Thai police believe the attacks last weekend in three southern provinces (Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat) were organized by an organization called Gerakan Mujahideen Islam Pattani (GMIP). It is believed that this group received help from an Islamic radical organization in neighboring Malaysia called KMM (Kampulan Mujahideen Malaysia). Both organizations have ties to al Qaeda (via members who were trained at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan or fought the Russian in Afghanistan during the 1980s.) The GMIP attacks left four soldiers and two policemen dead. Over a hundred rifles and pistols were stolen when an army base was raided. Two bombs went off elsewhere, and another was defused. Twenty schools were burned down. Five people have been arrested, but the attackers disappeared after their attacks. The attackers covered their faces, so witnesses were unable to provide positive identification.
The degree of organization and skill demonstrated by the 60 or so attackers makes these three provinces a battleground in the war against Islamic terrorism. GMIP, like other al Qaeda groups, advocates conversion of all non-Moslems and devotion to a particularly strict form of Islam. Only about five percent of Thais are Moslem and nearly all live in a few southern provinces bordering on largely Moslem Malaysia. Islamic radicals are under attack in Malaysia, but still maintain Islamic schools and fund raising organizations. GMIP and KMM were both founded in 1995, as al Qaeda sought to set up Islamic radical organizations all over the world.