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06BANGKOK5204 CAR BOMB DISCOVERED NEAR PRIME MINISTER’S RESIDENCE

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“76024”,”8/24/2006 11:18″,”06BANGKOK5204″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”06BANGKOK4610|06BANGKOK5158″,

“VZCZCXRO9691

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #5204/01 2361118

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 241118Z AUG 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1172

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY

RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 2905

RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 8266

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 5985

RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 2029

RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 4072

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L

SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 005204

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP, EAP/MLS

PACOM FOR FPA (HUSO)

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/22/2016

TAGS: ASEC, PINS, MOPS, PGOV, TH

SUBJECT: CAR BOMB DISCOVERED NEAR PRIME MINISTER\’S RESIDENCE

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 5158

B. BANGKOK 4610

 

Classified By: DCM Alexander A. Arvizu. Reason 1.4 (b)

 

1. (C) Summary: On August 24, Police defused a large car bomb

in the neighborhood of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra\’s

residence and arrested an Army Lieutenant who works for a

controversial retired Army Major General, Panlop Pinmanee.

General Panlop has been dismissed from his position as Deputy

Director for the Internal Security Operation Command (ISOC).

Thaksin called an immediate meeting of top military and

police officials. Officials at the Ministry of Defense (MOD)

appeared surprised by news of the arrest during a meeting

with JUSMAG. Some sources speculate that the story is a

set-up to gain sympathy for the PM, or even to provide an

excuse for him to declare a state of emergency; this would

enable him to clamp down on protest and opposition activity.

We do not rule out the possibility of an assassination plot

against the PM, but elements of this alleged assassination

attempt raise obvious questions. End Summary

 

2. (C) At approximately 0830 in the morning on August 24,

police discovered containers packed with urea fertilizer,

fuel oil, and dynamite sticks in a car in the neighborhood of

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawtra\’s residence, along the

normal route of his motorcade. (According to some reports,

the PM\’s security detail had contacted police and asked them

to locate a vehicle that they had seen acting suspiciously.)

A Police EOD team defused the explosive device with a water

cannon. They provided RSO with a description of the bomb.

They reported that the back seat and the truck of the car

contained about 60 kgs of anfo (ammonium nitrate fertilizer

and fuel oil), several pounds of TNT and C4, detonation cord

and a remote detonator. They told RSO that the bomb would

have caused damage for an estimated one square kilometer.

Thai Army Lieutenant Thawatchai Klinchana, the car\’s owner,

was arrested, apparently returning to the car to move it from

the parking space. Police speculate that the car was parked

along the normal route PM Thaksin travels in the morning.

They say that Thaksin left earlier than expected this

morning. Therefore, driver may gotten to the site too late,

and returned to move the car to a safer location. An Army

contact confirmed to Emboffs that Lt. Thawatchai worked as a

driver/security guard for Internal Security Operation Command

(ISOC) Deputy Director Major General (ret.) Panlop Pinmanee.

Press reports and military contacts say that General Panlop

was immediately dismissed from ISOC. Panlop denied any

involvement in an attempt on the PM\’s life, saying, \”You know

me. If I were behind it, I would not have missed.\” (Comment:

Although the military is polarized over the PM (ref B),

Panlop has not been identified by anyone as an anti-Thaksin

activist. On the contrary, he is widely reported to be close

to Thaksin. Further background on Panlop is in para 5.)

 

3. (C) JUSMAGCHIEF was attending a briefing at MOD with

senior Thai military officials when an aide, carrying a

police mug shot of LT Thawatchai, entered the room to notify

Permanent Secretary General Sirichai Thanyasiri about the

arrest. Sirichai excused himself to brief Defense Minister

GEN Thammarak Isarangura Na Ayutthaya. MOD officials

appeared agitated on hearing about the possible bombing

attempt. There was no indication that the officers present

had foreknowledge of the incident. A few minutes later,

General Thammarak left MOD in a motorcade to go to Government

House. According to media reports, Thaksin summoned the top

military and police leadership to an urgent meeting at

Government House.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

4. (C) Many of our contacts are expressing skepticism about

the story, and are concerned that the whole incident may have

been fabricated to gain Thaksin sympathy, or even to give him

an excuse to declare a state of emergency in Bangkok, to

clamp down on political and protest activity against him

which has dominated recent headlines. \”Planting\” a large

bomb seems like an extreme measure, but Thaksin is fighting

for his political life. According to press reports, the

 

BANGKOK 00005204 002 OF 002

 

deputy Thai Rak Thai spokesman was quoted noting the

connection of General Panlop to anti-Thaksin activist, former

General Chamlong (a military academy classmate), as well as

to former Democrat Party head Chuan Leekphai. We certainly

don\’t rule out the possibility that there could be an

assassination plot against the controversial PM, or even that

some military officers could be involved. However, there are

some aspects of the story that don\’t seem to make sense.

There does not seem to be any reason for General Panlop, or

for the driver arrested, to take the lead in such an

assassination attempt. The bomb would have caused damage in

such a wide area, with a possibility of many civilian

casualties — something that seems out of character for the

military. Nonetheless, we believe that our police EOD

sources (who were trained by ATA and in the US) have honestly

reported to us what they found. This will certainly have a

very serious, and probably very negative effect, on the

efforts to resolve the political crisis. END COMMENT

 

BACKGROUND – MAJ. GENERAL (RET.) PANLOP PINMANEE

——————————————— —

 

5. (C) Major General (ret.) Panlop achieved notoriety

following the April 28, 2004 Krue Se Mosque incident. Panlop

was the officer in charge at the Mosque when Muslim militants

barricaded themselves inside after attacking a nearby

military checkpoint. Panlop ignored a direct order from

then-Deputy Prime Minister Chawalit Yongchaiyudh to surround

the Mosque but not attack. Panlop ordered a Special Forces

team into the historic Mosque; 31 militants were killed in

the raid. Following the incident – which was widely

criticized by human rights groups – Chavalit fired Panlop

from his military command, but PM Thaksin allowed him to keep

his position in ISOC. Panlop has been involved in other

controversial actions. He was part of a group of \”young

Turks\” in the military who staged a failed coup d\’etat during

the 1980s against then-Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda.

Panlop is well known within the military as having hawkish

views, and he has urged a harsh crackdown on militants in

southern Thailand.

 

BOYCE

 

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 5:26 am

Posted in Confidential, Thaksin

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