Matt Pratten

Matt Pratten

Associate Analyst

04/10/2017

04/10/2017

Thailand Fortnightly Snapshot: Update on the Insurgency

Topics: Military & Police (Insurgents & Terrorist Groups)

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Contrary to previous analysis, it has been CONFIRMED there are more than two insurgent groups operating in the provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla. What remains unknown is who these groups specifically belong to. However, it could POTENTIALLY be said that – based on the statements made by Pak Fakih, his knowledge of incidents in these parts of Thailand and statement that the policy of the BRN not claiming responsibility for attacks would continue – these numerous groups are part of the BRN. These groups intend to continue their attacks with the desired end-state of establishing an independent state.
The changing nature of attacks which have been carried out across the provinces since 24 JUL 2017 indicate that all the insurgent groups in the South-East are PROBABLY becoming much more effective in carrying out attacks to cause casualties; through combining their small arms and IEDs into “Complex Attacks.”
INTRODUCTION
Previous analysis written on 24 JUL 2017 on insurgents in the South-East reporting region assessed the insurgency in Southern Thailand shows no signs of ceasing for the time being. Comparing these groups to incidents in the wider region, these two groups in Southern Thailand do not appear to have similar interests as groups in the Philippines or Indonesia. The lack of statements, claims of responsibility, demands or intentions makes it difficult to identify them (Pratten, 2017g).
However, based on comparing the incidents since 01 May 2017 to previous reports and what has been occurring around the region recently, two groups appear to be active in the South-East. Group 1 is POSSIBLY a part of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional – or BRN. Their attacks have been indiscriminate. However, the group appears to be limited to small arms attacks at the moment due to what appears to be the loss of their bomb-maker. Group 2 is POTENTIALLY part of the Runda Kumpilan Kecil – or RKK. However, this is based on the lack of response to their operations by security forces in Narathiwat. This group will PROBABLY ensure Narathiwat – like Pattani – will be an area to avoid by continuing to carry out IED attacks against police and army personnel in the form of pipe bombs and stationary motorcycles with explosives strapped to them (Pratten, 2017g).
Since 24 JUL 2017, incidents surrounding insurgent activities have continued in the South-East of Thailand along with the absence of claims of responsibility for attacks; making it very difficult to identify whether attacks are carried out by the BRN, RKK or a combination of the two. The imagery and table below display the incidents in the South-East logged on the Intelligence Fusion platform. What has been noticeable since July 2017 are decreases in Bombing attacks with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), decreases in Direct Weapon attacks with small arms weaponry but an increase in Suicide/Complex Attacks.
The changes in types of attacks occurring are not the only ones either. Among the incidents logged there have been revelations about the membership and organisation of insurgent groups across the South-East. This Snapshot report aims to provide an update on what is known about the Size, Activities, Locations, Uniforms, Tactics, Equipment, Habits, Intentions and Morale – SALUTE HIM – of insurgent groups in the South-East of the country and analyse what this means for the South-East and the rest of Thailand.
SIZE
(Click on above image to expand)
Over the past two months, reports have mentioned several groups behind attacks in the South-East of Thailand. However, these groups are unable to be identified as BRN or RKK. What has been discernible are the locations of insurgents and where they operate. Reports used for logging incidents on the Intelligence Fusion platform have revealed there are six groups – as opposed to two – operating in the South-East. They would appear to stick to districts based on the data used for the above chart.
COMMENT. Groups based on districts would explain the differences in tactics which were identified in the previous Snapshot on insurgents in Southern Thailand (Pratten, 2017g). Another noticeable detail is the Songkhla-based groups. While they were heavily involved in the VBIED raids, there has been little activity in Songkhla province in the way of IEDs or other attacks. COMMENT ENDS.
All these groups do not appear to have a clearly defined leader they answer to as yet. The feature of a man named Pak Fakih from the BRN came about in an interview. He said the current peace talks with other factions were doomed and the government must drop pre-conditions, show greater respect to the separatists and adopt a more open-minded approach. Pak Fakih told the media that "our attacks are confined to the Deep South and are about sending a signal to the Thai government. We never want to cause widespread harm." He added the policy of not claiming responsibility for attacks would continue as well (Pratten, 2017h).
COMMENT. Pak Fakih is reportedly a 67-year-old member of the BRN; being involved for many years. His age and length of involvement would indicate he could have a level of control over insurgent groups. His statement about the BRN continuing to remain silent on whether it has carried out the attacks or not would provide a confirmation of sorts. By saying the previous policy would continue, it could provide a confirmation that the attacks are being carried out by the BRN. COMMENT ENDS.
ACTIVITIES
The activities undertaken by insurgents focus on IEDs, Complex Attacks, Robberies and Small Arms attacks. Their activities are concentrated in Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala provinces (Deep South Watch, 2017, McCabe and Harrington, 2017, Pratten, 2017a, Pratten, 2017c, Pratten, 2017d, Pratten, 2017e, Pratten, 2017f, Pratten, 2017h). Major activities carried out by insurgent groups include:
· 05 AUG 2017: A series of IED attacks in Pattani and Narathiwat
· 10 AUG 2017: A complex attack on Thai Rangers in Chanae District, Narathiwat
· 16-17 AUG 2017: The Songkhla VBIED raids and VBIED attack in Mayo district, Pattani
· 14 SEP 2017: Complex attack kills 2, wounds over 20 in Yala
· 23 SEP 2017: A complex attack in Pattani
LOCATIONS
The groups displayed in the ‘SIZE’ chart appear to be quite mobile within their respective provinces/districts.
In addition to the location and areas of operation for the groups, reports used for logging incidents have shown that the area between Thepa district in Songkhla and Nong Chik district in Pattani – pictured below – is used frequently as a staging area to assemble IEDs; including the VBIED raids (The Nation, 2017).
(Click on above image to expand)
UNIFORMS
No change – these groups do not have uniforms
TACTICS
Since 24 JUL 2017, insurgents have not necessarily added new tactics to their operations but have been able to make their current tactics much more sophisticated. They have successfully combined their small arms attacks and IED attacks into what is known as a ‘Complex Attack;’ an IED is detonated to cause casualties/slow down the target and then follow up with small arms fire. Insurgents throughout Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala have been able to carry out these attacks. The most effective and well-planned ones however have been in Yala and Narathiwat provinces. An example of these complex attacks is shown below from the attack on Thai Rangers in Chanae District, Narathiwat on 09 AUG 2017 (Pratten, 2017a).
(Click on above image to expand)
Insurgents in Yala have even been able to go one step further and add a “come on” action that has previously been done in Sungai Golok district, Narathiwat. A “come on” – shown below – is an action which is designed to force a reaction by an adversary or force them to take a particular route, drawing
the target onto ground of the attacker’s choosing which increases the chances of causing casualties (Pratten, 2017f).
On 14 SEP 2017, insurgents managed to kill 2 and wound over 20 with a series of IED attacks. The insurgents began with detonating a 15kg IED on a power pole in Ban Lalae, Kabang district; this forced a response by Thai security forces. As they proceeded to the site, they were struck by an IED and fired upon for a short period of time. As the site was being investigated by Explosive Ordnance Disposal, another IED detonated, causing the two dead and several more wounded.
(Click on above image to expand)
While Narathiwat and Yala provinces have had the most well-planned and effective attacks, insurgents in Pattani recently had success with conducting a complex attack in Sai Buri district. While it’s a Complex Attack based on a technicality of featuring small arms fire, the IED was successful in killing four Thai Rangers. The insurgents appeared to have utilised an area where roadworks were being carried out, forcing the Thai Rangers to slow their vehicle down – see imagery below (Pratten, 2017c).
(Click on above image to expand)
Finally, the VBIED raids that occurred in Songkhla for attacks in Pattani have shown that these groups are able to pool resources and manpower and effectively coordinate their efforts across districts and provinces to carry out large scale attacks which can cause significant damage. IN the case of the VBIED raids, what prevented many of the VBIEDs reaching their targets was many of the vehicles running out of fuel.
These VBIED raids were not the first large scale attack which had been carried out. Prior to the VBIED raids, insurgents had been able to carry out an IED attack on the Big C Shopping Centre in Pattani back in May 2017. (Pratten, 2017e, Pratten, 2017g).
EQUIPMENT
Little has changed in the way of equipment. Since 24 JUL 2017, attacks carried out by insurgents have featured the use of RCIED consisting of radios as the transmitter/receiver attached to a main charge made from an LPG gas tank between 15-20kg fitted with explosives. These can also be placed within vehicles; pickup trucks appear to be a favourite due to their load capacity. There have also been the motorcycles fitted with explosives but these have been reducing since a registration initiative has been undertaken in Narathiwat.
However, there does appear to be a new main charge emerging; the use of air conditioner cylinders/tanks. So far, two of these have been found; one was a hoax IED in Hat Yai, Songkhla province while another was a main charge found in Surkhin district, Narathiwat. Interestingly, this IED was not set to detonate but based on the IED condition and location it was found – see imagery below – it was in a cache (Pratten, 2017b).
(Click on above image to expand)
HABITS
Utilising the overview of incidents across the South-East since 24 JUL 2017 – pictured below – some broad habits have been able to be identified. The insurgent groups within Pattani appear to carry out attacks as frequently as they can. The effectiveness varies but these groups appear to prefer keeping active.
Insurgent groups in Yala and Narathiwat appear to be the opposite; Yala based insurgents especially. These groups would appear to prefer to attack on a less frequent basis. While they do not have the same tempo as Pattani based insurgents, their attacks show a much higher level of planning. The complex attack carried in Chanae district for example, was very similar to a military style ambush.
INTENTIONS
Whether the insurgent groups are BRN or RKK, the overall aim of the insurgents in the South-East appears to remain the same – to secede from Thailand and form an independent state; a cause which began from the refusal by the Thai government to recognise those living in these South-East provinces as an ethnic minority (Fevrier, 2017).
The groups in these provinces intend to achieve this end-state through the continuation of an armed insurgency. Through weakening the ability of the Thai government to run these areas effectively through carrying out complex attacks, IED attacks, small arms attacks and shootings but never taking any responsibility or credit for them.
However, reporting on the 15 SEP 2017 indicated that the BRN would be willing to negotiate with the Thai government but – according to Pak Fakih – it must drop pre-conditions, show greater respect to the separatists and adopt a more open-minded approach.
MORALE
Morale has been difficult to gauge at the moment. While there have been a number of successful attacks or incidents which have captured attention, Thai security forces have been able to respond quickly; making arrests or killing insurgents while attempting to arrest them.
ASSESSMENT
Contrary to previous analysis, it has been CONFIRMED there are more than two insurgent groups operating in the provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla. What remains unknown is who these groups specifically belong to. However, it could POTENTIALLY be said that – based on the statements made by Pak Fakih, his knowledge of incidents in these parts of Thailand and statement that the policy of the BRN not claiming responsibility for attacks would continue – these numerous groups are part of the BRN. These groups intend to continue their attacks with the desired end-state of establishing an independent state.
The changing nature of attacks which have been carried out across the provinces since 24 JUL 2017 indicate that all the insurgent groups in the South-East are PROBABLY becoming much more effective in carrying out attacks to cause casualties; through combining their small arms and IEDs into “Complex Attacks.” The increases in these attacks and the successes make it PROBABLE future attacks carried out in the South-East will consist of complex attacks rather than small arms attacks or IED attacks on their own, featuring another POSSIBLE attempt at a large-scale attack in Pattani before the end of the year.
Utilising IEDs as a “come-on,” insurgents will detonate an IED to force security forces to go to investigate, enabling the insurgents to draw security forces onto ground of their own choosing to carry out the actual attack; an IED followed up by small arms fire. These future complex attacks will POSSIBLY begin to cause higher amounts of casualties as their use improves.
The IEDs in these complex attacks will POSSIBLY begin to feature a main charge consisting of air conditioner cylinders with explosives attached to them rather than the LPG gas tanks which have been a favourite. These kinds of attacks will PROBABLY be more effective in Yala and Narathiwat provinces.
References
DEEP SOUTH WATCH. 2017. Summary of Incidents in Southern Thailand, August 2017 [Online]. Pattani: Deep South Watch,. Available: http://www.deepsouthwatch.org/sites/default/files/datasheet_2017_08_en.pdf [Accessed 02 October 2017].
FEVRIER, V. 2017. Southern Thailand: Instability in Patani, a Threat to the Greater Region. Intelligence Fusion [Online], 2017. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/05/16/Southern-Thailand-Instability-in-Patani-a-Threat-to-the-Greater-Region [Accessed 16 May 2017].
MCCABE, M. & HARRINGTON, D. 2017. Intelligence Fusion Platform [Online]. London: Ambix. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/ [Accessed 12 August 2017].
PRATTEN, M. 2017a. Post Incident Report: Complex Attack On Thai Rangers In Chanae District, Narathiwat. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/08/10/Post-Incident-Report-Complex-Attack-On-Thai-Rangers-In-Chanae-District-Narathiwat [Accessed 12 August 2017].
PRATTEN, M. 2017b. Post Incident Report: IED Found and Defused in Surkhin District, Narathiwat. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/09/28/Post-Incident-Report-IED-found-and-defused-in-Surkhin-District-Narathiwat [Accessed 01 Ocotber 2017].
PRATTEN, M. 2017c. Post Incident Report: Pattani Complex Attack. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/09/25/Post-Incident-Report-Pattani-Complex-Attack [Accessed 25 September 2017].
PRATTEN, M. 2017d. Post Incident Report: Shooting Spree in Pattani Province, Thailand. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/07/25/Post-Incident-Report-Shooting-Spree-in-Pattani-Province-Thailand [Accessed 26 July 2017].
PRATTEN, M. 2017e. Post Incident Report: Songkhla VBIED Raids and Pattani Car Bombing. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/08/18/Post-Incident-Report-Songkhla-VBIED-Raids-and-Pattani-Car-Bombing [Accessed 19 August 2017].
PRATTEN, M. 2017f. Post Incident Report: Southern Thailand IED Attacks. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/08/03/Southern-Thailand-IED-Attacks---Post-Incident-Report-Analysis [Accessed 03 August 2017].
PRATTEN, M. 2017g. Thailand Fortnightly Snapshot: Armed Conflict in Thailand. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/07/24/Thailand-Fortnightly-Snapshot-Armed-Conflict-in-Thailand [Accessed 24 July 2017].
PRATTEN, M. 2017h. Weekly Intelligence Report: Monitoring in Thailand - 18 September 2017. Thailand [Online], 16 September 2017. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/09/17/Weekly-Intelligence-Report-Monitoring-in-Thailand [Accessed 18 September 2017].
THE NATION. 2017. Coordinated Pickup Truck Thefts Show New Insurgent Tactic. The Nation [Online]. Available: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30324131 [Accessed 01 October 2017].
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