NSC tracks regional terror gangs

NSC tracks regional terror gangs

Security beefed up ahead of festive period

CentralWorld mall in Ratchaprasong has ordered security guards to check the bags of Thais and tourists as part of a general step-up of security measures at tourist spots in Bangkok because of the Paris attacks. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
CentralWorld mall in Ratchaprasong has ordered security guards to check the bags of Thais and tourists as part of a general step-up of security measures at tourist spots in Bangkok because of the Paris attacks. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Thailand is working closely with Malaysia and Indonesia to monitor regional terrorist groups reportedly linked to the Islamic State (IS) group, according to the National Security Council (NSC). 

The IS carried out the attacks in Paris on Friday that killed 129 people.

NSC secretary-general Gen Thawip Netniyom said intelligence reports have suggested some terrorist groups in the region have links with the IS, such as Abu Sayyaf, Jemaah Islamiyah and al-Qaeda.

"But the intelligence community, including our neighbouring countries, insist no IS members have entered the southern border area of Thailand.

"However, we must take precautions and be on guard," Gen Thawip said.

"As far as I am concerned, there are no signs that violent groups in the southern border areas of Thailand will join the IS," he said.

He said the jihadis in the IS have a different approach to militant groups in the far South.

Many Muslims in the far South are opposed to the IS, believing its activities violate Islamic guidelines, he said.

The NSC chief said Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon had ordered comprehensive surveillance, including watching for any movements in the region of people linked to the IS and Uighurs.

Thai authorities are still holding 55 male Uighur illegal migrants, and have already sent 43 Uighur women and children to third-party countries including Turkey. Earlier, 109 male Uighurs were deported to China.

They were also checking the backgrounds of some other Uighurs here, and if they have clean records they will also be sent to third-party countries, Gen Thawip said.

Security agencies have been instructed to watch out for more illegal immigrants arriving, including Uighur and Rohingya, once the monsoon period ends, the NSC secretary-general said.

Gen Prawit said Tuesday he had instructed all relevant agencies to boost security during upcoming festivities including Loy Krathong and New Year's celebrations in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Security will also be stepped up during events scheduled for next month -- the "Bike for Dad" cycling event and the royally-sponsored cremation rites for the late Supreme Patriarch.

Security has also been heightened along all borders, particularly with Malaysia, as the government had earlier received reports of suspects in Malaysia with possible ties to the IS, said Gen Prawit.

Also on Tuesday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said that while it is necessary to step up security, authorities need to make sure the tight measures do not scare off tourists in the high season.

Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said the prime minister stressed the need to provide protection for tourists during the high season starting this month, with more tourist police deployed at major tourist spots and airports.

Police spokesman Pol Gen Dejnarong Suthicharnbancha said national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda had given the order to step-up security at foreign embassies, particularly the French embassy.

He had also ordered police intelligence units to look for more concrete information regarding the movements of terrorist groups.

Meanwhile, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his Thai counterpart Don Pramudwinai agreed on Monday to cooperate with the rest of the international community to combat terrorism in the wake of the deadly attacks in Paris as well as the Bangkok bombing in August.

"The international community should be united to resolutely condemn the terrorist acts," Mr Kishida was quoted by Japan's Foreign Ministry as telling Mr Don when they met on the sidelines of ministerial talks for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum in Manila.

Mr Kishida told reporters he also delivered similar messages when he met separately with Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion and during the Apec meeting.

He also conveyed a message to that effect during talks with Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, the ministry said.

In the wake of the Bangkok blasts, Mr Kishida called for Thailand to help ensure the safety of Japanese nationals in the country and protect and promote a good investment environment for Japanese firms. More than 60,000 Japanese live in Thailand and about 4,500 Japanese companies operate here, according to Japanese government data.

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