Thursday, April 05, 2007

The forgotten jihad - Thailand

Mention jihad, Islamist terrorism, beheadings and bombings and most people's thoughts turn immediately to Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Darfur or Kashmir. A few might mention the Philippines or Indonesia.

Very few will think about Thailand.

But the fact is that a full scale jihad is underway in Thailand's four southern provinces, one of unbelievable savagery that has seen over 2,100 people murdered in the last three years.

A few weeks ago, jihadis stopped a small van in the street, forced all of its occupants out and then shot them dead on the spot. Three of the passengers were women, one was a young girl.

Just another day of Baghdad carnage, you say? But no, this happened in Thailand, traditionally a peaceful, prosperous and stable Asian country noted more for it's tourism and cuisine then for any association with the global jihad.

There has been an appalling and savage assault on southern Thailand by jihad, and more people are being killed in the most brutal ways imaginable than anywhere else except Iraq and Afghanistan.

Beheadings, bombings and the murder of children, policemen and school children are a common occurrence.

The war is mostly confined to four majority Muslim provinces in southern Thailand that border the Muslim nation of Malaysia, where the jihadis have found havens as well as financial support.

This is an Islamist attack, with the Thai jihadis linked with al-Qa'ida and its Southeast Asian offshoot, Jemaah Islamiah. It fits into the global pattern of Islamist jihad against the non-Muslim world, and the self proclaimed ultimate goal of the Muslim insurgents is a Muslim state in the four provinces under sharia law, ethnically cleansed of all non-Muslims.

Last September, Thailand's military ousted the elected prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, in a typically bloodless coup. The justification was the corruption of Thaksin's government and its lack of progress against the Muslim rebels in the south.

The head of the Thai army, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, is a Muslim and the new military Government is headed by General Surayud Chulanont, 62, a highly regarded retired officer and Buddhist known for his effectiveness and honesty. The government said that it would be more conciliatory towards Muslims in the south and said that he would follow a political strategy, and offer concessions.

And in truth, thanks to the way the Bush Administration deliberately crippled Thailand's war against jihad after the coup, an attempt at conciliation might have been the best option the Thais felt they had at the time.

But the end result, as is usual with attempts at appeasement, is that the killings have increased to their highest rate yet.

The Muslim attacks are becoming more savage and brutal, with an increase in beheadings. Women and children are frequent targets as are schools and teachers. The jihadis want to force Muslims out of government-run schools, or even government-supported Muslim schools, which teach a mixed curriculum. For many Muslims it is only safe now for their children to attend Muslim madrassahs.

There is also a rise in ethnic cleansing of Buddhists, with the rise in sectarian attacks and ethnic cleansing. The Muslim insurgents have succeeded in pushing 15 per cent of the Buddhist population out of the four southern provinces.

What's more, the insurgents have increasing support among Thailand's Muslim population. Muslim women and children have been used as human shields by the jihadis. In one case that made headlines all over Thailand, two Thai marines were taken prisoner and brutally murdered in a Muslim village by being hacked to death with machetes with their hands bound while the the Thai army was unable to rescue them - because Muslim women and children blocked the roads and would not let the Thai army vehicles through.

Muslims routinely hold violent demonstrations at police stations where jihadis are held to demand their release, and it's obvious to most observers that the Thai Muslims are much more afraid of the insurgents than the Thai army. The violent murders of Muslim `collaborators' by the insurgents has done much to reinforce this.

The Thai government itself has had a part in keeping the ongoing jihad under wraps as much as possible, partly because it doesn't want to discourage which is so important to Thailand's economy and partly because Thaksin's government and now the military-backed successor government have indulged in a certain amount of denial up to now, and backed away from the idea of confronting a full-blown Islamist insurgency in the south.

That denial may not be possible for much longer.

The insurgents have already attacked royal entourages three times, a major escalation in itself.
And while the Muslim insurgents so far have refrained from targeting Bangkok or the major tourist destinations like Phuket, this could change at any time.

Meanwhile, the forgotten jihad in Thailand continues on its bloody path as another front in the global assault on the West.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good post, nasty situation...

absurd thought -
God of the Universe loves
beheadings of schoolgirls

kill Christians, Buddhists and Jews
peacefully burn down their homes