ASEAN Defense: 1) ISRA Foundation in English “Latest Muslim Insurgence attack a remake of the gun robbery on January 4, 2004”

Blog Note: ISRA Foundation, an independent news unit, that tracks the situation in Southern Thailand, has been highly critical of both the government “Military Solution Policy” and also of the “Political Solution” as offered by a former Thai general, Big Jiew, who master-minded the “Political Solution” strategy that won the war on the Communist Insurgents in Thailand.

Big Jiew envisioned the city of Pattani, at the heart of a former empire of Muslim that makes up some part of Southern Thailand-to be similar to Bangkok and Pattaya-in having its own elections and administration.

ISRA Foundation said such an independent city, with elections, will add to the seed of conflict in the Deep South-with political competition.

Big Jiw argued in response, that there is no other way, but accept the “Collateral Damages” as the on-going activity of the Muslim Insurgents has no “Military Solution” and with the independent Patani City, that would be a signal of appeasement-and could help bring the Muslim on the fringes, who are undecided as to their loyalty-towards the Bangkok government.

Initially, the reaction from the Muslim Insurgents were mixed, with some saying they will continue to struggle for full independent from Bangkok, yet others made quiet reconciliation moves.

Negotiation broke down-for lack of support on every side, with the current Bangkok government all gung-ho for a military solution-mixed in with massive psychological warfare to win over the population.

There are signs of success in the current Bangkok government push. ISRA Foundation, if taken as an indicator of a neutral observer, began to lean more towards the Bangkok position-given, still criticizing the harsher edges of that policy-such as arbitrary arrest and torture of Muslim suspects. About half of all arrest relating to terrorism-is thrown out of court-in the past 7 years.

To complicate the issue, the Muslim Insurgence got its initial “Rationale” to go active again, after many years of laying in dormant, based on Taksin‘s fighting crime in the Deep South-hurting Muslim Insurgents who have turned to lucrative illicit trade. Taksin himself, underestimate, the reaction to that war on crime-and folded a paramilitary unit-that have kept Bangkok in close observation of the Deep South-with these paramilitary being involved in the illicit trade.

That war on crime coupled with the disbandment of the paramilitary unit-saw the Muslim Insurgents raiding a military base, killing many and capturing a great deal of weaponry.

Thus the Muslim Insurgence issue, is very politicized in Thailand-with Taksin’s opposition-hell bent on not making the same mistake as Taksin did. Already, a Nation Editor, is spreading the rumor that it is Taksin former political net-work in the Deep South that is co-operating with the Muslim Insurgents to cause trouble for the government. Nation, is a local media conglomerate that supports the royalist, elite and military rulers of Thailand-and a staunch anti-Taksin.

In fact, Big Jiew is close to Taksin-and anything from Big Jiew, is thus seen as pro-Taksin-an discounted.

The situation is made much worse, during Taksin’s time, as a botched military operation saw massive numbers of protesting Muslim died of suffocation as they were being transported. Then the occupation of a Mosque, saw the local commander at the situation ground, an Internal Security Operations Command guy, refusing to follow orders from Taksin in Bangkok, to allowed the Muslim Insurgence to occupy the Mosque-with that operation turning into a massacre of the Muslim Insurgents.

But fundamentally, most Deep South Thai observer said they expected, after the military coup of 2006, that kicked out Taksin, that the situation in the Deep South would be re-solved-given that the military was in control and resource to address the situation was unlimited-and the Thai general who staged the coup is a Muslim. That coup leader is now head of a political party strong in the Deep South.

And resources did flow to Southern Thailand-with an aim of developing the region’s economy. For the past 7 years, about US$4 billion went relating to security and economic development in the 3 Deep South province.

But nothing seemed to work-as the number of arrest kept sky rocketing-and for the past 7 years-stands at about 80,000 cases relating to national security-and total killed now stands at about 4,000 to 5,000 depending on which data one subscribes to.

Many intelligence analyst noted, that the tactic of the terrorist had slowly changed, over the years, from isolated hits of individuals in low risk situations, the terrorist were taking more risks-in staging larger and larger more sophisticated attacks. The Thai government and military, saw that as signs that the Muslim Insurgents were losing steam and weakening.

Some intelligence analyst in Bangkok argued that with less random isolated hits-the psychological warfare could produce more results. Thus the larger more sophisticated attacks were discounted-as not sustainable in the medium to long-term.

While other just simply argue that the Thai military, underlying it all, have a stake in seeing a pro-longed struggle-as massive amount of funds are channeled through the military-on top of a thriving under-ground economy in the Deep South. The Thai military, is one of the most corrupted globally.

All of the above is the summary of the birth, growth and maturity of the Thai Muslim Insurgence. Rumors persists now, of international linkages-between the Thai Muslim Insurgence and global terrorist organization, and the global level Muslim organization is involved in the Thai Deep South-as a policy instrument.

ISRA Foundation called its latest report as follows: Latest attack a remake of the gun robbery on January 4, 2004.

The following is from ISRA Foundation:

The attack of an army outpost in Ra-nage district of Narathiwat by suspected Islamic insurgents was a replay of an incident seven years ago when militants attacked an army armoury in Cho-airong district of the same province on January 4, 2004 and robbed more than 400 pieces of firearms, including many M16 assault rifles.

This time around, the insurgents made off with more than 50 war weapons, including at least an M60 light machinegun.  Four soldiers were killed, including an army caption, and six others were wounded. The dead victims were identified as Cpt Krit Kampeerayarn, commander of the 15121st infantry company, Sgt Thaevarat Theva, Sgt Abdulloh Dayee and Pvt Jintana Nuttana.  Earlier report that six troopers were killed was a result of miscommunication.

It was not known how many insurgents were killed or wounded in the daring attack – the worst since January 4, 2004 which was likened to the “Gun Explosion Day” of the now disbanded Communist Party of Thailand – a symbolic day when the Communists fired the opening shots to mark the start of the armed insurgency.

More than 30 insurgents were involved in the attack of the army outpost in Tambon Maruebotok.  At the time, it was manned by about 80 troops, most of whom were scattering after they had just finished with their dinner and, therefore, they were caught off-guards by the insurgents, according to an informed source in the branch office of Internal Security Operations Command of the Fourth Army Region.

The source said that about ten insurgents first launched their attack at the front of the outpost by firing with their war weapons at the sentries guarding the premise.  The frontal attack was believed to be a diversion which succeeded in drawing most of the troops in the camp to rush to the front to fend off the surprise assault.

Shortly afterward, another band of insurgents, numbering about 20, stormed the outpost from behind as they moved toward the armoury which was then lightly guarded.  A firefight ensued but, in the end, the raiders managed to reach the armoury and took away more than 50 war weapons, including several M16 assault rifles, Uzi submachineguns and an M60 light machinegun, the first ever captured by the insurgents.

To prevent troop reinforcements from helping the besieged soldiers, the insurgents adopted their trademark tactic by scattering spikes and felling trees to block the main road leading to the army outpost.   As a consequence, reinforcements had to be flown in by a helicopter.

The same ISOC source said that the attack of the armoury in Ra-nage district was a well-planned special operation by the insurgents and the raiders were mobilized from different districts.

Although the main objective of the daring attack was believed to be the war weapons in the armoury, it was also meant for other purposes: to challenge the government and to prove wrong the government’s claim that it is making a progress in dealing with the insurgency problem, to provoke retaliation from security forces and to undermine the government’s plan to lift emergency rule in the restive region.

This morning, more than 1,000 troops, police and defence volunteers were mobilized to conduct a manhunt for the insurgents suspected to have fled to two mountains in Ra-nage district.

As far as death toll involving members of the security force was concerned, there were five deadly incidents in which several soldiers were killed since 2007.

–    May 9, 2007.  Seven troopers attached to a special psy-war unit were killed in an ambush by suspected insurgents in Ra-nage district of Narathiwat.
–    May 31, 2007.  Eleven paramilitary rangers were killed in Bannang Sata district of Yala in a roadside bomb explosion and ambush by suspected insurgents.
–    June 15, 2007.  25 members of the security force, including security teams for teachers, were killed in three separate incidents in Bannang Sata district of Yala.
–    January 14, 2008.  Eight soldiers of a security unit tasked with protecting teachers were killed in Janae district of Narathiwat.
–    July 1, 2010.  Five members of  the security force were killed in a bomb explosion and ambush by suspected insurgents in Ruesoe district of Narathiwat.

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