Is Southern Thailand Going the Way of Waziristan?
The South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG) warns of the slow takeover of Thailands majority Muslim southern provinces by faceless, anonymous, but deadly attackers.
At least in Waziristan some individual leaders and the organisations to which they belong have been identified---such as Baitullah Mehsud and Abdullah Mehsud of the local Taliban, Tohir Yuldashev of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Ayman al-Zawahiri of Al Qaeda and Jalaluddin Haqqani of the Neo Taliban. They are as invisible as the jihadi leaders in Southern Thailand, but they are at least audible. They keep disseminating audio messages, issuing statements, talking to the media over satellite phones etc. In Waziristan, human intelligence is as scanty as in Southern Thailand, but technical intelligence has been forthcoming from the US agencies operating in the area.
In Southern Thailand, the jihadi leaders are neither visible nor audible. No recorded messages, no statements, no TECHINT intercepts, no HUMINT derived either from sources or during the interrogation of arrested suspects. There are hardly any arrests----not even accidental. Counter-terrorism agencies often get a lucky break in the form of suspects accidentally intercepted and detained, failed attacks due to human error on the part of the terrorists or malfunctioning of their improvised explosive devices. One hears of hardly any such lucky-break in Southern Thailand. There is evidently no satisfactory data-base which could enable analysts to quantify the threat and assess the results of the counter-terrorism efforts.
There seems a lack of consensus about two aspects of the situation in Southern Thailand. First. How serious is it really? The SAAG thinks it is. Others may disagree. Second, who really leads the insurgency? Is it still fundamentally driven by a Malay/Muslim national feeling or is it the Jihad?