Influx of Cambodian Muslims into Thailand

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 2 Issue: 10

Thai authorities have become suspicious of an unusually large swell of Cambodian Muslims entering the country and heading for its southern provinces. According to the Thai News Agency, more than a hundred Cambodian Muslims a day have recently crossed the border into the country, a figure considered to be ten times greater than usual.

According to the Thai News Agency, suspicions voiced by the deputy immigration chief at the Aranyaprathet crossing, centered on the number of valid passports carried by economically poor migrants, the price of which “would normally be beyond their means”. The migrants appeared to be accompanied by a cleric whom they said would “pay for all their expenses” to proceed onwards to Narathiwat province []. Narathiwat is one of the three southern Thai provinces which, since spring 2004, have witnessed an upsurge of Islamist-inspired violence.

Muslims make up less than one percent of the predominantly Buddhist population of Cambodia, a fact which makes the recent concentration of Muslims in the border village of Poi Pet (opposite Aranyaprathet) of some concern. The report by the Thai News Agency went on to quote the Aranyaprathet immigration chief’s fears that the Cambodian Muslims crossing into Thailand “might have been lured by the southern insurgents to take part in their activities.” [].