BANGKOK – Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, has affirmed that investigations are being conducted into reports of Islamic State (IS) movement in Southern Thailand’s Narathiwat’s Sungai Kolok district.
Authorities are verifying the report that three suspects – Indonesian, Malaysian and Singapore nationals – gave donations to religious leaders at a mosque and asked that local students be taught about the ISIS.
Prayut declined to elaborate saying that would only help the perpetrators to escape. Moreover the government does not want to create panic among the people, the Bangkok Post reported.
Narathiwat Special Task Force 36 is investigating the matter but no arrests have been made, said Fourth Region Army Commander Lt. Gen. Wiwat Pathomphak.
Lt Gen Wiwat said no arrests have been made and some information needs to be kept confidential for security reasons, noting that issues surrounding the IS must be handled carefully.
Panitan Wattanayagorn, an adviser to Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, admitted intelligence suggested that a group of suspects with alleged links to the IS visited religious leaders in Sungai Kolok.
Authorities were investigating if the suspects just held normal talks with the religious leaders, or whether they tried to “convince” them, Mr Panitan said, adding that previously several “worrying” groups often met local religious leaders and security agencies had constantly monitored them.
So far, things that could pose concerns for Thailand had not yet been detected, Mr Panitan said.
He said neighbouring countries in Asean has also provided the government with information relating to individuals with suspected links to the IS and the government has enforced strict security measures to prevent them from entering the country.
A source said that previously a group of Shia Muslims tried to enter the three southern border provinces by offering their financial support to local mosques, although they were met with resistance from residents who oppose the use of violence.
A security source said chiefs of intelligence units under the Internal Security Operations Command met Thursday to discuss the matter. All intelligence units had confirmed no activities by IS-linked elements have been detected, the source said.
Deputy national police chief Pol Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul, who oversees security affairs, said Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan will meet with him Friday to discuss terrorism in the region and cooperation between the two countries to deal with the issue.
Police spokesman Detnarong Sutthichanbancha said no IS suspects were found in Narathiwat.