Hun Sen Rejects Thai Official’s Cham Link to Jemaah Islamiyah

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday dismissed a senior Thai of­ficial’s allegations linking Cambodi­an Muslims to the Jemaah Islami­yah terrorist network and violence in southern Thailand, while a Thai diplomat said his embassy had no evidence to substantiate the claims.

In a Bangkok Post report on Sat­urday, General Wattanachai Chai­muenwong, a close aide to Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chula­nont, said Cambo­dians linked to JI had joined the radical Gurakan Mu­jahideen Islam Pattani insurgent group and infiltrated religious schools in southern Thailand.

Hun Sen called on Surayud to cor­rect the general’s statements. “Cam­bodia is not a terrorist hiding place to attack Thai­land…. Cam­bodian Chams are poor, but they don’t work for militants in southern Thailand,” Hun Sen said during a groundbreaking ceremony in Kan­dal province that was broadcast on radio. “The Thai spokesman should not have used that kind of language…. I cannot tolerate the accusation,” he added.

Hun Sen said Cambodia was prepared to engage constructively with Thailand on counter-terrorism, but accused Thai officials of scapegoating Cambodia because of their in­ability to cope with their own internal security problems.

“Thailand is wise enough to sol­ve its problems, but they cannot drag in Cambodia…through groundless accusations,” he said. “They are weak themselves, but they have blamed other people,” he added. “If there is evidence, they should not disseminate it through the media—they should send the re­port to Cambodia.”

Hun Sen called on Cambodians to continue patronizing Thai businesses and assured Chams that the Cambodian government does not suspect them of being terrorists. “Cambodian Chams should not be worried that the government is suspicious of you. The government will stay with you.”

At Hun Sen’s request, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong met Mon­day with Thai Embassy Charge d’Affaires Surasak Suparat to discuss the matter. Surasak Suparat said his embas­sy was still trying to check with Bangkok about the allegations, but said the embassy did not possess any proof to substantiate Wattana­chai’s claims.

“We don’t have evidence that Cambodian Muslims did that. We have to check why the officer said that in the newspaper,” he told re­porters outside the Foreign Minist­ry, adding that he would convey the Cambodian government’s re­sponse to Bangkok.

Hor Namhong said he had re­frained from responding to the Thai general, who first alleged that Cambodian and In­donesian ext­remists were leading terrorist training camps in southern Thailand, but said the gravity of the most recent allegations compelled him to respond.


Related Stories

Latest News