BANGKOK – Counter-terrorism cooperation with Thailand remained strong. Thailand engaged with the United States on investigations into Hizballah and Iranian activities after incidents involving both occurred in January and February. On January 12, Thai police detained a Hizballah operative on immigration charges as he was attempting to depart Thailand from Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
He led police to nearly 10,000 pounds of urea-based fertilizer and 10 gallons of liquid ammonium nitrate in a commercial building about 20 miles south of Bangkok. It was unclear if the materials were intended to be used to carry out terrorist attacks in Thailand – possibly against Israeli tourists – or if they were to be transported to another country. The Hizballah operative was awaiting trial at year’s end.
On February 14, Thai police arrested two Iranian men after they accidentally set off explosives that were allegedly intended to target Israeli diplomats. A third Iranian was arrested in Malaysia and was awaiting extradition to Thailand at year’s end. Two other Iranians successfully fled Thailand. All the operatives traveled in and out of Bangkok through Malaysia; two of them may have traveled from Malaysia to Thailand through the land border at least once. The bombs were similar to bombs targeting Israeli diplomats in Georgia and India during that same week.
There was no direct evidence of operational linkages between the southern Thai insurgent groups and international terrorist networks.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The porous nature of Thailand’s southern border with Malaysia remained an issue of concern. At the same time, cross-border law enforcement cooperation, based on long association between Thai and Malaysian police officers, remained strong. With support from the United States, Thailand continued to use the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) border security system at five airports and four land border stations until June. In June, the Thai government replaced PISCES with the Personal Identification and Blacklist Immigration Control System (PIBICS) – an information capture and query system designed for the Thai Immigration Bureau – at eight points of entry, except Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, for a three month trial evaluation. Thailand continued to participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Thailand is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Thailand’s 2010-2015 National Strategy for Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism was developed by the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO), Thailand’s official Financial Intelligence Unit. The strategy called for the legislative enactment of key counterterrorist finance measures by October 31, 2012; however, widespread flooding and political transitions delayed the passage of legislation.
In 2010, the Thai government expressed high-level political commitment to addressing deficiencies that the FATF identified in Thailand’s anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism regime, and reported taking multiple steps to address FATF recommendations. Thailand’s failure to pass the amended Anti-Money Laundering Act and the draft bill of Anti-Financing of Terrorist prompted the FATF, in February 2012, to downgrade Thailand to its ‘blacklist’ of countries, raising concern about financial transactions in Thailand. Since then, Thailand has passed the legislation and will be considered by the FATF for removal from the blacklist from its enhanced monitoring process in June 2013, pending a successful completion of the on-site visit.
The AMLO’s 2010-2015 National Strategy for Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism specifically calls for enhanced measures to provide for greater transparency and oversight of non-profit organizations by December 2014. More specifically, the 2010-2015 National Strategy calls for implementation of appropriate licensing procedures, supervision, monitoring, and oversight in line with international standards. This includes ensuring that information on the operations of each non-profit organization is publicly available. The Bank of Thailand does not have regulations that give it explicit authorization to control charitable donations; however, the Financial Institutions Business Act and the Electronic Payment Services Business Decree require all financial institutions and non-bank service providers to adopt both know-your-customer rules and customer due diligence procedures for all clients, and must meet the Anti-Money Laundering Act’s reporting requirements, which would include transactions deriving from charitable donations.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Thailand participated in international counterterrorism efforts, including through APEC, ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum, the Asia-Europe Meeting, and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral, Technical, and Economic Cooperation. Thailand, along with the U.S. Pacific Command, co-hosted 11 countries for the annual Pacific Area Security Sector Working Group.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: A range of Thai government agencies, including the Southern Border Provincial Administration Center and the Internal Security Operations Command, continued to organize outreach programs to ethnic Malay-Muslims to counter radicalization and violent extremism. A small group of international NGOs also reached out to communities in the southern provinces to provide services and to identify the underlying causes of the area’s violence.
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