Bangkok – Some 19 months after the violent insurgency in Thailand's deep South began, the authorities remain in the dark as to the identity of the brains behind it. The one thing that they know is that the insurgency is run by a unifying body called the Dewan Pembebasan Pattani (DPP) – a committee so secret that even the young militants who are trained to sow terror in the region are not aware of who their leaders are.
The DPP is the top of a pyramid of groups, with the terrorist cells at the bottom, sources in southern Thailand told Singapore's The Straits Times.
Its existence first came to light in documents seized from a the house of an alleged separatist, Masae Useng, in 2003. The documents revealed that the DPP wanted to build an organisation of more than 30,000 members, comprising 300 specialists, 3,000 commandos and 30,000 youth members. Intelligence analysts believe that the DPP now has some 15,000 members.
The most well-organised group within the DPP is believed to be the Barisan Revolusi Nasional Coordinate (BRN Coordinate), which is believed to behind the coordinated attack in Yala on July 14. Other groups have also emerged from divided movement for the liberation of Pattani, another southern province, and they sometimes work with the DPP.
A military source said that while the DPP uses the call of separatism to rouse the people, its real goal is to fight for a better deal and justice for Muslims, who have long complained of discrimination in largely-Buddhist Thailand.
"Ideology is the unifier. Even young boys training five to six other do not know the leader," a source familiar with the insurgency operations said.
Military sources say the insurgents receive their funding from events such as local football matches, a membership fee of one baht a day, as well as foreign sources.
Again, the Thai authorities are in the dark as to who exactly these foreign sources are.
* 'Mystery group' runs insurgency in Thai south (The Straits Times, July 25)