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Thailand

Overview:  Thailand’s principal vulnerability to international terrorism continues to be as a transit and facilitation hub given the high volume of travelers through Bangkok and available market of illegal goods, although that vulnerability was reduced in 2020 because of COVID-related travel restrictions and border closures.  Thailand did not experience any attacks attributed to transnational terrorist groups in 2020, and violence was limited to attacks attributed to ethno-nationalist insurgents in the country’s Deep South (the southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, and parts of Songkhla).  Violence in the Deep South in 2020 was at the lowest level since the violence reignited in 2004.  Thai security officials remain concerned about the potential for international terrorist groups to infiltrate domestic insurgent groups, while maintaining that there is no evidence to date of any operational linkages between domestic insurgents and international networks.  Thailand remained a productive counterterrorism partner, although the Thai government continues to concentrate on domestic political challenges as its primary security priority.

2020 Terrorist Incidents:  Overall, the number of insurgent attacks and related fatalities in 2020 decreased from the previous year and were confined to the Deep South.  Insurgents predominantly used small arms, IEDs, and vehicle-borne IEDs (VBIEDs).

  • On January 12 a group of armed men threw pipe bombs and launched M79 grenades into a subdistrict defense operation base in Narathiwat province.  The group stormed the base, killed a volunteer, and wounded seven others.  Paramilitary rangers exchanged gunfire with the attackers during pursuit, killing one of them.
  • On February 24 a VBIED ostensibly targeting a deputy district chief and a group of territorial defense volunteers detonated outside a school and a Buddhist shrine in Songkhla province.  Ten were wounded in the blast, including the deputy district chief, three volunteers, four civilians, and two students.
  • On February 28 an IED targeting a para-military unit exploded on a road in Narathiwat province, wounding six rangers.  One ranger died later in a hospital.
  • On March 17 a small IED followed by a VBIED detonated outside the Southern Border Provinces Administration Center in Yala province.  Twenty-eight persons were wounded in the blast, including police officers and reporters.
  • On July 15 an IED targeting a paramilitary patrol squad went off on a road in Pattani province.  Six paramilitary rangers and four civilians were wounded.  A similar attack took place on October 1, in Songkhla province, wounding seven military personnel, one of whom died later in a hospital.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  There have been no changes since 2019.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Thailand is a member of the APG, and the Anti-Money Laundering Office Thailand is a member of the Egmont Group.  There were no major changes in 2020.

Countering Violent Extremism:  The national counterterrorism strategy published in 2017 includes a CVE component.  Thailand lacks a national CVE action plan, but the National Security Policy and Plan (2019-22) published in November 2019 includes regionally specific security plans that focus on extremism.

International and Regional Cooperation:  Thailand continued to support CT efforts in several regional and multilateral organizations, including the United Nations, ASEAN, ARF, ADMM, and APEC.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future