace process is the fact that none of these groups seem to have adequate control over the new generation of insurgents, locally known as juwae, operating on the ground.
Members of the BRN Coordinate, who are said to have the best working relationship with the juwae, admit that the chain of command is too fluid, and more time will be needed to consolidate command-and-control with the juwae. And without the ability to effectively influence the juwae or curb the ongoing violence, Thawee negotiating with the old guard could prove meaningless.
One of the biggest concerns for the BRN, said one of its cadre, is that some of the juwae, or young men who call themselves juwae, have been selling their services to crime syndicates and smugglers. This has made consolidation much more difficult.
For the time being, there is a truce between the Army and the Thaksin camp. No one is certain how long this truce will last, but Thawee's quest for a quick peace deal has rubbed many of the country's top brass up the wrong way. The Army chief is against autonomy, and the top brass does not like the idea of talking to the enemy unless they are the ones doing the talking.
And in spite of the fact that the Army sent one of its generals to observe the nearly defunct National Security Council's secret peace talks two years ago, the idea of backing another government agency's peace initiative is not something the top brass is willing to entertain in any meaningful way.
But with support from Thaksin and Yingluck, Thawee thinks there is nothing that is going to stop him. Separatist leaders, on the other hand, see things differently. There are just too many unresolved issues that Thawee will have to overcome, they say.
Besides the fact that Thawee is surrounded by people they don't really trust, exiled Patani Malay leaders say he is still haunted by his past deeds. Indeed, many locals still recall how, back in 2004, Thawee hunted down suspected insurgents and Islamic teachers, including a Malay-Muslim spiritual leader, Sapae-ing Basor. Thaksin had accused Sapaeing of wanting to be president of a liberated Patani.
Did Thaksin know something about the Caliphate? Was this a factor in the coup by the Muslim Army chief at the time? I suppose it's not likely, but it's an interesting element to factor into the analysis.
Today, many Thai government officials are quietly saying what the local Malays have believed all along - that the charges against Sapae-ing were fabricated. Incidentally, many of the peace-brokers are looking for the man, hoping that he could help bridge the trust gap between the state and the Malays of Patani.
The talk of autonomy or permitting a locally elected SBPAC chief may appeal to some local Malay elites but certainly not the vast majority of the voters, who, at the last general election, did not grant even one parliamentary seat to the Pheu Thai Party, which was promising special status for the region. Locals say policy-makers should concern themselves with issues like justice, equality and social mobility for the Malays, not structural reforms aimed at changing an agency's head but not much else.
Assuming that Thawee and Thaksin's camp can cut a deal with the separatist movements, there is no guarantee that the Patani Malay's historical narrative will just disappear. The emergence of a new generation of insurgents after a relatively quiet decade in the deep South is a testimony to this very point.
Police insiders say Thawee has asked Malaysia to facilitate talks with the separatist leaders. It is not the first time that top Thai officials have tried to arrange talks with the separatist leaders in a collective manner. In 2005, former Malaysian PM Dr Mahathir Mohammed facilitated a series of talks between top Thai security officials, and the outcome did not have any real impact on the conflict or Thai policy in the deep South. Separatist leaders who took part in the Langkawi peace talks say they didn't like the fact that they were being dictated to, and warn that future dealings with Thawee could very well be repetition of the so-called Langawi initiative - a peace process that didn't get anywhere.
"You can't just impose peace. Thailand has to work for it in a meaningful way," said one exiled leader.
For more reading on the insurgency in southern Thailand please visit:http://seasiaconflict.com/ -- The Nation 2012-03-15
More pieces of the puzzle here:
Deputy PM, Army Chief Inspect Counterinsurgency Progress in Deep South
BANGKOK: -- The deputy prime minister in charge of security affairs says the government has resolved to extend the emergency rule in the three southern border provinces by another three months.
He also vows to take a hard line on drugs and other threats to national security.
Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, and Deputy Prime Minister in charge of security affairs, General Yutthasak Sasiprapa, visited the Internal Security Operations Command or ISOC operation center at the Sirindhorn military camp in Pattani.
They met with relevant security agencies from the five southern border provinces to inspect the progress of counter-insurgency operations. The two top brasses went on to meet villagers in Kor Lum Subdistrict of Yarang District before returning to Bangkok.
General Yutthasak said the Army chief mentioned various hidden threats linked to the southern unrest and stressed that all agencies remain vigilant in keeping tabs on the situation. Recently, the government extended the state of emergency in the three southern border provinces for another three months.
The deputy prime minister added that the government will take a hard line on drugs and adopt every possible measure to prevent any threats. He said powerful people and local politicians who are found to be involved will be prosecuted, and the police already have some such information.-- Tan Network 2012-03-15
Malaysia seeks to extradite Bangkok blast suspect
Kuala Lumpur, March 15, 2012 (AFP) - Malaysian authorities on Thursday applied for a court order to extradite to Thailand an Iranian man suspected of involvement in an alleged bomb plot against Israeli diplomats in Bangkok.
Masoud Sedaghatzadeh was arrested at Kuala Lumpur's international airport on February 15, a day after the alleged plot was exposed by an apparently unintended blast at a Bangkok house occupied by three Iranian suspects.
He had arrived in Malaysia the night before on a flight from Thailand.
Sedaghatzadeh denied involvement in the botched Bangkok bomb case as he appeared before a Kuala Lumpur court for the extradition application.
"Why am I here? I don't have anything to do with the case," he said in Farsi, speaking to the court through an interpreter. Malaysia was acting on a Thai extradition request, said Kamal Baharin Omar, head of extraditions with the attorney-general's office.
A decision may be weeks away and the government has asked for a month delay until the next hearing, saying it was awaiting further evidence from Thai authorities backing the extradition request.
The next hearing was set for April 16. Sedaghatzadeh's lawyer, Mohamad Nashir Hussin, said the application was invalid as there was no extradition treaty between the two neighbours and the government based its request on an "old" 1911 treaty that he said was outdated.
But Kamal said the Thai request was valid.
Sedaghatzadeh is one of three Iranian men detained in a case that saw tensions spike between arch-foes Iran and Israel following earlier bomb attacks targeting Israeli embassy staff in India and Georgia.
Israel has accused Iran of orchestrating a terror campaign, a charge angrily denied by Tehran.
One of the Bangkok suspects had his legs blown off as he hurled an explosive device at police while fleeing the blast in the Thai capital.
Sedaghatzadeh has said he is a car parts dealer who came to Malaysia on business, while his lawyer said his client had visited Thailand for a "short holiday."
He was seeking transit to Iran when he was arrested, Malaysian authorities have said.
-- ©Copyright AFP 2012-03-15 | AFP News Sponsor
Jon, SIO Thailand: "The Muslim party leader and leader of the 2006 coup is now sitting as chair of the reconciliation committee (concerning last year's political violence involving the Red Shirts and the then-ruling Democratic party). Since Thai names are difficult for me, I checked Wikipedia to see if I understood correctly that this is who is the chairman when I noticed that he is also a bigamist. After the coup some tried to have him removed for breaking the laws against bigamy."
Multiple wives just 'personal' business Nation
Interior Minister Aree Wongsearaya yesterday defended Council for National Security chairman Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin against allegations that he had broken the law by having two registered wives, saying that it was a personal matter.
Aree, who like Sonthi is a Muslim, was reacting to a call made on Thursday by an anti-coup group calling itself "Phirab Khao [White Dove] 2006" for Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont to sack the junta leader for having allegedly registered two marriages.
The interior minister said it was a personal matter that should not be publicised. "They [the anti-coup group] should consider how they can restore harmony to the country rather than try to expose personal matters," he said.
Aree said he didn't know whether the Army chief had in fact registered two marriages, but added that whoever was raising the issue should desist because it was damaging rather than constructive. "This government has the objective to solve the problems of the country; why do they have to create conflict rather than harmony? If they want to criticise, let's talk about the [government's] work" he said.
Aree said Muslim men could have four wives according to tradition.
State of emergency for far South likely to be extended: Yuthasak
BANGKOK, March 8 - Deputy Prime Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapa conceded on Thursday that the latest bombing in the southern border region which left four soldiers dead may prompt the cabinet to extend the emergency decree due to worsening violence.
Gen Yuthasak commented following the detonation of a roadside bomb in Narathiwat's Rue So district which killed four soldiers last night. One member of the 12-man unit was severely wounded.
Speaking hours before a security meeting considers the possible extension of the state of emergency now in place for another three months, Gen Yuthasak described the incident as extreme violence and said he personally believed that an extension was necessary in light of such a deadly incident.
The deputy premier, who is in charge of overseeing national security matters, said that a military lapse was partly to blame.
Rather than repeating their usual routes, the general said, “soldiers on patrol should adjust their routes and timing quite often to avoid being targeted by insurgents in risky areas such as bridges and intersections."
To speed up policy implementation based on government strategies and performance evaluation, Gen Yutthasak said he would visit the region next week with army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha to see for himself any progress on policy implementation and integration among concerned agencies.
An executive decree on administrative rule in emergency situations was introduced in mid-2005 to maintain order in the restive provinces and has been extended regularly ever since.
More than 5,000 people have died since insurgency-related violence resumed in Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and parts of Songkhla province in 2004, with attacks becoming more complicated and more violent.
-- MCOT/TNA 2012-03-08
John, SIO THailand: "This is another case of Buddhists not being able to observe their holy days in the south without being attacked. I didn't send you yesterday's announcement about heavy security arrangements to cover these activities. I guess it wasn't enough."
Four troops killed, another injured in Narathiwat bomb attack
Narathiwat - Four troops were killed and another severely injured when insurgents detonated a roadside bomb to ambush a unit providing security for Buddhists in Narathiwat late Wednesday night.
The unit was returning home after providing security to Buddhist devotees and monks at a temple in the evening of Maka puja Day when the explosion occurred at 10:40 pm.
The explosion occurred on a road along the railway in Yaba village in Tambon Rusoh in Rusoh district.
Police said insurgents detonated the homemade bomb with a wired control. Police said a wire, which was over 100-metre-long, was found at the scene.
Sgt Dejpol Lowannee, the chief of the patrol unit, Cpl Sompong Taesanan, Pvt Kamol Panthong, and Pvt Suwat Nilpak were killed. Pvt Suriya Jachalee was severely injured and rushed to the Rusoh Hospital.
-- The Nation 2012-03-08
Quick probe into criminal cases in deep South crucial
A transparent and speedy probe into three high-profile criminal cases involving the military in the deep South is crucial to restoring relations with the Muslim locals and minimising the chances of insurgents exploiting them for propaganda against authorities, a Pattani seminar on counter-insurgency was told yesterday.
The most egregious case is the reported rape of a 16-year-old Muslim girl by soldiers attached to an unspecified unit.
A video of the act, filmed by a soldier with a camphone, was distributed throughout Yarang district, said Asis Benhawan, a senior adviser to the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC).
Due to the sensitivity of the incident, neither news reports nor Asis have given a clear picture of what transpired, whether it was a consensual act or against the girl's will, or was simply a case of statutory rape because of her age.
Asis said that besides disbanding an entire outpost that was the base of the soldiers' unit, mediation was necessary and must be done quickly to compensate her and find her a new school.
The other two cases are progressing through the normal process. One was the recent beating of suspected insurgents while in custody by soldiers in Narathiwat and the other was the fatal shooting of four villagers allegedly by a group of paramilitary rangers in Pattani's Nong Chik district last month.
The SBPAC is taking part in probing the shooting case, relying on extra intelligence resources, he said.
The military needs to continue cementing relations with the local populace to win them over while being strict with discipline and pre-empting actions to prevent such incidents from reoccurring, he said.
Asis was speaking as the chairman of an advisory board comprising 25 members from nine councils representing locals in the three southernmost provinces.
In Narathiwat, a Buddhist temple has only three resident monks because few local Buddhists want to ordain.
They fear for their lives, as monks on morning alms rounds have been frequently attacked by militants with knives.
At Urai Rattanaram Temple in Bacho district, the rite to mark Visakha Bucha Day, by circling the main temple three times was held at noon instead of late evening for safety reasons.
The event, presided over by the three monks, was joined by troops on security detail and 50 Buddhist civilians.
-- The Nation 2012-03-08
John writes, "This is usually touted as a "Special Administrative Zone". Since Thailand already has some of these, it didn't sound any alarm bells for me. But now that he cites it as a form of autonomy for the Muslim South, I see this stealth jihad conforms to the jihadis plan presented at the OIC."
Army Chief Against Autonomus Pattani
BANGKOK: -- The Army chief maintains he does not agree with the designation of Pattani Province as a self-governing zone given the current administrative form is most appropriate.
Privy Councilor General Surayud Chulanont said the establishment of Pattani Province as an autonomous area will have to be considered by security agencies, given he does not have the authority to comment on the matter.
Meanwhile, Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said he has discussed the matter with Deputy Prime Minister General Yutthasak Sasiprapa several times and maintained he has never agreed with the proposal.
Prayuth said the present administration is most suitable while the establishment of an autonomous Pattani state should no longer be discussed given the matter is very sensitive. He added local residents there have never asked for their home province to be established as a self-governing area.
I guess it depends on who you define as local resident since the jihad's representatives presented it as a demand at the OIC.
Regarding the Constitution amendment, the general said the news presented by some media agencies concerning the matter could provoke a clash between conflicting groups. Prayuth said the general public can judge which parties will benefit or are affected by the amendment.
He urged those in power not to use their majority mandate for their own gain while asking all parties to help rebuild national unity to move the country forward.
-- Tan Network 2012-03-08
Here defines it as 99%
Army Chief rejects special administration in Deep South
BANGKOK, 8 March 2012 (NNT) - Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army Gen.Prayuth Chan-ocha has confirmed there is no need for a special administrative zone in the southern border region of Thailand, saying that he believes the majority of the locals disagree with the idea.
Gen.Prayuth on Thursday spoke to the media about the controversial draft act of Pattani Darussalam for the establishment of a special administrative zone in the restive South. He said he had met with Deputy Prime Minister for Security Affairs Gen.Yuthasak Sasiprapa to discuss the matter.
According to Gen.Prayuth, the deputy premier clarified that he only said he would study the draft act but he did not mean that the law would be enforced as the decision would depend on the government.
Gen.Prayuth also said he believed more than 99% of the local people did not want the southern border special administrative zone to be set up. In his capacity as a national security official, the army chief said he personally disagreed with the idea and warned of its sensitivity.