September 05, 2012 00:00 By PIYANUCH THAMNUKASETCHAI
The Anti-Money Laundering Office confiscated a plot of land and temporarily shut down an Islamic school in Narathiwat's Muang district due to suspicion it is being used to support terrorism in the South, AMLO secretary-general Pol Colonel Sihanat Prayoon
The office is also investigating financial links to the Taleban and millions of baht sent from the Middle East.
The 18-rai plot of land and the Burapa Islamic School belong to Useng Purong and seven others.
On July 2, security agencies discovered that insurgents who planted bombs at several rubber plantations had assembled the bombs in this school.
As part of the operation seven people were arrested, one of whom is accused of being responsible for 10 arson attacks and 17 explosions.
Of the seven detainees, one has been identified as Muhammad Useng Marso, who faces charges of shooting down security officials. Another is Mana Seya, believed to be in charge of teaching others how to make bombs.
On July 5, authorities revoked the school’s licence and closed it down. However, Pol Colonel Thawee Sodsong, secretary-general of the Southern Border Province Administration Centre (SBPAC), later allowed the school to be reopened.
The AMLO chief said closing down an Islamic school was a delicate issue, so the government allowed it to be reopened under the proviso it not be used for terrorist activities. He said the SBPAC was investigating another three Islamic schools suspected of being used to support terrorism.
The AMLO is also tracing financial transactions to find the source of funds being sent to terrorists in the South. Money allegedly comes from the Middle East for religious and humanitarian activities via schools and mosques, but is often used for the wrong purposes, Sihanat said.
“We also found financial links with the Taleban, but that has yet to be confirmed. Millions of baht has been transferred. We have been coordinating with officials in the Middle East to stop money transfers that can be used for terrorism purposes,” he said.
The office has also found money was being laundered via gold shops and real-estate businesses, in which proxies were used to buy plots of land later used to train terrorists.
In August, the AMLO seized up to 170 assets worth Bt16 million from drug suspects led by Suriyan Pongmanawut and others. Most of these were in the form of gold ornaments as well as Thai and Malaysian banknotes.
They also confiscated assets worth Bt1 million from drug suspects led by Saengthit Katisomsakul and others, as well as assets of unknown value owned by human-trafficking suspect Pranom Praekoksung.
People whose assets were seized have up to three months to clear themselves of suspicion.
Meanwhile, some 30 people from the South came to the capital to meet Interior Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit yesterday to ask for an opportunity to help relatives talked into joining insurgents to turn a new leaf as per the Article 21 of the National Security Act 2008. Yongyuth said he would take the request into consideration.