"mystery group" runs insurgency in thai south

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    Tuesday, July 26. 2005

    Militants, who do not know who their leaders are, fight based on ideology
    By Nirmal Ghosh

    PATTANI - YOUNG militants who are killing innocent people and in turn being
    killed in southern Thailand are not even aware of who their leaders are.

    'Now the Pemuda, or youth, only know their trainers.

    'They do not need to know who the leader is, they fight based on ideology.

    'Ideology is the unifier. Even young boys training five to six others do not
    know the leader,' a source familiar with the operation told The Straits Times.'

    The insurgency in southern Thailand, which has become so bloody it prompted
    the government to declare an emergency there recently, is being run by
    committee.

    This unifying body is called the Dewan Pembabasan Pattani (DPP). Its members
    have not been identified.

    The DPP is the top of a pyramid of groups, according to sources in southern
    Thailand. At the bottom are the terrorist cells.

    The most well-organised group is believed to be the Barisan Revolusi Nasional
    Coordinate (BRN Coordinate).

    The authorities believe it planned and executed an attack in Yala on July 14
    in which militants murdered two policemen, wounded dozens and destroyed two
    big stores.

    Other groups have also emerged from the factionalism of Pattani separatists
    in the 1980s. They, too, operate in loose collaboration with the BRN Coordinate.

    The existence of the DPP first came to light in documents seized from the
    house of alleged separatist Masae Useng in 2003.

    'It is not a new idea, but now this structure has been activated,' a military
    source said. 'But we do not know who is in it.'

    One source said the hard core of the BRN had learned that whenever the
    movement had a clear organisation and leadership, it was destroyed.

    This movement simply uses the call of separatism to rouse the people. The
    source said the real fight was for a better deal and justice for Muslims.

    Historically, the closest the Pattani separatists got to a single unifying,
    charismatic leader was a man named Haji Sulong.

    Even he did not demand independence; he wanted 'self rule', and especially
    justice.

    The Thai government jailed Haji Sulong in 1948 but international pressure
    forced it to grant some of his demands.

    The government released him in 1952. Haji Sulong is believed to have been
    killed by police two years later. That has made him an icon in the deep south.

    But the movement never had another leader like him. So it began to split up.

    Today, the resurgent militancy is buried so deep underground that Bangkok has
    found it hard to unearth anyone to deal with on a political level.

    Wanted individuals such as Masae Useng and Sapaing Basoe, former headmaster
    of Yala's Thamma Witthaya school, probably operate one level below the DPP, a
    source said. The cells at that level include a military wing which has its own
    divisions called Specialists, Commandos and Pemuda (youth recruits).

    The documents found in Masae Useng's house revealed that the movement wanted
    to build a total cadre strength of more than 30,000 - 300 specialists, 3,000
    commandos and 30,000 youth members.

    But intelligence analysts believe its strength has probably only reached the
    halfway mark with about 15,000 members.

    Alongside the armed wing are departments that are supposedly dedicated to
    foreign affairs, youth and the economy, as well as a propaganda wing called Ulema
    (religious teachers).

    Military sources say the insurgents' funding comes from events such as local
    football matches, a membership fee of one baht a day and, more worrying, from
    outside Thailand.

    The source said: 'We do not know exactly where the money from abroad is
    coming from.'

    Documents found in Masae Useng's house revealed that:

    The movement wanted to build a total cadre strength of more than 30,000 - 300
    specialists, 3,000 commandos and 30,000 youth members.

    Intelligence analysts believe the movement's strength has probably only
    reached the halfway mark with about 15,000 members.

    Alongside the armed wing are departments that are supposedly dedicated to
    foreign affairs, youth and the economy, as well as a propaganda wing called Ulema.
 
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