Evidence that the Muslim troubles in the south of Thailand may expand into a jihadist struggle were illustrated by the May 19 raid on an Islamic school at Ban Taloh Kapo village in the Ya Rang district of Pattani province. According to a report in the Bangkok Post Thai soldiers were led to the school after two persons, arrested on charges of setting fire to Buddhist schools, confessed that they had received military training there. [https://www.bangkokpost.co.th]
What made the raid notable was the uncovering, amid the discovery of firearms and ammunition, of evidence of Arabic language documents and al-Qaeda training CDs. Col. Chatuporn Kalampasut, commander of the 22nd Task Force said he believed the school was “linked to a separatist network which has created unrest in the South” and that “the school’s owner … is a leader of the network.”
The discovery places a question mark over the perceptions voiced by the government that the separatist struggle in the south, which has so far claimed over 670 lives since flaring up in January 2004, is free of a regional or international Islamist militant dimension. The incident is also provoking a re-think in the Thai military. While Defense Minister Gen. Thammarak Isarangkura na Ayudhaya insisted that intelligence reports had to date found no links between southern militants and al-Qaeda terrorists, he conceded that “as one school has been found to have adopted al-Qaeda weapons training, further investigation is needed.” Meanwhile, efforts are to be made to bring the private Islamic religious boarding schools into the formal education system [https://www.bangkokpost.co.th].