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Guide The Terrorist Threat from Thailand: Jihad or Quest for Justice?

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Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Since January , the violence in the southern provinces in Thailand has claimed more than 4, lives. The violence has also adversely affected the local economy and quality of life in the southern provinces. The atmosphere of fear and intimidation is dividing the society on religious lines with growing apprehension that what began as a separatist nationalist conflict m Since January , the violence in the southern provinces in Thailand has claimed more than 4, lives.

The atmosphere of fear and intimidation is dividing the society on religious lines with growing apprehension that what began as a separatist nationalist conflict might well end up as a clash between Buddhism and Islam. There is also a strong potential for the Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand to get sucked into the global jihad. Gunaratna and Acharya provide a short history of the conflict, which dates at least to the early s, as well as an analysis of factors contributing to the most recent escalation of violence in The authors shed light on the causes of the Southern Thai conflict and examine its potential to spread from Thailand to neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

A strong potential also exists for this predominantly localized conflict to get absorbed into the global jihad. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. Published November 1st by Potomac Books first published January 30th More Details Original Title. Other Editions 1. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

To ask other readers questions about The Terrorist Threat from Thailand , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about The Terrorist Threat from Thailand. Hamid Ismailov. Civilian Strategy in Civil War. Islam in Asia. Colin Rubenstein. Che, My Brother. Juan Martin Guevara. Southeast Asian Muslims in the Era of Globalization. Jonathan Barker. Islamic Education in Indonesia and Malaysia. Azmil Mohd Tayeb. Securitizing Islam. Stuart Croft. Terrorist Rehabilitation and Counter-Radicalisation.

Lawrence Rubin. Rohan Gunaratna. Handbook of Terrorism in the AsiaPacific. Wars From Within. Albrecht Schnabel. Inside Al Qaeda. Terrorist Rehabilitation. Countering Terrorism. Michael Chandler. International Case Studies of Terrorist Rehabilitation. The Three Pillars of Radicalization. Arie W.

Targeting Terrorist Financing. Arabinda Acharya.

The Terrorist Threat from Thailand: Jihad or Quest for Justice?

Deradicalisation and Terrorist Rehabilitation. Countering Extremism. Whither Southeast Asia Terrorism? How to write a great review. The review must be at least 50 characters long. The title should be at least 4 characters long. Your display name should be at least 2 characters long. At Kobo, we try to ensure that published reviews do not contain rude or profane language, spoilers, or any of our reviewer's personal information. You submitted the following rating and review. We'll publish them on our site once we've reviewed them.

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Close Report a review At Kobo, we try to ensure that published reviews do not contain rude or profane language, spoilers, or any of our reviewer's personal information. Would you like us to take another look at this review? No, cancel Yes, report it Thanks! You've successfully reported this review. It also led the JeI to resort to violence ahead of the January vote.

Seeking Justice in the Face of Terrorism in Mali

Law enforcement agencies focused attention on opposition leaders and activists spearheading violent protests to subvert the election. Awami League supporters and officials were also attacked in the run-up to and on election day. The polls themselves, in January , were likewise marred by violence. A year later, a very violent campaign led by the BNP and JeI — replete with arson attacks on polling stations and assaults on policemen, as well as hartals strikes and transport blockades — marked the anniversary of those elections.

This campaign, aimed at forcing fresh elections, provoked months of clashes, leaving around people dead or missing. JeI activists were responsible for some of the worst attacks. What had started as an online community reportedly inspired by the sermons of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U. Crisis Group interviews, counter-terrorism officials, Dhaka, May-June Hide Footnote Ansar soon began identifying itself, through online posts, as the Bangladesh chapter of al-Qaeda.

Hide Footnote In an online statement, Ansar said it was targeting writers, journalists, intellectuals and artists who publicly insulted Islam, rather than unbelievers who kept their views private. In the course of the year, six more bloggers and two gay rights activists were similarly hacked to death, and four others injured, either in their homes or in public places, with all attacks claimed by Ansar.

Hide Footnote Ansar is primarily urban-based. A well-informed source said many members do not know each other except through pseudonyms. Hide Footnote Although it remains a small organisation, according to intelligence and counter-terrorism officials, Ansar has a formal structure that divides members into three groups, managed by a coordination team: dawa , which oversees logistics and recruitment; asqari , which oversees military training; and a media wing run by IT experts that collates domestic and international coverage of the group.

Hide Footnote The group also includes a sub-group, mashul , which plans and oversees all attacks, while the foot soldiers executing operations are part of a subcategory called mamur. Crisis Group interviews, security officials, Dhaka, May-June One was reportedly Junoon Shikder, another North South student, arrested in for alleged links with Ansar but released on bail a year later. He, too, fled to Malaysia, in , whence he reportedly moved to Syria, suggesting he may have shifted his allegiance from al-Qaeda to ISIS. Since late , the killings of bloggers have stopped. Many prominent online activists either have fled Bangladesh or keep a lower profile.

Hide Footnote Ansar itself appears to have faded from public attention, its appeal perhaps diminished in part because it arose in the context of the war crimes trials. With most high-profile Islamists accused of atrocities in convicted and some executed, the trials generate less immediate attention from the constituencies they initially outraged.

Hide Footnote Junoon and an unspecified number of other jihadists allegedly continue to operate Malaysia- and Singapore-based cells, which have been key to the transition of some Ansar members to ISIS, as well as to the facilitation of movement to Syria. Hide Footnote Intelligence officials claim to regularly discover communications between jihadists in Bangladesh and Malaysia- or Singapore-based Ansar cells during investigations.

There were initially clear distinctions between Ansar and JMB. Ansar members saw themselves primarily as defenders of Islam battling Western secular ideas, rather than fighting for an Islamic state. Most Ansar leaflets that investigators recovered at attack sites emphasised that the organisation was not at war with peoples of other faiths unless they slighted or undermined Islam. Hide Footnote In contrast, JMB since its founding almost two decades ago, and again in its recent resurgence, has pursued the establishment of Islamic law and perceived anyone not subscribing to its interpretation of Islam, including religious and sectarian minorities, as well as non-Muslim foreigners, as legitimate prey.

Hide Footnote Since , JMB has expanded its activities beyond its traditional strongholds in the north and south west, and conducted attacks countrywide, including in Dhaka, where it was responsible — at least partly though perhaps entirely — for the attack. At the outset, the outfit had four tiers, each defined by level of responsibility and commitment to the organisation: majlis-e-shura , a consultative decision-making council directly under the amir , or chief; ehsar , or full-time members; gayeri ehsar , or part-time activists; and sudhis well-wishers and saathis comrades.

This wing was meant to include six divisions, each with a chief and deputy, and four sectors — ordnance, operations, intelligence and medical — but it was never fully operationalised. Each sector was also meant to have subdivisions. For example, explosives, electronics technology, weapons collection and stockpiling fell under ordnance; guerrillas and fedayeen suicide attackers under operations. Hide Footnote Today, the majlis-e-shura reportedly has seven members.

It approves all attacks and killings. The current amir , Salauddin, oversees regional commanders and brigades, which have both dawa , or logistics and recruitment, and military wings. Hide Footnote In a recent interview, Salauddin said the group was expanding its network beyond Bangladesh, although it is difficult to assess the veracity of this claim; despite ties to militants elsewhere, the JMB itself has never perpetrated an attack outside Bangladesh. Hide Footnote According to counter-terrorism officials, the group recruits not just young men, but entire families, including women.

The group has recruited entire families since its early days. Hide Footnote They claim that recruiters also are attempting to attract youth in regions outside Dhaka that are politically volatile and have a large conservative base, including the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Noakhali, Lakshmipur and Chapainababganj.

He did, however, acknowledge that some members had joined ISIS. The faction was divided by geographic region, with each regional unit led by a commander who focused on operational activities endorsed by the central leadership. Several regional commanders have been killed in Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi and points further north. The structure that Chowdhury headed appears to have been dismantled but counter-terrorism officials say it has splintered into smaller cells that, for now, conduct fewer coordinated operations.

Counter-terrorism officials believe he was the primary coordinator between ISIS and Bangladeshi jihadist groups. He also established contact with young extremists who provided access to youth studying at coaching centres. Crisis Group interview, senior intelligence official, Dhaka, June Even earlier, in , Bangladeshi intelligence and security agencies uncovered communications between local jihadists and Bangladeshi fighters in Syria, though they could not decode much of the content. Hide Footnote ISIS also began claiming responsibility for several attacks in Bangladesh — including the Dhaka attack — on social media.

Saifullah Ozaki, a Bangladeshi who formerly was an associate professor in Kyoto, reportedly played a key role through an online platform in recruiting Bangladeshis to ISIS and arranging their travel to Syria. Hide Footnote According to Bangladeshi counter-terrorism officials, local jihadists began using ISIS propaganda to appeal to middle- and upper middle-class youth, and inducting former activists from Hizb-ut Tahrir, a pan-Islamist missionary movement that rejects jihadist violence, and retired military personnel.


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Hizb-ut Tahrir is a transnational Islamist proselytising organisation that is banned in Bangladesh. Hide Footnote Many security and counter-terrorism experts believe that a new generation of jihadists, earlier linked to JMB or Ansar, now identifies more directly with ISIS than with purely homegrown entities. Some police officials contend that acknowledgment of such a presence would be too politically costly at a time when the government claims counter-terrorism successes. Soon after it assumed office in , the Awami League faced a mutiny by personnel from the Bangladesh Rifles, a border security force.

Around 74 people were killed, including senior counter-terror officials and 57 army officers. In January , the army detained twelve officers for an alleged coup attempt. Although none was tried, most were dismissed on various grounds, most often indiscipline. Estimates of the number of officers sacked or forced into retirement since vary from 50 to Hide Footnote To quell further dissent and unrest among officers and soldiers, the government offers financial incentives: salary hikes, budget increases and lucrative government contracts to military-controlled entities involved in housing, transport and major infrastructure projects.

Hide Footnote Several young men living in residential quarters for former army officers were arrested in for attempting to establish ties to ISIS. Hide Footnote The same year, a counter-terrorism official claimed that law enforcement officials had found military training manuals and military-issued uniforms and bullets during a raid of a jihadist hideout in Chittagong. Hide Footnote Jihadist organisations are clearly trying to tap into military disgruntlement.

Much as discontent in the military provides opportunities that jihadists might exploit, so too could the Rohingya crisis. Hide Footnote The Rohingya influx has significant security ramifications for Bangladesh, though the challenge for Bangladeshi authorities is to assess the dangers accurately and adopt a measured and sensible response. A large, stateless population with slim prospects of returning to Myanmar any time soon places enormous strain on authorities and host communities, raising the potential for friction between refugees and the local population.

That said, clearly it would be counterproductive — even offensive — to portray the long-suffering Rohingya community, for many of whom the past few months have brought unimaginable horrors, as jihadists in waiting. Some reports suggest that a small number from the refugee camps have joined the ARSA, though that group remains focused on Myanmar; as yet no evidence suggests it has ties to transnational jihadism.

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Hide Footnote In the past, militant Rohingya groups had small bases in Bangladeshi territories and one, the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation, collaborated with Jamaat-ul Mujahideen on weapons and explosives training; and some counter-terrorism analysts believe that Ansar might be training and arming Rohingya militants today. Al-Qaeda had included Myanmar on a list of key targets, and in December its Bengali media output included a video call to arms to avenge the persecution of Arakan Muslims.

We have to do something and do it urgently. Hide Footnote Akayed Ullah, the Bangladeshi immigrant who detonated a pipe bomb in a New York subway corridor on 11 December , had visited the Rohingya camps three months earlier. Hide Footnote That said, jihadists have long drawn attention to the suffering of Muslims around the world — including, for example, that of the Palestinians — to inspire attacks yet frequently this tactic does not translate into jihadist inroads into the conflicts in question.

Clearly, Bangladeshi authorities must remain alert to such dangers. Overall, though, their response to the Rohingya crisis should involve less counter-terrorism than humanitarian provision for a traumatised refugee population. They should concentrate as well on preventing and containing friction between Rohingyas and host communities. Since the Dhaka attack, law enforcement agencies have raided numerous jihadist hideouts in different parts of the capital, neighbouring Narayanganj and Gazipur, Chittagong, as well as in the north. Yet many counter-terrorism operations seem focused on killing those suspected of involvement with jihadist networks, rather than disrupting or dismantling those networks and countering their influence.

Since no police were injured, many in the media speculated that the encounter was staged. Similarly, in August , the police claimed to have killed the alleged mastermind of the Dhaka attack, Tamim Chowdhury, and two accomplices in a gun battle. But there were allegations that Chowdhury had been in police custody for at least two weeks before the supposed encounter.

Hide Footnote Odhikar, a Bangladeshi human rights organisation, estimates that there have been as many as 2, such killings since by the Rapid Action Battalion and police, with in and in This group also says at least people, including alleged militants as well as opposition BNP and JeI members, have disappeared since the Awami League government came to office in Hide Footnote Many others have been detained for long periods without charge. Among the latter category were two survivors of the Dhaka attack, Hasnat Karim and Tahmid Hasib. Hasib was detained for almost a year before being released without charge; Karim remains in custody, charged with involvement in the attack, though officials have provided few details.

Hide Footnote A district police official acknowledged that extrajudicial killings were common. Many government and law enforcement officials believe the criminal justice system incapable of dealing effectively with terrorism cases, as delays and prolonged trials often end without convictions while militants recruit and proselytise in prisons. A former Rapid Action Battalion official claimed that jailed militants established protection rackets for petty criminals, whom they eventually recruit. How am I meant to prevent radicalisation here? Hide Footnote Circumvention of the criminal justice system is clearly the wrong response, however.

The culture of impunity it breeds also erodes professionalism in the security forces and in some cases appears to have encouraged other forms of criminality. Some members are involved in contract killings and kidnappings for ransom; in , a spate of murders in Narayanganj involved top Rapid Action Battalion officials including a former army lieutenant colonel. At least 27 RAB officials, including three top officials seconded from the army, were found responsible for the contract killing commissioned by a rival politician of the ruling party.

Hide Footnote Extrajudicial killings feed jihadist propaganda about injustice; Ansar has shared images of those killed during the Hefazat protests through its Telegram channel to entice new recruits. Some law enforcement officials also express concern that killing rather than apprehending militants wastes opportunities to obtain vital intelligence. A security official contended that a killing in in which he was involved might have cost law enforcement agencies an opportunity to uncover planning for and disrupt the Dhaka attack.

Hide Footnote Inadequate investigations and questioning of arrested militants may lead to similarly squandered opportunities. Jihadist groups raise funds from multiple sources. Zakat , obligatory Islamic alms for the poor, was a major funding source for the previous generation of jihadists and is still tapped by such groups. State Department, Hide Footnote According to a former senior security official, jihadist outfits also depend on forged Indian currency from Pakistan.

Hide Footnote Individuals as well as organisations from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in particular fund madrasas and mosques across Bangladesh, with some of the money apparently finding its way to jihadist groups. Hide Footnote Particularly vexing is the jihadist use of hundi , an informal domestic and international money transfer mechanism. Hide Footnote But JMB has long run its own hundi operations that provide both profits and a secure method of moving funds.

Hide Footnote Moving small sums over time is a simple way of evading detection. The central bank, Bangladesh Bank, has had marginal success in screening these transfers. More promising are its attempts to make more attractive the use of regular banking channels for remittances. The government has taken steps to counter money laundering and terrorist financing. The Anti-Terrorism Act empowered Bangladesh Bank to freeze accounts and take other actions to curb criminal activity. The Money Laundering Prevention Act of and amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Act lengthened the list of money laundering offenses and expanded the categories of reporting entities, while widening the scope of legal sanctions.

The Mutual Legal Assistance Act aimed to strengthen international cooperation efforts. These efforts have met with international approval. Hide Footnote and an October Asia Pacific Group assessment noted significant improvement in compliance with international anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing standards. Hide Footnote Bangladeshi authorities now need to get better at investigating and prosecuting complex financial crimes.

The state has won very few money laundering and terrorist financing convictions, though hundreds of cases are pending. Hide Footnote Law enforcement agencies lack the capacity to collate and understand financial intelligence, including that gathered by the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit, and at making use of that intelligence in their investigations. Awami League leaders accuse the BNP of assisting militants when it was in office from ; some of them go so far as to accuse it of involvement in high-profile jihadist attacks since Similar accusations against JeI are equally politicised, as evidenced by the measures taken to force the party from politics and its base almost entirely underground.

With the JeI weakened and many senior leaders executed following the war crimes trials, there is a risk that some supporters throw in their lot with harder-line groups, as avenues to pursue goals peacefully close. One senior counter-terrorism official claimed that several former leaders of Shibir, which has a long history of violence, have joined jihadist organisations in recent years.

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Hide Footnote Leaders of JeI and its student wing deny allegations that party members have turned to jihadism, scorning those charges as a government conspiracy to discredit the party. Law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh rely on brute force in part because the criminal justice system is enfeebled, with poor investigative capacity, weak prosecutors and a paralysing backlog of court cases.

This is particularly the case in rural communities where significant jihadist recruitment takes place and police are poorly paid, prone to corruption and lacking in basic training. Together, these factors have allowed scores, possibly hundreds, of detained militants to escape punishment. Hide Footnote Killing alleged jihadists is doubly injurious: it validates this view while impeding intelligence gathering.

It seems some political leaders would rather continue to use the flawed justice system against rivals than reform it. To implement a more effective counter-terrorism strategy, it will need to address the causes of its deteriorating criminal justice system, notably obsolete investigation methods and resources as well as the failure to professionalise police and prosecution agencies.


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  4. Of equal importance, the government ought to redress the acute politicisation that has created space for the re-emergence of jihadist movements and hindered efforts to tame the threat they pose. That task will require a reorientation of present exclusionary policies. That welter of accusations is dubious on several counts. Hide Footnote At the same time, the government is making its own concessions to Islamists, notably Hefazat, whose views — it opposes the principle of a pluralist, secular democracy; allowing women in the workplace; or appointing Hindus to key government posts — are arguably harder-line than those of JeI.

    In January , responding to criticism from Hefazat, the government agreed to remove contributions by non-Muslim and secular authors in public school textbooks.

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    This decision effectively opened to madrasa graduates employment opportunities that are closed to others with the same limited formal schooling. Not only does it divert police resources from disrupting jihadist recruitment and planning. But, in addition, by depriving JeI of legitimate platforms for dissent and exposing it to a harsh crackdown, the government might force some JeI activists to follow exactly the path it accuses them of taking already — the path toward finding common cause with militants.

    Instead, the Awami League would be better served by forging consensus with the BNP on how to tackle the threat. Her party, whose activists have already resorted to street agitation — which could turn violent — has said it will not field candidates in December if she remains imprisoned; another virtually uncontested election would further erode government legitimacy and risk violent BNP-Awami League clashes as in Whatever the outcome of the appeal, in the interest of social peace, the Awami League should withdraw politically motivated corruption and criminal charges against Zia and other senior BNP officeholders and stop the repression of their supporters.

    The BNP should urge its cadres to exercise restraint, rather than turning to violence, and craft a compromise with the government. The alternative is continued confrontation and zero-sum politics that will increase the risks of another deeply contested election, with jihadists potentially taking advantage of any ensuing crisis or violence. Police officers, lawyers, and others who have interacted with jihadists contend that large numbers of militants are drawn to jihadist ideas online prior to joining violent groups.

    Hide Footnote That said, there is little credible research on what drives recruitment or on the profile of those recruited, beyond approximate age group and broad geographic location with a heavy concentration in northern regions.

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    Indeed, recruits show enormous diversity: from madrasa students to upper middle-class youth at private universities. Hide Footnote The government has adopted some strategies beyond law enforcement to counter the appeal of jihadism. Its approach includes public awareness campaigns and training muezzins mosque preachers to give anti-militancy sermons at Friday prayers.

    Ministry records suggest that Friday sermons against militancy have been delivered at over , mosques. Prominent international clerics have been invited to speak against radicalisation, and documentaries and television advertisements with the same message have been aired. Crisis Group interviews, government officials, Dhaka, August