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10BANGKOK147 SOUTHERN THAILAND: JUNE 2009 MOSQUE SHOOTING SUSPECT TURNS SELF IN

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“244093”,”1/19/2010 10:05″,

 

“10BANGKOK147″,”Embassy Bangkok”,

 

“CONFIDENTIAL”,”09BANGKOK1508″,”VZCZCXRO1588

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DE RUEHBK #0147/01 0191005

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

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FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9606

INFO RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY

RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS

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RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0314

RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 6110

RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 2242

RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0267

RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 7515″,

 

“C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 000147

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR WALTON

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/18/2020

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, PINR, PREL, PTER, TH

SUBJECT: SOUTHERN THAILAND: JUNE 2009 MOSQUE SHOOTING

SUSPECT TURNS SELF IN

 

REF: 09 BANGKOK 1508 (JUNE 8 MOSQUE ATTACK)

 

BANGKOK 00000147 001.2 OF 002

 

Classified By: DCM JAMES F. ENTWISTLE, REASON 1.4 (B) AND (D)

 

1. (SBU) Summary: Sutthirak Kongsuwan, the prime suspect in

the June 8, 2009 shooting at the Al Furqon mosque in

Narathiwat, turned himself into Thai police on January 14

after months of pressure from Democrat Party politicians on

security forces for progress in the case. Authorities

announced that Sutthirak is wanted in two additional

shootings which took place in late 2008, linked to the same

weapon via ballistics analysis. Police suspect four other

people were also involved in the shooting — which killed ten

and has hampered reconciliation efforts in the South — but

only two arrest warrants have been issued. Thai authorities

have not yet announced a timeline for legal procedures

against Sutthirak.

 

2. (C) Comment: Democrat MPs worried about their prospects in

the deep south in the next general election provided

political pressure for progress in the mosque shooting,

according to various insider accounts. Although some

observers will be quick to hail this development as a

significant step towards accountability and reconciliation in

the south, Sutthirak\’s detention alone does not necessarily

herald an improvement in the southern situation. How the

Royal Thai Government (RTG) approaches the prosecution of

Sutthirak\’s case, in conjunction with pursuit of the other

suspects in the case, will prove more significant than the

actual arrest itself. The Malay Muslim population in the

South has been very patient over the last seven months

regarding this case, adopting a wait and see attitude.

Sutthirak\’s surrender alone appears to have accomplished

little in changing local perceptions of unequal justice, but

a conviction would help begin to chip away at the deeply

seeded mistrust in the south. End Summary and Comment.

 

ALLEGED SHOOTER TURNS SELF IN

—————————–

 

3. (C) On January 14, Sutthirak Kongsuwan, the former

paramilitary ranger who police say led the attack on the Al

Furqon mosque in Narathiwat Province on June 8, turned

himself into police in Narathiwat. Sutthirak was also wanted

on two other warrants related to two murders in Narathiwat in

late 2008; ballistics linked the three attacks to a single

AK-47 and to him, according to Police Maj. Gen. Saritchai

Venakavieng, head of investigations for Region Four, based in

Yala. Saritchai told us in August that although six people

participated in the attack that killed ten and wounded 12,

the police only had sufficient evidence to issue arrest

warrants for two – Sutthirak and Lukman Latehbuering.

Lukman, a Malay Muslim and the alleged spotter and getaway

driver for the attack, remains in hiding.

 

4. (C) Police MGEN Surachai Suebsuk, commander of the

Narathiwat Provincial Police, told us in October there was

insufficient evidence to issue warrants for the remaining

three suspects; one person connected to the case apparently

committed suicide in the interim. MGEN Saritchai told us in

August that of the five weapons used in the mosque shooting

— two M-16s, two shotguns, and one AK-47 — ballistics

results positively tied the AK-47 to Suttirak and the 2008

murders.

 

WHERE HAS HE BEEN FOR SEVEN MONTHS?

———————————–

 

5. (C) Press reports noted that Sutthirak was an ex-ranger

(in Thai: thahan phran) who had been dismissed after

allegations that he was involved in a drug case. His alleged

affiliation with current security forces, and his whereabouts

in the interim, is a matter of some dispute. Sutthirak was

an active member of the Village Protection Volunteers (also

known by their Thai acronym, Or Ror Bor), an armed

neighborhood watch-style program organized by Deputy Royal

Aide-de-Camp GEN Naphol Boonthap under the auspices of Queen

 

BANGKOK 00000147 002.2 OF 002

 

Sirikit, many of our interlocutors on the South claimed to us

in the months since the mosque attack. However, MGEN

Saritchai disputed this charge in August, asserting that

Sutthirak was not an Or Ror Bor member but had enjoyed

military protection because of his status as an informant.

 

6. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, a reporter for The

Nation newspaper with excellent southern connections and

regular Embassy contact, told us January 19 that his sources

alleged that five of the six suspects were detained by police

shortly after the shooting, but that GEN. Naphol intervened

to have them released from police custody and then moved them

to a safehouse in Bangkok. Police officials in Narathiwat,

however, told us January 19 that they had no information

about the suspects being held by police.

 

7. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, a reporter

for the Thai-language XXXXXX based in Hat Yai, alleged to

us in December that Sutthirak had been protected by the

military after the shooting and stayed at Chulaphorn Camp in

Narathiwat Province after his involvement became known.

 

INSURGENTS NOT AS PATIENT AS LOCAL CITIZENS?

——————————————–

 

8. (C) In October 2009, insurgents issued bounties for the

six people presumed associated with the Al Furqon mosque

attack. The leaflets included information such as home

addresses and national ID card numbers, information that

Narathiwat MGEN Surachai claimed to us at the time was leaked

from the local police station. The insurgents placed a price

of one million baht (US$30,400) on Sutthirak and bounties of

500,000 baht (US$15,200) for five other people, including

Lukman.

 

9. (C) Hajji Abdullozak Ali, the Chairman of the Narathiwat

Islamic Committee, told us in August that Muslims in

Narathiwat were willing to give Thai authorities time to

resolve the case, but noted that insurgents had warned him

that they would not accept the arrest of a scapegoat.

Phaisan Toyib, president of the Islamic Private School

Association in Narathiwat, said that southern residents were

willing to be patient with Thai authorities as they worked on

this case, but added that they expected the law to be fairly

and justly applied. Phaisan also said that most people in

Narathiwat thought the shooting was an act of revenge and not

officially sanctioned by the Thai Government.

 

10. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, a researcher for

XXXXXXXXX who has excellent contacts with security

forces as well as within the insurgent movement, told us

January 15 that insurgents did not react positively to the

news of Sutthirak\’s surrender. Elder members of the Barisan

Revolusi Nasional (National Revolutionary Front, or BRN)

indicated that the government lacked sincerity in dealing

with the Malay Muslims and that they would not call off

insurgent attacks in the wake of Sutthirak\’s surrender.

XXXXX also expressed doubt to us that, even if the Attorney

General\’s Office presented the case to the court, it would be

handled in a timely manner.

JOHN

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Written by thaicables

June 23, 2011 at 2:49 am

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