Thailand: A Wave of Terror Hits the Nation

For the past nine years H. Numan has been Gates of Vienna’s Bangkok correspondent, sending us occasional reports on events in the Land of Smiles. This latest account provides the political context for the major terrorist attacks that hit Thailand on Thursday and Friday.

A wave of terror hits the nation
by H Numan

Last Friday Thailand had a rude awakening: Thursday evening the beach resort town Hua Hin was hit by two explosions. Killing one and injuring twenty others. Another explosion hit Surat Thani. One person was injured, but no people got killed.

But it wasn’t over. During the morning in Phuket another two bombs exploded; before that a popular market in Trang burned to the ground, followed by an explosion. In all four people died and twenty were injured, some of them seriously. Many of them were tourists. The nation is reeling in shock.

First of all, there is something that you should know. 12 August is the queen’s birthday. She is just as revered as the king; both enjoy a semi-divine status. Her birthday is Thailand’s Mother’s Day, and the king’s birthday is, of course, Thailand’s Father’s Day. Both are national holidays. As this year it fell on a Friday, people got a long weekend off. That means it was busier than usual on Thursday evening. All targets were popular crowd spots and tourist attractions. Hua Hin is an important resort town, Phuket Island the same, but much bigger. Trang not so much, but the target there was a popular night market.

The police and the army are on high alert. The news today is that everything that can go on high alert is on high alert. Hua Hin is sealed off. The major road is blocked, and all other roads have roadblocks. All airports are under maximum security. In Phuket and Hua Hin department stores have either been ordered to close down for the weekend, or to open with lots of extra security guards on duty.

The prime minister addressed the nation on TV, after the celebration programs for the queen ended. He asked for patience so the investigators get the time to work it out, and called for unity. He also hinted he knows who is behind it. Possibly people who didn’t like the referendum we had last Sunday. The police announced they knew the attacks were coming, just not exactly when.

I respectfully disagree with both.

Thailand is ruled at the moment by a military junta. We have a prime minister, but he holds the rank of four-star general. The media use both terms: sometimes he is referred to as general Prayuth Cha-oncha; more often they call him the prime minister. The same for the government: sometimes it’s: ‘the junta has decided that …’ and sometimes it is: ‘the cabinet has decided that …’ Or the NCPO, The National Council for Peace and Order, that is the official title of the junta: ‘the NCPO has decided that …’

The government does want to restore democracy, but they also want to keep matters under firm control. They wrote a new constitution (the 26th, I believe) in which the prime minister is not elected and the army gets a bunch of free seats in the senate. There is also a ‘get out of jail free’ clause, article 44. It basically says if the prime minister is wrong, he is right anyway. In the weeks leading to this national referendum it became crystal clear that voting ‘no’ was not going to be appreciated.

The referendum went smoothly, no disturbances of any kind. The generals got what they wanted. The vote was about 65% in favor. Nobody actively campaigned against it. And yet, the prime minister seems to think nay-sayers might be behind the terrorist attacks. That makes no sense. Why wait a week? Why not during the ballot? Why damage a very important industry (tourism)? Why on the queen’s birthday?

The same goes for the announcement of the Royal Thai Police. If they knew the attacks were coming they would have closed down the country completely. With full martial law and a curfew, if necessary.

I think both made statements they knew full well were not the truth because the truth really can hurt. If they prime minister were to openly say the revolting Muslims in the south are behind it, the whole country might rise up in arms and pay them a visit. Better to refer to an unknown group that is vaguely defined. As for the police: they had a large number of buffoonish scandals during the last couple of weeks. They desperately need to show something positive.

The red shirts the prime minister not so subtly refers to are very strong in the north and northeast of the country, and very weak in the south and the west where the attacks happened. It makes absolutely no sense for them — supposing they are behind it — to initiate a big campaign where they have the least support.

International terrorism is ruled out. The attacks were not professional enough for that. That leaves, in my opinion, just one group: the revolting Muslims in the three southern border provinces. They are the only group that was firmly against the referendum. There was no more violence than usual there during the referendum, admittedly. But their power base is the deep south. Much deeper south than where the attacks happened. They rarely admit attacks or claim the responsibility for them. Nobody claimed any responsibility for these attacks. That fits the pattern. The attacks were carried out as they usually do it. Fits the pattern as well. What doesn’t fit the pattern is that they rarely if ever operate outside their area. This is, or could be, the first time.

Going through the news today I get the impression the government feels the way I do. Yes, Thailand is under a lockdown, but the south much more so than the rest. The southern command is under high alert orders that don’t apply to the rest of the country. The government assures the public they are looking everywhere, but I get the feeling they are more focused on the south.

It’s too soon to say who did it, but so far this is the best I can make of it.

— H. Numan

News sources:

11 thoughts on “Thailand: A Wave of Terror Hits the Nation

  1. I don’t understand why Islam is tolerated at all in Thailand. Why is it not treated like one huge insult to the Buddha and the King? (For those who don’t know, people have a tendency to get beaten to near death every so often for insulting the Buddha or the King.)

    Apparently, even with a military dictatorship, they can’t seem to get rid of Islam. Why don’t they just pull an Angola and ban Islam?

    • Today’s Thais are what’s left after the Muslims had finished their butchery and genoside across South East Asia. Territories like “Modern” Malaysia and “modern” Indonesia have virtually wiped out the Budhist population. Those same Muslims have high hopes for the same all over the Judeo-Christian west. We in the west of course are far too “modern” to consider such possibility thinking could even exist in the mind of any “modern refugee” or otherwise.

    • That’s because those three southern provinces didn’t belong to Thailand (Siam) until the early 1900’s. The sultans were effectively hired (or bribed) to pay allegiance to the king of Thailand. As the Thai king paid much better than the British governor of Malaysia, not a difficult choice.

      Only those in those 3 provinces and some areas in Bangkok are large muslim minorities. The Thai kings are the protectors of all faiths (and none) and are very lenient with regard to any religion (or none).

  2. I agree with H Numan’s opinion, it was likely the muslim separatists who conducted these attacks. They have some abilities to conduct low-level IED attacks, but their primary modus operandi has always been targeted assassinations of rubber plantation owners and workers. They have attempted some bigger ambushes against police and military patrols, but they prefer to inflict violence on the unarmed and undefended.

    In 2008, I was assigned to support Exercise Cobra Gold, a Multi-National exercise which highlighted the cooperative abilities of the Thai Navy and Marines with the US Marines and Navy. But Cobra Gold is ambitious and involves other ASEAN nations in a participatory or observational role. It is an unambigous message to the Chinese of the ability of these nations to conduct multinational military operations in SE Asia. I digress, prior to deployment to the exercise I was involved in the real world threat synopsis for the Commanding General of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade and introduced the Anti-terror Force Protection Chief to the wonders of TROP and its unflinching scoreboard. For the months of January, February and March, there were more incidents of Islamic violence in Thailand’s southern provinces than anyplace on earth save Iraq. While Iraq was an active war zone and the attacks there produced much higher casualty counts, I was still suprised how dangerous it was in Narithawat, Yala, Songkhla and Pattani.

    These attacks are not the result of the Red Shirts, who the current Army Junta may claim, but as H Numan suggests it is not advantageous nor likely they would have conducted operations in the south. They would be far more likely to challenge the government by large scale demonstrations in Bangkok proper. Not to say the Red Shirts are incapable of violence, they are the poor second class citizens who exist in Thailand’s “flyover country” and not the equally violent “illuminati” of the Yellow Shirts, supported by the Royal Family. They are angry, they know Thaksin was removed illegally and his sister Wing Luck was also the victim of yellow shirt chicanery.

    Full disclosure, my wife is from Udon Thani in the north, approximately a half hour from the Mekong and Laos. She is Isaan (Laotian-Thai mix) and experiences the occasional snub from her Thai friends as she is still the “dumb farm girl” compared to the ladies from Central Thailand.

  3. All should learn from the Spanish and the expulsion of the Moors more than 100 years after the surrender of Granada (and after nearly eight centuries of warfare!).

    The Spanish monarchs initially gave the Islamic Kingdom of Granada very favorable terms: Muslims would be free from taxation for a number of years and be judged by their own laws; one couldn’t insult a Muslim nor laugh at muezzins; and Christians were barred from entering mosques. (Sound familiar?) This did nothing to placate the inherent supremacist impulses of the Muslims (these terms actually acknowledged it). Over the ensuing decades the Spanish tried numerous methods to get the Moors to integrate: at first suasion, then persuasion and dispersion, and finally coercion; but without success. While some of the measures seem harsh by modern standards, they were ultimately necessary and justified as the recalcitrant Moors on more than one occasion rebelled against Spanish rule and plotted with the Ottomans as a fifth column. The Moors were unassimilable and an unremitting subversive threat that couldn’t be tamed. Expulsion was the only way to deal with this threat and the Spanish were eventually forced to expel 97% of their Moorish population back to North Africa.

    Islam is hell-bent on global domination and the sooner that the leaders of threatened countries learn that the whole of the Muslim population must be dealt with in an uncompromising manner — utter expulsion — the better. Otherwise, there will never be any domestic peace.

    • I know about the Reconquista, but didn’t know about the appeasement. Do you have any sources? I’m much interested in them.

        • Yes, excellent book!

          Also good to study, for historical guidance in our current struggle, is the less-well-known (in the West) and less-documented story of the Maratha Hindus.

          On the eve of British colonial entry into the Subcontinent, the Maratha people successfully rebelled against the Mughal Empire and its satellites, and were able to expel most Muslims from the land of Maharashtra in southwestern India.

          Those interested may look for information on the two most famous Maratha leaders, the 17th century founder, Chhatrapati (i.e. Emperor) Shivaji Bhonsle, and the 18th century military leader Peshwa (i.e. Prime Minister) Baji Rao I.

          Interestingly, by Baji Rao’s day, all cabinet ministers in the imperial Maratha court held military commands, and were expected to campaign actively in the field, with the sole exceptions of the Attorney General and the High Priest.

  4. ” If they prime minister were to openly say the revolting Muslims in the south are behind it, the whole country might rise up in arms and pay them a visit.”

    I think that’s unlikely, in fact Buddhist monks have been murdered by muslim separatists in the southern provinces in the past (an unspeakable act in Buddhist eyes) but there has been no Buddhist backlash. No, this is all about protecting the vital Tourism industry that is doing well while the rest of the economy is sluggish. It’s long been a standard practice of Thai media, Police and politicians to play down any news that might be detrimental to Tourism and any suggestion that the country might not be safe for Tourists. What is interesting now is that these muslim separatist groups may be changing tactics to damage the tourism industry to put pressure on the government to hold talks. Equally possible is that elements of those groups have morphed in global Jihadists taking inspiration from ISIS rather than a muslim homeland grievance. For those who don’t know, the three southern provinces were annexed by Thailand from a Malay Sultan around about 1910. They were predominately muslim populated area, and still are. In hindsight, may not have been such a good idea.

  5. The Thais need to take a look at what the Burmese are up to with their problem minority.

    Even Aung San Kyi, who I was certain was an NWO/globalist sellout, will not let up on them!

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