Thailand: Terrorizing Poverty

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December 2, 2007: A major cure for civil disorder is a growing economy, and Thailand's is growing at a rate of 4.5 percent. More of this growth is being directed at the Moslem south, which has long lagged behind the rest of the country economically. This was due to a number of factors. This area on the Malaysian border is remote. The largely Moslem population is not as educated as the non-Moslems in the rest of the country. Finally, criminal activity is higher in the Moslem area, largely because of the border and the lucrative smuggling gangs. The current Islamic terrorism in the south is often directed at schools, as Islamic conservatives oppose secular education. The violence, plus the cultural differences and educational shortcomings, make it difficult to boost the southern economy, even with additional investments. Most of the Moslems, however, have figured all that out, and oppose the Islamic radicals. Thus the Islamic terrorists are spending more time going after Moslems, especially those they suspect of passing information on to the police.

The terrorists are correct in their belief that more Moslems are turning on them. Police have arrested over a hundred terrorism suspects in the last two weeks. Recent raids have yielded bomb making equipment and weapons. Meanwhile, police up north are still seeking those responsible for multiple bombings in the capital last New Years Eve. The two latest arrests are of Thai Buddhists. It appears the New Years Eve bombings had nothing to do with the Islamic terrorists, who have confined their violence to the Buddhist south.

 

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