Washington– Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose suggestion of a “foreign hand” in the unrest in southernThailandhas at times upsethis neighbours, is likely to feel vindicated. AUnited States’ Department official said theUSis investigating the possible links between violence inThailand’s deep South and Jemaah Islamiah, the regional terrorist group with links to the Al-Qaeda.
Ms Celina Realuyo, director of Counterterrorism Finance Programmes, said intelligence reports indicated that there are links between the JI and insurgents inThailandandMalaysia.
Washingtonis now keeping a close eye on somegroups inMalaysiawhich had donated money to Islamic schools inThailand. It is also examining financial transactions and money laundering in South-east Asian countries.
“We’ve found that some terrorist groups donated money in the guise of charity to Islamic communities and Islamic schools which are linked to the insurgents who have bombed the south ofThailand,” Ms Realyuo told a security seminar inWashington.
TheUSis trying to check their bank accounts, telephone calls, text messages and charities.
Ms Realyuo said the arrest of Hambali, a key JI member and one of the most dangerous terrorists inSouth-east Asia, underscored theUSconcern about the JI connection withThailand.His capture led to the subsequent arrests of some suspected Thai members of the group.
Washingtonis also keeping a lookout for international terrorists who appearedto have donated money to tsunami-hit countries when they were, in fact, transmitting the funds to their members.
* US tracing JI links with south rebels (Bangkok Post, Feb 16)