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.