Although Thailand has never been the target of terrorist, the news about possible attacks by Al-Qaeda on US interest in the kingdom would have an adverse effect on the government's effort in continuing its peaceful engagement policy with the south Muslims.
Any threat by Al-Qaeda will put the Muslims under surveillance, and the possibility of an army onslaught and backlash on them cannot be discounted.
Should the attacks take place, the Muslims and Islam will be under askance all over again, just like the 9/11 attacks on New York World Trade Center about 12 years ago which made the US and its Western allies to review their 'treatment' on any Muslim entering or leaving their countries. Islam and Muslims were condemned as terrorist without mercy.
Even 2 years after 9/11, I was screened, question and had to undergo a thorough body check for almost two hours at the Chicago airport before granted entry. A letter from the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur didn't convince the airport security that I came as a guest to the mayor.
Security around the US consulate in the the northern city was beefed up since Sunday amid intelligence reports that Al-Qaeda was planning an attack on it this month. Public vehicles were also diverted a few hundred meters away.
Although Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra told reporters that Al-Qaeda will not be able to penetrate the security line, the people are worried as the most up-to-date security system in the US failed to detect the attacks on New York.
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubumrung refused to give details about the threats, but said the reinforced measures had been put in place since Feb 6 and will continue until the end of multinational military exercises, called Cobra Gold, on Sunday.In southern district of Pattani on Sunday, militant Muslim were accused of opening fire on the soldiers, killing five of them, and took away the dead soldiers' rifles, he said. One wounded soldier was rushed to a hospital.
”They are focusing on staging an attack during the Cobra Gold exercise,” Chalerm said. ”Some might have come to the country as tourists, but we have in-depth information and are definitely following them.”
Chalerm said that some of the groups’ members have fled Thailand after knowing that authorities had learned about their plots. ”Some of them remained here, but I believe they can’t carry out any attacks.”
The United States is among the seven nations participating in the exercises, which kicked off on Monday in Chiang Mai. The other countries involved are Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.
Chalerm said the reports came from domestic sources and were deemed ”dangerous.”
The six soldiers were on their way to guard a group of local farmers on their way to work.
'Insurgents' also set off a bomb on a road in Ra Ngae district in Narathiwat province and wounded four soldiers.
These developments would lead to Thailand engaging US and Nato army to paralyse the insurgents in the south as any attack by Al-Qaeda on the consulate or any US interests would provide them with a lame excuse to vent it on the Muslims.
To the Muslims, they have valid reason for fear!