Night Watch: BANGKOK – An unnamed spokesman for the Pattani United Liberation Organization (PULO) has just given his first interview to a major news organization.
Reuters quoted him as saying that both inside and outside southern Thailand the PULO had tens of thousands of members “involved in the struggle” and were giving donations on a daily, weekly or monthly basis depending on what they could afford. “They are prepared to die. We must have the same guts as they do in Afghanistan and Palestine.” He added the PULO would not resort to suicide bombing. “It is not neccessary to do that.”
He refused to acknowledge any connection with al Qaeda(Iran) or Jemaah Islamiah, “We have no connection with those terrorists. Our struggle is for our own people, to get back what is rightfully ours. Pattani belongs to the Malays, just like Malaysia.” Pattani is what Malays call the southern provinces of Thailand, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, where 80% of the population is Muslim and mostly ethnic Malay.
They also state that Pattani is the spiritual home of Islam in Southeast Asia and was an independent Muslim sultanate until seized by Buddhist Thailand a century ago. The spokesman said the Malays want it back and that if Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra continues to be “stubborn” then the fight will be taken to tourist centers like Phuket, Pattaya or even Bangkok.
“If you look at our web site, that is what it says. Thaksin is my enemy. If he carries on like he is now, it is going to get worse. I would like to tell Thaksin we want back what we are supposed to have. It’s not that we want to separate from you. It is merely that we want back what belongs to us.”
He mentioned an even larger organization was also involved in the war against Bangkok, the BRN (Barasi Revolusi Nasional) Coordinate. That has alarmed foreign governments and investors. Last year Washington established an intelligence listening post in southern Thailand.
He said that some of the older members had fought with Afghan resistance fighters against the Soviet Union in the 1970’s (1980’s). “It’s not very hard to make bombs. It dosen’t take that much training.” Most of the more than 800 people who have been killed were Buddhist teachers, government officials and agricultural workers.
“The people who were killed might well have been government spies. That is why those involved in the struggle killed them. But at the same time, those who have been killed might have been common people.” He concluded by saying the PULO leadership have spent the last 15 years planning a sustained guerrilla separatist campaign and its leadership was not in Thailand.
I have to assume Malaysia is the main base for the leadership who may also be no stranger to Indonesia and Iran. It was three years ago that Mohammad Khatami, Iran’s then President, visited Kuala Lumpur with a 91-member delegation, that signed a lot of trade agreements, and stated that Islam should have more say in world affairs. This is a dispute Tehran would find convenient as it directs the Jihad’s economic priorities and one of them being control over Southeast Asia’s raw materials.
In the name of this cause the Council of Guardians are taking advantage of Islam’s historical pattern of spreading the faith through war. If the PULO, and other organizations can extend the control to Bangkok it would please Tehran-Kuala Lumpur greatly and receive full support, which they probably receive already.
In an attempt to end the crisis peacefully secret negotiations were conducted in Lausanne, Switzerland between Bangkok and the PULO. No results were announced but Bangkok had stated last year that their territory is not negotiable. Bangkok has received no assistance whatsoever from Kuala Lumpur.
There is no chance for this to be resolved peacefully so I have to conclude that with the beginning of the dry season, this fall, the fighting will increase with Bangkok forced to attack militant bases they say are in Malaysian provinces bordering Thailand. Bangkok will receive Allied support.
Night Watch Information Service
Based in Flossmoor,IL 60422.