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September 25 , 2008

The Terrorist Threat from Thailand: Jihad or Quest for Justice?


Since January 2004 the violence in Thailand's southern provinces has claimed more than 4,600 lives. It has also adversely affected the local economy and overall quality of life there. An atmosphere of fear and intimidation is dividing the society along religious lines, and some experts are concerned about the possibility that this predominantly localized conflict might become absorbed into the global jihad.

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Counterterrorism experts Rohan Gunaratna and Arabinda Acharya provide a short history of the conflict, which dates to at least the early 1900s, as well as an analysis of factors contributing to the most recent escalation of violence in 2004. The authors shed light on the causes of the southern Thai conflict and unravel the complex diversity and linkages among the key Thai insurgent groups and individuals involved. They examine its potential to spread to neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Indonesia. In addition to analyzing the insurgents' capabilities and opportunities, the authors provide a critique of government policies and make astute suggestions for resolving the conflict.

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