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Thailand Weekly Intelligence Report

Date: 27 November 2017
Monitoring Period: 00:00, 18 NOV 2017 to 23:59hrs 24 NOV 2017 (GMT+8)

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Overall, this week has seen a higher level of activity than usual in Thailand. Combined with last week, November has seen the highest number of incidents occur in Thailand and the highest number of incidents per day since closer monitoring began in May 2017. At this point in time though, these incidents appear to be an increased level of the status quo â âCrime,â âHazardsâ and âOtherâ â and do not pose any concern to Thailandâs overall stability.
Considering the overall number of incidents, their locations and the weather forecasts, it is PROBABLE that next week there will be a continuation of the same; although there is a POTENTIAL chance of flooding in the South-East â mainly Pattaya â in addition to the POTENTIAL for more provinces in the South to experience similar conditions to what has been seen in Prachuap Khiri Khan and Phetchaburi. If floods continue in Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan as well as additional provinces in the South, it is POSSIBLE roads connecting the South to Bangkok will be flooded and thus limit road access.
INTRODUCTION

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This Intelligence Report aims to display all the incidents that have occurred during the past week in Thailand, expand on the key incidents and analyse what it means for the country. Over this period there have been 63 incidents throughout Thailand which have been logged on the Intelligence Fusion platform; an increase from last week. The increase has seen the rate of incidents per day reach the highest it has been since closer monitoring of Thailand began in May 2017; to 6.47 incidents per day. These increases appear to have commenced an upward trend in the level of activity across Thailand, with the North, South and South-East reporting regions being the main contributors to this trend. The majority of incidents this week have been âCriminality,â âHazardsâ and âOther.â These incidents have been concentrated in Bangkok, Phuket and the âDeep Southâ Provinces of Phuket, Songkhla, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat as well as up in the North around Chiang Mai {McCabe, 2017 #517}.
COMMENT. Last weekâs report assessed ânext week could see November become a month of high activity across the country. Based on incidents logged on the Intelligence Fusion platform, these will PROBABLY consist of âCriminalityâ and âOtherâ incidents and POSSIBLY âDirect Weapons,â occurring predominantly Bangkok and the South reporting regions. The absence of floods this week and âHazardâ incidents being replaced by âDirect Weaponsâ incidents, it is PROBABLE next week will see an absence of âHazardâ incidents amongst the most recurring incidents and POTENTIALLY from now until the wet season returns next year {PRATTEN 2017 #619}.â
While the level of activity appears to have been an accurate assessment, the absence of hazards has definitely been proven incorrect; âCriminality,â âHazardsâ and âOtherâ incidents make up the majority of activities occurring in the country. COMMENT ENDS.
NORTH

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1. 18 NOV 2017: Military Weapons Seized in Mueang District, Lamphun
Police arrested a man following the discovery of several military weapons as well as ammunition from his house in tambon Sribuaban. Available reports stated authorities found the following:
· 1 x 9mm submachine gun with two magazines holding 23 rounds;
· 5 x hand grenades;
· 2 x recoilless rifles;
· 8 x sticks of dynamite;
· 2 x M47 magazines; and,
· 2 x M16 magazines and other ammunition.
The seized items are said to be worth more than Bt1 million (US$30515.72). Authorities said the investigation was being extended to find out the source of the weapons.
COMMENT. The firearms shown above appear to be Eastern-bloc firearms. For example, the rifle magazines shown in the above left photo appear to be magazines for a Kalashnikov rifle rather than an M16. Considering a few previous weapons trafficking incidents â shown below â weapons trafficking in Thailand has sometimes been for the purpose of smuggling Cambodian military weapons to Mynanmar. Weapons from Cambodia have usually been Eastern-bloc designed weapons. COMMENT ENDS.

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2. 19-22 NOV 2017: 3.0 Magnitude Earthquakes in the North
Two earthquakes measuring 3.0 Magnitude were recorded by the Thai Meteorological Department’s Seismology office. The first occurred in Phayao province while the second occurred in Chiang Mai. No reports of damages or casualties.
COMMENT. The last earthquake to reach 3.0 or above was back in September 2017. Earthquakes in this part of Thailand are a regular occurrence. However, it is rare for earthquakes or tremors to exceed 3.0 Magnitude. Often, this level of earthquake occurs to the West in Myanmar where the Western border of the Indo-Chinese tectonic plate that cuts through Myanmar is located {Peters, 2003 #549}{PRATTEN 2017 #555}{Seismological Bureau, 2017 #547}. COMMENT ENDS.
NORTH-EAST
3. NOTHING SIGNIFICANT TO REPORT
CENTRAL

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4. 19 NOV 2017: Police Seize Methamphetamine and Ketamine in Phayuha Khiri District, Nakhon Sawan
Authorities have seized what was believed to be the biggest-ever drug haul in Nakhon Sawan province after a vehicle pursuit ended with the traffickers successfully fleeing police. The suspects were able to flee authorities despite a large size force with drones and sniffer dogs pursuing them after they abandoned their vehicle â according to reporting.
On the truck officials found 20 sacks of suspected methamphetamine and ketamine in what was believed would be the largest narcotics haul ever recorded in the central plain province.
COMMENT. No specific details on the quantities of methamphetamine and ketamine. While 20 sacks is a large quantity, previous trafficking incidents would suggest this is a small shipment compared to other quantities seized around the country. However, prior incidents in Nakhon Sawan would suggest this seizure was larger than the 1 million yaba pills seized on 22 JUN 2017. The location of the seizure would suggest these drugs came into Thailand via Chiang Mai/Chiang Rai area up in the North; heading for Ayutthaya or Bangkok for further distribution. Interestingly, this is only the second incident of trafficking in this province since 01 MAY 2017 yet it is between a well-known entry point and storage/distribution area of Thailand. {McCabe, 2017 #517;PRATTEN 2017 #518}. COMMENT ENDS.
5. 17 NOV 2017: Activist Claims Water Polluted by Chatree Gold Mine in Thap Khlo District, Phichit
Local gold mine protester Thanyarat Sinthonthammathat published pictures and a video clip of what appeared to be severely polluted, black water in a canal near the Chatree gold mine in Tambon Khao Chet Luk, Thap Khlo district. Thanyarat claims this was not the first time that local people had found the canal polluted. She has claimed the polluted water had come from a spring in a paddy field near the gold mine’s tailing storage facility. The mining company â Akara Resources – has denied any leakage has occurred, stating this was another effort by the to defame the company.
COMMENT. The environmental and health impacts from the Chatree gold mine have always been a hot issue. This was the main reason for the government ordering the closure of the gold mine in January using Article 44 powers in the Interim Constitution; a practice which has become controversial in Thailand. The closure has triggered Akara’s parent company in Australia – Kingsgate Consolidated – to sue the Thai government under rules established in the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement – TAFTA. Previous incidents relating to the Chatree gold mine indicate that recently the Thai government will conduct further negotiations with Kingsgate Consolidated downplaying speculation that it may have to pay significant compensation to the firm {McCabe, 2017 #517}. These recent claims would appear to work in the governmentâs favour when it comes to further negotiations; providing a justification of the use of Article 44 to close the countryâs only gold mine. COMMENT ENDS.
BANGKOK

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6. 21 NOV 2017: Extension of Visiting Period for Sanam Luang Crematorium Being Considered
As visitors to the Royal Crematorium has risen over 1.3 million since the opening day on 02 NOV 2017. Authorities are now considering an extension of the visiting period to propose to the Prime Minister for approval. At this time, the visiting period is to end Nov 30.
Visiting times have already been adjusted to enable the Crematorium to be open for viewing from 06:30 instead of 07:00 each day.
COMMENT. This exhibition has required several roads in the area to be closed off from vehicle traffic. Prior imagery analysis of this exhibition with the road closures and assessed areas affected is shown below {PRATTEN 2017 #617}. An extension of the visiting period would indicate these road closures would continue. COMMENT ENDS.

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7. 21 NOV 2017: 10m Yaba Pills Seized in Bang Phli District, Samut Prakan
After receiving a tip-off, police seized a cache of 10.31 million methamphetamine pills – or yaba – worth Bt1billion (US$30,590,400.00) and arrested two traffickers in Bang Phli district, Samut Prakan province. This seizure is â according to media reports â one of the largest drug hauls in several years.
The pills were smuggled from a neighbouring country before being stored and distributed around Bangkok as well as to neighbouring countries via the South of Thailand.
COMMENT. This is the largest seizure of yaba since 01 MAY 2017. Examining trafficking incidents in Bangkok indicates this location is close to Suvarnabhumi airport and is near the location of a previous bust where a variety of 1m yaba pills, 400kg of âice,â 148 bottles of liquid ketamine and 600g of ketamine flakes were seized by authorities.
As shown in the imagery below, both these incidents have occurred away from the majority of trafficking incidents logged on the Intelligence Fusion since 01 MAY 2017. Prior analysis of drug trafficking in Thailand has identified Bangkok as a hub for storage and distribution within the city, to the East and to the South. These seizures would suggest that within the Bangkok reporting region, Samut Prakan province serves as the main hub.
While the seizure is significant quantity, given that the drug is manufactured and transported into Thailand from neighbouring countries, this seizure will dent the supply only temporarily {Elswood, 2017 #599}.

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8. 22 NOV 2017: Erawan Shrine Bombing Suspect Arrested on Arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport
Wanna Suansan â a woman linked to the 2015 bombing of the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok â was arrested upon her arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Wanna is among the suspects wanted in Thailand for the fatal explosion at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok on 17 AUG 2015 that killed 20 people, 14 of them foreign tourists and wounded more than 120 people. No group claimed responsibility for the blast.
COMMENT. Wanna Suansan is one of 17 people wanted by authorities in connection with the bombing; one of the other suspects is her Turkish husband. Reports used to plot this incident indicate there is speculation as to who carried out the attack and their motive. One theory mentioned is that given the number of Chinese tourists killed in the blast, it was related to Chinese Uighurs opposed to Beijingâs rule; two Chinese Uighurs are currently on trial in relation to this bombing.
However, it is also worth noting that Wanna Suansan is from the South of Thailand; a common practice by insurgent groups in the provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Songkhla and Yala is not to claim responsibility for attacks. COMMENT ENDS.
SOUTH EAST

9. SUMMARY
Over the last week there have been several isolated incidents which â aside from contributing to trends identified in the âIntroductionâ of this report â do not have individual significance. Nonetheless, these incidents will be able to contribute to future trend analyses for this part of Thailand.
With the ASEAN International Fleet Review finishing in Pattaya city, Chon Buri this week â coinciding with the 50th Anniversary of the formation of ASEAN â as yet there have not been any major incidents identified such as âStatements.â
SOUTH

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10. 21-24 NOV 2017: Flooding in Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan Provinces
A tropical depression known as âKIROGIâ has caused flooding in Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan provinces from 21-24 NOV 2017. While no reports mention casualties, the floods have forced local authorities to mobilise heavy machines and water pumps to drain flood water from business and residential areas as well as flooding the Phetkasem Highway â a main route connecting the South to Bangkok â to the point where traffic had to be diverted.
COMMENT. This storm did not show up on previous tools used to monitor tropical cyclones â mainly the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System. This may have been due to its status as a tropical depression as opposed to a tropical cyclone {Joint Research Centre, 2017 #558}. COMMENT ENDS.
11. PHUKET SUMMARY
A number of incidents have occurred across the island where locals have been murdered. At this point in time, they appear to be isolated in incidents and mainly relate to marital issues. As for the corruption issues, these relate to ongoing investigation into senior Phuket police officers accepting bribes. A number of these officers have been transferred as part of the investigation.
COMMENT. Transferring officers to different posts appears to be a common practice in corruption investigations in Thailand. COMMENT ENDS.
12. 22 NOV 2017: Yaba Use on The Rise Across Phuket
Phuket Provincial Office Chief Administrative Officer Sakchai Kunanawatchaid has stated that drug arrest statistics have shown the use of methamphetamine or yaba is on the rise in Phuket due to decreasing prices. Of note:
Methamphetamine’s popularity is predicted to increase further as prices decreaseKratom has also been found to still be very prevalent in Phuket and is continuing to spread.The transporting of drugs into Phuket has become more common through bus travel or by mail delivery, or even by boat.
COMMENT. While drugs would definitely be an issue in Phuket due to the island being a popular holiday destination, the recent seizure in Samut Prakan may dent the yaba supply temporarily, creating the possibility that prices will rise due to a lower supply. COMMENT ENDS.
13. 17 NOV 2017: Attempted Complex Attack in Mayo District, Pattani
Insurgents attempted to carry out a complex attack in tambon Thanon by initially setting fire to a motorcycle in front of the Siri Rat Samakkhi School. When defence volunteers arrived at the scene, insurgents detonated an improvised explosive device (IED), no one was injured. Authorities also found another IED nearby that had not been detonated.
The attacks prompted the Siri Rat Samakkhi School to suspend classes. Another school in nearby Moo 1 village in Tambon Mayo was also closed for the day.
COMMENT. Schools, teachers, government officials and even buses carrying students have been targeted by insurgents before. It appears that anything associated with the Thai government in any fashion is considered a target by insurgents {Askew, 2008 #436;Harish, 2006 #429}{McCabe, 2017 #517}.
The act of burning the motorcycle would appear to be a âcome-on;â an action that forces security personnel into an area where a secondary device is then detonated. Insurgents have previously used a motorcycle with an IED attached to draw in Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel but these have been largely unsuccessful. Other complex attacks in this region have consisted of insurgents carrying out an ambush with small arms fire â SAF â then detonating an IED when they withdraw. These kinds of complex attacks have caused casualties previously {McCabe, 2017 #517}{PRATTEN 2017 #509;PRATTEN 2017 #577}. COMMENT ENDS.
14. 21 NOV 2017: IED Kills 1 Police Officer, Wounds 2 In Bannang Sata District, Yala
A remote controlled improvised explosive device (RCIED) killed a border police officer and wounded two people. The attackers detonated the 10kg RCIED via a walkie-talkie radio as six officers on three motorcycles were patrolling Ban Sai Kaew, tambon Thaling Chan.
According to reporting used to log the incident, those responsible for the attack claimed responsibility by spray-painting the word “Fatoni,” the Malay term for “Pattani freedom fighter” on the asphalt road near the blast site. The cell responsible for this attack is believed to be a cell led by an insurgent leader named Abdullah Tapoto.
COMMENT. This appears to be the first incident since 01 MAY 2017 where insurgents have made any kind of claim of responsibility. COMMENT ENDS.
WEATHER EFFECTS â NEXT 7 DAYS (Time & Date.com, 2017)

ASSESSMENT

Overall, this week has seen a higher level of activity than usual in Thailand. Combined with last week, November has seen the highest number of incidents occur in Thailand and the highest number of incidents per day since closer monitoring began in May 2017. At this point in time though, these incidents appear to be an increased level of the status quo â âCrime,â âHazardsâ and âOtherâ â and do not pose any concern to Thailandâs overall stability.
Considering the overall number of incidents, their locations and the weather forecasts, it is PROBABLE that next week there will be a continuation of the same; although there is a POTENTIAL chance of flooding in the South-East â mainly Pattaya â in addition to the POTENTIAL for more provinces in the South to experience similar conditions to what has been seen in Prachuap Khiri Khan and Phetchaburi. If floods continue in Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan as well as additional provinces in the South, it is POSSIBLE roads connecting the South to Bangkok will be flooded and thus limit road access.
The drug and trafficking incidents which have occurred in Bangkok, the Central and North reporting regions would appear to cement prior analysis on drug and weapons trafficking across Thailand. Prior reports and the incidents this week CONFIRM these activities will continue in these reporting regions as the source of such activities is out of the direct control of Thai authorities. However, in the case of the major bust in Samut Prakan, authorities have POSSIBLY begun to identify the major storage and distribution area for drug traffickers. However, given the large bust it is PROBABLE that traffickers will attempt to relocate their supplies in order to prevent future seizures in the immediate future, ensuring that what has been stated about drug use in Phuket will be the case.
With the proposed extension of the Royal Crematorium being open to the public, it is PROBABLE the road closures around the Royal Crematorium will continue, affected vehicle movement and access in the surrounding areas of Sanam Luang. Given the number of people who have been visiting the Crematorium, it is POSSIBLE that whatever date is chosen to extend the visiting period to, there will be an influx of people visiting the site as the visiting period draws to a close.
The activities of insurgents in Narathiwat, Pattani, Songkhla and Yala CONFIRM these areas will continue to be places where bodies like the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office will advise against any travel to; especially if doing so will put visitors at risk of being associated with the Thai government in any form. Insurgents in these areas will continue to carry out IED attacks â mainly RCIED â against anything to do with the Thai government but the recent failures in the attempted complex attack will POSSIBLY see a return to insurgents carrying out SAF to fix their target in place, then detonate an IED to improve the chances of causing casualties. Furthermore, contrary to what has occurred in Bannang Sata, there will PROBABLY be an absence of anyone taking credit for the attack. With this in mind, there is POTENTIAL that future developments surrounding Wanna Suansan may reveal a link between the Erawan Shrine bombing and Southern insurgents.
Finally, the developments surrounding the Chatree gold mine appear to be quite convenient. Given the manner in which the mine was closed by the Thai government â using Article 44 powers which has turned out to be against the TAFTA â the claims made by the activist would work in the governmentâs favour when it comes to future efforts to resolve the dispute between the government and Kingsgate Consolidated. It is POSSIBLE the Thai government will back the claims made by the activist and their associates in order to improve its chances of resolving the dispute with Kingsgate consolidated in their favour; limiting any monies it has to pay for closing the mine. Doing so may encourage more activists to make similar claims about the Chatree gold mine; thus making it POSSIBLE that over the next few weeks, there will be more claims about the Chatree gold mine causing pollution and environmental damage in surrounding areas.
References
MCCABE, M. & HARRINGTON, D. 2017. Intelligence Fusion Platform [Online]. London: Ambix. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/ [Accessed 19 November 2017].
PRATTEN M. 2017. Thailand Weekly Intelligence Report – 14 November 2017. Thailand [Online], 12 November 2017. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/11/14/Thailand-Weekly-Intelligence-Report [Accessed 19 November 2017].
TIME & DATE.COM. 2017. Weather in Thailand [Online]. Stavanger: Time and Date.com. Available: https://www.timeanddate.com/weather/thailand [Accessed 19 November 2017 2017].
NB â For the sake of efficiency and to avoid potential misunderstandings, references mentioning myself or the Intelligence Fusion platform are built upon the collection and logging of incidents based on the combination of numerous open sources such as mainstream media, social media and open source mapping tools.
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