Al Qaeda and Thailand

The World

RG says if the Thai rebels aren’t getting direct support from Al Qaeda, they’re certainly inspired by the group’s tactics, �we have seen that some of the tactics have been very much driven by Al Qaeda increasingly to attack high profile targets and increasingly to do bombings. So in that way the groups in southern Thailand have been influenced by Al Qaeda.� MW �now I read a report from the Associated Press that the insurgents are also getting funding from the local drug traffickers. Can you explain that?� RG �it’s possible such a thing could happen by I myself have not yet seen such evidence. I think it’s so important today for us to examine whatever evidence that has been presented in this case.� MW �And from what you’ve seen, the evidence points to a larger Islamic movement or is it just something that symbolizes a separatist movement of ethnic malaise in Thailand?� RG �it’s still very much an internationalist movement but there are some individuals that want to make it a pan-Islamic movement. But I believe that it is still very much internationalist movement but certainly in the case of Chechnya, Kashmir, the Philippines, we have seen these international movements have been infiltrated by Al Qaeda and by other pan-Islamic organizations. So it could very well happen in the case of Thailand over time.� MW �after the coup in 2006 against then-Prime Minister Talksin Shinuat, the military government promised to end the violence. That didn’t happen and the military has pretty much admitted that they have not achieved the goal. How much did that failure to stop the violence kind of destabilize things and create a window that these insurgents and potential international terrorists climbed through?� RG �When the new government came to power, there was a great opportunity for Bangkok to negotiate with the groups in the south. This did not happen, this was a big mistake.� MW �So now a new government, the People’s Power Party, is about to take charge. That’s Taksin Shinuat’s own party. What challenges lie ahead?� RG �I believe that this new government should focus on negotiating with the insurgents, otherwise the insurgency will spread and it could create a very serious problem.� MW �it sounds like if you were going to send advice to Washington DC, you’d probably say you’re looking at a looming, failed mini-state in southern Thailand run by Islamic militants?� RG �I believe that there still is a lot of opportunity for Bangkok to reach out and work with the moderate Muslims in the south of Thailand. I still believe that all is not lost in the south of Thailand.� MW �but if they don’t do that?� RG �I believe that if they don’t do that, certainly the insurgency will spread, the insurgency will deepen and it will affect the security of Thailand.�

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