4 Thais Freed, One Still Held in Pakistan Airport Arrest

By Nasueroh
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150611-TH-sister-620 Tuan-Habiya Logi (left), the sister of Tuan-Abdulrosa Logi, talks to BenarNews in Pattani, Thailand, June 11, 2015.

Pakistan has released four of five Thai Muslim students held since Monday on suspicion of trying to smuggle a handgun arm from Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore, but the owner of a bag with a pistol and ammunition in it remains in custody, Thai officials said Friday.

An initial investigation has found no connection between the students and the Islamic State (IS) or insurgents in southern Thailand, National Security Council Director-General Anusit Kunakorn told reporters in Bangkok.

“Today, four of them will return to Thailand … The owner of the luggage with the gun, who was from Pattani, remains under interrogation,” Anusit said.

“According to initial findings, we confirm that the students and their families have no connection with either IS or insurgents in the south.”

A more in-depth investigation would follow, he added.

“We will talk to them to try to find a clue on whether or not they have a connection [with those groups] at all,” Anusit added.

In past decades, Pakistan has been a “Mecca” for Muslims from Thailand’s predominantly Islamic Deep South region who travel to the South Asian nation to train for guerrilla warfare, according to a Thai military official who asked not to be named.

That history must be taken into account when investigating whether any of the students are involved with IS or southern insurgent networks, he told BenarNews.

Since 2004, more than 6,000 people have been killed in a separatist insurgency taking place in provinces and districts in Thailand’s far southern region, including Pattani.

Sheepskin box

According to reports, the five students were scheduled to depart for Bangkok on Monday aboard Thai Airways Flight 346. They were arrested after an X-ray at a security checkpoint revealed a 9-mm handgun and ammunition in the luggage of Tuan-abdulrosa Logi, 28.

The four released on Friday were identified as Sakriya Songlong, 18, Techit Boonmalert, 18, Abhisit Mad-ud, 17 and Farooq Sutog, 20.

Tuan-abdulrosa (pictured), a native of Pattani, remained in custody in Islamabad, Anusit told reporters.

Tuan- abdulrosa was studying at a religious school in Swabi, a district in Pakistan’s northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, according to his mother, Mariyae Muso.

His sister, Tuan-Habiya Logi, told BenarNews on Thursday that her brother had telephoned her before his scheduled departure on Monday to arrange a meeting in Songkhla province, 100 km (62 miles) north of his hometown in Pattani.

Her brother told her that a Pakistani religious teacher (ustaz) had given him a sheepskin box to pass on to a Thai ustaz, she said. Tuan-Habiya said she believed that her brother didn’t know that a pistol and ammo were in the box.

Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan, Thailand’s deputy prime minister and defense minister, told reporters he did not believe the students were involved in terrorism, despite concerns that IS might try to recruit Thai Muslims.

“We have long feared students might be indoctrinated. I don’t prematurely believe they have anything to do with IS, but we need to clear it up through an investigation,” Prawit said.

“I don’t understand why he [attempted to bring] a gun onboard despite prohibitions. I cannot tell but we need time to investigate,” Prawit said.

Puangpetch Sisutcharit contributed to this report.


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