Thai Military Questions Suspected Militant Wanted by Malaysian Authorities

Matahari Ismail
Narathiwat, Thailand
2018-04-18
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180418-TH-ISOC4-1000.jpg Col. Pramote Prom-in, spokesman for Thailand’s Internal Security Operations Command Fourth Army Region, answers questions from reporters in the southern province of Pattani, near the border with Malaysia, April 18, 2017.
Matahari Ismail/BenarNews

A Thai national wanted by Malaysian authorities was released by military officials in the country’s Deep South after they determined he had no ties to militants including the Islamic State (IS), an army spokesman said Wednesday.

Awae Wae-Eya, the Thai national named by Malaysian authorities as a suspected militant, was questioned about his alleged ties, Col. Pramote Prom-in, spokesman for Thailand’s Internal Security Operations Command Fourth Army Region (ISOC 4), told reporters.

“Awae has nothing to do with domestic violence or IS. … He is just an armchair commando,” Pramote said, using a slang term for a person who is enthusiastic about military operations but has never been in gun battles.

Awae, 37, might have posted comments on pro-IS websites, but authorities decided to release him because he had no criminal record, Pramote said.

Investigators visited Awae at his residence in Narathiwat’s Cho I-rong district, not far from the border, and invited him for questioning at a military camp after Kuala Lumpur issued a statement saying he was among four suspected militants who had managed to escape recent police raids in the southern Malaysian state of Johor.

Malaysia’s Police Inspector-General Mohamad Fuzi Harun on Monday said Awae was among four suspected IS cell members, including three Malaysians, who planned bomb attacks at non-Muslim worship sites.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters in Bangkok on Wednesday that IS might have tried to reach out to prospective sympathizers in Thailand.

“[IS] has possibly tried to reach out to Thailand but … it would not go as far as to set up a branch here,” Prawit said. “They have a tendency to attack any country though.”

“We are closely monitoring any movements and are watchful of IS or terrorists, especially if the Deep South is to be targeted,” he said.

On Monday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told a defense forum that 389 people had been arrested in Malaysia since 2013 on suspicion of IS-linked activities. He said 34 of the 95 Malaysians known to have joined IS groups in Syria and Iraq had been killed in conflict zones.

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