Thailand Pursuing Mujahid from Facebook Video


2015.03.04
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TH-video-folo-620 Bomb squad members inspect the site of a twin bomb blast and a shoot-out in Thailand's restive Pattani province, March 3, 2015.
AFP

The Thai military says it has shut down a video posted on Facebook by a suspected Islamist who threatened to expel non-Muslims from Thailand’s Deep South region by the end of April.

Authorities are still looking for the lone speaker in the video, whom they identified as Tonkusai Rebat at a news conference in Pattani province on Wednesday (March 4).

He is a former student at an Islamic school in southern Thailand and an active student at Ramkhamhaeng University in Bangkok, Col. Pramote Prom-in, spokesman for Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) Region 4, Forward, told reporters.

But authorities said they were not sure this was his real name. It was also likely that the masked man in the menacing 1:49-minute video was lying about his claim of being a descendent of Prophet Muhammad, Pramote said.

“Sympathizing elements and organizations in the areas use social networks to distort the facts, and I forewarn people at the receiving end to carefully consider the merit of the message, and don’t fall victim to be part of (violence),” he said.

“The ISOC 4 continues to adhere to a peaceful solution … fair enforcement of laws, and respect [for] human rights, and is pushing forward for peace talks for the Deep South.”

The authorities will catch the man and bring him to justice, the ISOC regional spokesman added.

In the video disseminated via Facebook on Monday, the speaker called himself a member of the Mujahideen Rebat al-Fatani, which would “expel the intruding non-Muslims (Kafir) in order to establish [Patani] Darussalam” by April 30.

The man’s Facebook page has since been taken down, Pramote said.

Since 2004, Thai forces have battled separatists in the Muslim-dominated Deep South, which is made up of three provinces near the Malaysian border.

Military: Be Wary of Social Media

The military also warned the public to be wary of extremist messages posted via social media, because these distort the truth and undermine national security.

Commenting on the issue, one expert on the restive Deep South said there was no evidence that international terrorist groups were linked to any regional separatist movements.

“However, there will be some who will try raising their leverage by enticing the public,” said Lt. Gen. (Retired) Nanthadej Meksawat, former chief of Southern Special Operations.

“Other than that, I would take the man with a grain of salt,” he said, referring to the self-proclaimed member of Mujahideen Rebat al-Fatani.

Ruslan Sala, a native of Pattani, told BenarNews in Muang District, “I don’t believe that the man represents a movement in the southern Thai areas, and I don’t believe in the essence of the video. To expel Thai officials and Buddhist Thais by April 30 is impossible.”

Tonkusai’s remark referring to Prophet Muhammad is insulting to Islam, he added.

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