Thai army mistook Muslim summer courses for terrorist meeting

SHAFAQNA – A commander of the Thai army admitted yesterday that a military intelligence unit had mistakenly identified a summer lesson at a Muslim school in the restive province of Pattani as a terrorist conference. The admission came after soldiers raided the religious school, which locates in the Pattani’s office of Central Islamic Committee of Thailand (CICOT), on 14 April. A Muslim cleric told reporters that the soldiers said they received reports that 30 “terrorists” were gathering at the madras to plan new attacks against the authorities in late April, but the school was in fact hosting a lesson for Muslim students on summer vacation.

The cleric, Waedueramae Mamingi, told reporters on 15 April that he was upset by the “rude” behavior of the soldiers, who reportedly pushed their way into the classrooms and took photos of the staff without permission, though no arrest was made in the raid.

“Such action amounts to intimidation,” said Waedueramae, who is chairman of CICOT in Pattani, “I am saddened by the information and attitude of officers from some units that don’t adhere to policy [of reconciliation]issued by Commander of the Fourth Region Army. I think I will need to discuss with the commander about such allegation, in order to solve problem in the region. I believe the mistake was caused by prejudice of the operatives, and the lack of filtering of information.”

Waedueramae added that he was surprised about the raid because CICOT has already informed local police about the annual summer courses. “We want to encourage children to use their free time in a beneficial way, instead of behaving in any inappropriate way,” the cleric said.

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