fbpx Skip to content
Menu

Thailand Weekly Intelligence Report

Date: 21 January 2018

Monitoring Period: 12:01hrs, 13 JAN 2018 to 20:00hrs 20 JAN 2018 (GMT+8

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Thailand’s overall situation appears to have increased in severity to MEDIUM-HIGH at this time. While the status quo continues across the country in terms of Crime, Hazards and Other incidents being the main activities occurring, the political developments in Bangkok this would indicate the election anticipated for November could be delayed again.

INTRODUCTION

This Weekly Intelligence Report on Thailand is intended to analyse what has been happening country wide then delve into Bangkok due to its significance as the nation’s capital and analyse events on one other reporting region – carried out on a rotation basis – in order to delve into SIGACTS as well as examine trends occurring elsewhere more easily. Doing so will avoid instances of NSTR for a reporting region. The region to be examined alongside Bangkok this week is the North Reporting Region.

COUNTRY WIDE REPORTING

Over this period there have been 63 incidents throughout Thailand which have been logged on the Intelligence Fusion platform. As shown in the imagery below, Bangkok, the North and South Reporting regions are the areas of highest activity.

In terms of what types of activity is occurring throughout the country, the graphs and table below indicate that over the period since the last report, there has been a decrease in the quantity of incidents but the severity has increased. While Crime, Hazards and Other incidents continue to lead as per prior reports, this period has seen three incidents relating to protests; a rare occurrence.

As per last week’s report, Bangkok and the South continue to be the areas of highest activity. In terms of the rate of incidents for January, the rate of incidents per day has roughly tripled since last week; up from 1.29 incidents/day to 3.29 incidents/day. With the end of the month approaching, the level of activity in Thailand would appear to be approaching similar levels seen in the past 6 months with the exception of November (PRATTEN 2017c).

 

BANGKOK REPORTING REGION

 

1. SUMMARY

Crime and Hazards continue to make up the majority of activity in Bangkok. Incidents across Bangkok continue to focus around the progress towards the next election. However, developments towards an election in November appear to be in doubt. These, along with three incidents relating to protests, have been behind the Severity / Quality of Incidents reaching a High level.

In addition to political developments, a raid on a massage parlour in Huai Khwang district last week has seen further warrants issued, the discovery of authorities having a hand in the human trafficking and underage prostitution; exacerbating Thailand’s problems with addressing human trafficking and the illegal activities it spills into. There has also been the arrest of a passport forger who has reportedly been selling his services to Islamic State. While overall activity is currently lower than the last 6 months, this will no doubt change as the month reaches its end.

SIGACTS

2. 08-19 JAN 2018: Political Developments

Over the past week, a number of incidents have occurred at the NLA and Government House relating to the election. They are:

08 JAN 2018 – the NLA committee vetting the draft Organic Act on the Election of MPs undertook final consideration of the whole law before delivering to the NLA it for its second and third readings.17 JAN 2018 – NLA President Pornpetch Wichitcholchai has received a petition filed by 32 NLA members requesting that the Constitutional Court rule on the constitutionality of the anti-graft law which waives qualifications prohibited under the charter.18 JAN 2018 – the Organic Act on Prevention and Suppression of Corruption passed its first reading in the NLA.18 JAN 2018 – a report has emerged suggesting the Organic Acts which need to be in place for the election may not be enacted in time. Members of a NLA scrutiny panel are seeking to suspend enforcing the organic laws concerning MPs and senators by 90 days. The suspension of this act being rolled out would make an election in November very difficult19 JAN 2018 – selection process on Organic Act on Senators is reportedly going to be changed by the NLA panel scrutinising the Act.

COMMENT. While two Organic acts appear to be progressing, the changes and petitions surrounding the other Organic Acts would add credibility to the speculation about the election being delayed. The election to return Thailand to democratic rule has been delayed multiple times already. COMMENT ENDS.

3. 14 JAN 2018: Pakistani National Arrested for Supplying Fake Passports (Update)

A Pakistani national – Muhammad Iqbal – was arrested for allegedly producing fake passports for transnational criminals, possibly including those joining Islamic State. Initial analysis assessed it was PROBABLE the arrest was against a network providing forged passports for those wishing to travel under false names in order to avoid detection by authorities – mainly criminals fleeing authorities and would also include those linked to Islamic State. The Pakistani citizen is PROBABLY a member of a group that provides its services to Islamic State members but does not appear to be directly under Islamic State itself (PRATTEN 2018).

Further reporting has indicated Iqbal is primarily a passport forger who would sell his services to any group. However, he had recently entered Malaysia using a fake passport to meet a man known as Atiq, also known as Ghulam Farid, a highly sought-after suspect with links to the al-Qaeda. Atiq is an individual wanted by the Spanish authorities for his alleged involvement in supplying fake travel documents to terrorist elements responsible for the 2004 bombings in Madrid which killed 191 people (Robbins, 2018, The Star Online, 2018).

COMMENT. These developments confirm prior analysis on this incident and any presence Islamic State would have in Thailand (PRATTEN 2018). COMMENT ENDS

4. 17-20 JAN 2018: Planned Protest March Blocked by Police at Thammasat University, Pathum Thani:

A civil society network had planned to march from Bangkok to Khon Kaen to demand the return of civil rights and public participation. The march was organised by a group of civil rights activists called the People Go Network. The campaign focused on four main themes: the right to universal health care, the rights of farmers, community and environmental rights, and the Constitution. About 200 people were expected to attend the march.

 

As shown above, the march was to set off from the Rangsit campus at 09:00hrs on 20 JAN 2018 with the first stop scheduled at Wang Noi District, Ayutthaya. There were to be more activities to come along their route to Khon Kaen. However, around 200 police blocked a main door of the university to prevent protestors from leaving on the Saturday. The protestors have said they would stay put at the university until they were allowed to march. As of the time of this report, the activists remain at the University.

COMMENT. Public gatherings for the purpose of political activities remain banned in Thailand. However, there have been a number of protests recorded in the last 6 months – pictured below – which did not feature any interference by police or other Thai authorities. Many of these protests were focussed on economic issues, infrastructure issues others not directly related to criticising the NCPO, its rule or the monarchy. However, the large scale of this protest and the calls for the return of rights and public participation would appear to be directly aimed at the NCPO. Had authorities ignored it, it would have served as an encouragement for further protests by critics of the NCPO. Amongst incidents in las week’s report, PM Chan-o-cha warned of a divided society posing a threat to Thailand having an election. COMMENT ENDS

NORTH REPORTING REGION

 

5. SUMMARY

While this part of Thailand is no way near as active as Bangkok or the South, the North reporting region sits at the base of the Golden Triangle; it serves as a gateway for drug traffickers in neighbouring Myanmar and Laos to move Yaba, Ice and Heroin to customers in Thailand but also to travel further South to Malaysia where the drugs are shipped internationally. While authorities appear to consistently work to intercept and arrest drug shipments, their inability to target production facilities in neighbouring countries means the shipments keep coming. This situation sees incidents of Crime contributing to nearly half of all incidents that occur in this part of Thailand. The only other incident which comes even remotely close is the occurrence of Hazard incidents due to fires, tremors from the fault line to the West in Myanmar and incidents of flooding during the wet season in the middle of the year. Recent incidents in this region are no exception either; incidents since December 2017 have occurred in areas within the same general areas – shown below – over the last 6 months. (PRATTEN 2017b, PRATTEN 2017a, Intelligence Fusion, 2017).

 

SIGACTS

6. 31 DEC 2017: Army to Beef Up Security Patrols to Combat Drug Trafficking Along Thai Myanmar Border

Third Army commander LTGEN Wijak Siribansop has stated that soldiers along the Thai-Myanmar border have beefed up patrols to ward off an expected influx of drugs. In addition, The Thai army and the Office of the Narcotics Control Board have agreed to install more security cameras along the Thai-Myanmar border in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son, especially along paths used by drug smugglers previously.

According to him, the volume of methamphetamine seized coming into Thailand over the past three months is higher than usual, and accounts for one-third of the entire amount of the drug seized over the entire year. The Army believes ethnic minority groups in Myanmar – especially the Wa and the Lahu – are badly in need of money. The drug trade provides these groups with a stable and lucrative source of funds.

COMMENT. These measures come on the back of the NSB chief in Bangkok – LTGEN Sommai Kingvisaisuk – has placed a Bt5 million (approximately US$157,000.00) bounty the arrest of the man predominantly responsible for the methamphetamine coming into and through Thailand. Yi Sae – or Chaiwat Pornsakulpaisarn – is known as the “Godfather of Methamphetamine” by the authorities as he is alleged to behind most of the drugs coming into Thailand in this region. Yi Sae is currently believed to be living in Wa State of Myanmar, out of the reach of Thai authorities and reportedly out of reach for Myanmar authorities too. Previous incidents of drug trafficking linked to him indicate that those trafficking his shipments have been armed and are willing to engage Thai patrols with SAF in order to withdraw back into Myanmar (Intelligence Fusion, 2017, Chiang Rai Times, 2017, PRATTEN 2017d).

Since the increase in security measures, drug traffickers appear to have continued success in crossing the borders into Thailand; with incidents that include large quantities of Yaba and Heroin have been intercepted or found. Furthermore, there have not been any recent incidents recorded of Thai Army patrols or authorities having armed clashes with traffickers. COMMENT ENDS.

WEATHER EFFECTS – NEXT 7 DAYS (Thai Meteorological Department, 2014)

 

COMMENT. The morning fog in the North would provide excellent concealment for traffickers crossing in to Thailand via Me Hong Son, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai. The weather conditions in the south appear similar to those which caused widespread flooding back in November-December; but do not appear to be actually causing such conditions at this time nor will they in the future. COMMENT ENDS.

ASSESSMENT

Thailand’s overall situation appears to have increased in severity to MEDIUM-HIGH at this time. While the status quo continues across the country in terms of Crime, Hazards and Other incidents being the main activities occurring, the political developments in Bangkok this would indicate the election anticipated for November could be delayed again.

Fortunately, events surrounding the arrest of the passport forger support prior analysis of Islamic State’s presence in Thailand, if members are in the country, they would appear to be there for the purpose of buying fake passports to allow them to travel on to other countries.

The events in Bangkok this week continue to point to an election going ahead in Thailand. However, the petitions and changes to at least two of the Organic Acts will POTENITALLY see the election being delayed again, POTENTIALLY being pushed back to early 2019. Given these delays would appear to be outside of the NCPO’s direct control, any further delays will POSSIBLY be seen as further attempts for the military and PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to cement their control over Thailand.

The protests that have begun at Thammasat University in Pathum Thani could POTENTIALLY be the beginning of a standoff between police and those who were going to participate in the march. These protests were planned and announced in advance with little to suggest at the moment that authorities contacted those involved and tried to prevent it from happening. If the protesters remain inside the University, authorities will POSSIBLY begin preparations to crackdown on this group and break up what appears to be a POTENTIAL sit-in protest at the University. While such actions will draw international criticism, allowing the activity to go on will POSSIBLY encourage more protests to flare up, with increased chances of unrest. Considering the PM’s remarks and warnings, the longer this protest goes on, it will POSSIBLY be used as justification for the election to be delayed further – regardless of the progress of the Organic Acts in the NLA – as the NCPO will use this incident as justification of the unrest that initiated the 2014 coup continues.

Reporting in the North CONFIRMS that Northern Thailand remains a gateway for drug traffickers in the Golden Triangle to move Yaba, Heroin and Ice into Thailand and through to Malaysia for international distribution. With the seizures and finds of large supplies but little in the way SAF attacks or skirmishes between Thai authorities and traffickers, there is POTENTIAL that – considering the weather – traffickers are currently using the foggy conditions I the mornings for added concealment.

While the Army and authorities appear to be increasing efforts to combat an increased supply entering the country, there appears to be little they can do from within Thailand as the source of these drugs is outside of their jurisdiction. Unless authorities in Myanmar are able to directly target drug manufacturers – in particular Yi Sae – or Thai authorities are able to cross the border, the large shipments of Yaba, Ice and Heroin will certainly continue to come across the border.

References

CHIANG RAI TIMES. 2017. Thailand’s Unending Hunt for the “Godfather of Methamphetamine” in Chiang Rai’s Golden Triangle. Chiang Rai Times [Online]. Available: http://www.chiangraitimes.com/thailands-unending-hunt-for-the-godfather-of-methamphetamine-in-chiang-rais-golden-triangle.html [Accessed 20 Janaury 2018].

INTELLIGENCE FUSION 2017. Intelligence Fusion Platform. In: MCCABE, M. & HARRINGTON, D. (eds.) Intelligence Fusion. Durham: Ambix.

PRATTEN M. 2017a. Fortnightly Snapshot: Organised Crime in Thailand. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/11/03/Fortnightly-Snapshot-Organised-Crime-in-Thailand [Accessed 20 January 2018].

PRATTEN M. 2017b. Fortnightly Snapshot: Thailand’s Flood Hazards. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/09/04/Fortnightly-Snapshot-Thailands-Flood-Hazards [Accessed 20 January 2018].

PRATTEN M. 2017c. Thailand Weekly Intelligence Report – 14 January 2018. Thailand [Online], 14 January 2018. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2018/01/15/Thailand-Weekly-Intelligence-Report [Accessed 20 Januray 2018].

PRATTEN M. 2017d. Thailand Weekly Intelligence Report – 19 December 2017. Thailand [Online], 19 December 2017. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2017/12/19/Thailand-Weekly-Intelligence-Report [Accessed 20 January 2018].

PRATTEN M. 2018. Post Incident Report: Passport Forger Arrested In Bangkok. Intelligence Fusion [Online]. Available: https://www.intelligencefusion.co.uk/single-post/2018/01/17/Post-Incident-Report-Passport-Forger-Arrested-In-Bangkok [Accessed 20 January 2018].

ROBBINS, S. 2018. ‘IS-linked’ Pakistani Passport Forger Caught by Police in Thailand. Sky News, [Online]. Available: https://news.sky.com/story/is-linked-pakistani-passport-forger-caught-by-police-in-thailand-11213529 [Accessed 20 January 2018].

THAI METEOROLOGICAL DEPARTMENT. 2014. Weather Forecast [Online]. Bangkok: Thai Meteorological Department,. Available: https://www.tmd.go.th/en/thailand.php [Accessed 20 January 2018].

THE STAR ONLINE. 2018. ‘Fake Passport Maker Met al-Qaeda Man’. The Star Online [Online]. Available: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/01/18/fake-passport-maker-met-alqaeda-man/ [Accessed 20 January 2018].

NB – 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.

Back to Reports & Resources

About the author

Book a demo

Close the book a demo popup

Book a Demo

Live and in-depth incident profiles

Intelligence Fusion provides an industry leading platform to help security professionals and global businesses.