Thailand’s prime minister said on Tuesday Islamic State (IS) had no links to his country. His statement comes after Egypt arrested a Thai student over suspected ties to the militant group.
The Thai student, identified as Aiproheng Malee 25 , was taken into custody by Egyptian authorities in Cairo. A video clip circulated online that showed him voicing support for an “Islamic revolution” in an interview.
Photos allegedly linked to Islamic State (IS) were also discovered on his mobile phone, the Thai embassy Facebook Page in Cairo stated. However, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha played down any IS links.
He has instructed relevant agencies to follow the case and provide assistance to the student.
“There has been constant monitoring and there are no links here with any foreign group,” Prayuth told Reuters.
“The Thai ambassador in Cairo has met with the Egyptian deputy foreign minister asking for help.
Egypt promised to follow up the case and cooperate with Thailand
The arrested student was previously studying in Sudan and moved to Egypt to continue his studies, said deputy prime minister Prawit Wongsuwan. The deputy PM also oversees security and intelligence agencies. Prawit added that there are currently no Islamic State (IS) activities in Thailand.
Thailand is predominantly Buddhist except in the three southern provinces of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat. These tree provinces are 80 percent Muslim. There are also pockets of Muslim communities in large Thai cities.
The three provinces, and a small part of neighboring Songkhla province, are notorious for insurgent attacks.
Those involved say the attacks have been mostly about separatism rather than a global Islamic State (IS) movement.
In 2015, Islamic State supporters in Thailand posted propaganda videos on the internet. – The first such videos produced by the militant group with Thai subtitles, a senior Thai security official told BenarNews.
While Thai officials have brushed off the threat of an IS presence in the country, officials in neighboring Malaysia and Indonesia have been warning about the group’s growing influence in recruiting local youths on their countries’ home soil.
Pro-IS videos have surfaced online that are clearly targeted toward audiences in those countries. Islamic State has its own Malay-speaking combat unit made up of Indonesian and Malaysian fighters.