The following article is reprinted with permission from Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), Oslo.
$2m bounty for Wa druglord
By Peter Aung
December 13, 2010
Wanted posters are being placed in Bangkok bars and nightclubs advertising a $US2 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Wa druglord Wei Hsueh-kang.
Thai anti-narcotics authorities have launched the joint ‘Operation Hot Spot’ with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to track Wei Hsueh-kang, also a senior commander in the powerful United Wa State Army (UWSA), once the world’s biggest heroin producer.
Their eagerness to catch the ethnic Chinese kingpin, thought to be in his early 60s, has prompted the use of unorthodox tactics, such as printing his face on beer mats and on the sides of bottles in popular Thai nightspots.
He had been sentenced to death in absentia by the Thai government for his involvement in the 1987 trafficking of 860 kilograms of heroin into Thailand, but has evaded arrest and remains in Burma, reportedly moving between Rangoon, Mandalay and Shan state. His Thai citizenship was revoked in 2001.
The Thai government has also put out arrest warrants for 20 other top UWSA officials with close ties to Southeast Asia’s sizeable drugs trade.
The DEA also want him on charges of smuggling more than 400 kilograms of heroin into the U.S. in the 1980s. The agency describes its attempt to capture Wei Hsueh-kang as an “aggressive community outreach initiative” that draws on information provided by the public, and also targets the UWSA and “other high level drug trafficking organisations within Asia”.
Information about Wei Hsueh-kang has been translated into 10 languages and is being “distributed in areas with a high propensity for drug trafficking”, the DEA said. “These Hot Spots include known trafficking routes, border crossing points, entertainment venues, shipping ports, transportation stations, and other locations used by drug traffickers.”
While the U.S. now appears to be hot on the trail of the druglord, historian Alfred McCoy claims in his landmark 1972 book, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, that Wei Hsueh-kang had previously worked as a CIA operative when the Agency was backing the anti-Mao Kuomintang (KMT) forces in Burma in the 1950s and 1960s.
He had fled to Wa state after the communist takeover in China and lived with his two brothers in the Wa Hills, all of whom worked for the KMT-CIA network along the Shan-Yunnan border. He then began to work as treasurer for the notorious Khun Sa, who led the Mong Tai Army and in his heyday from the 1970s to the mid-1990s was known as the ‘Opium King’, at one point heading the FBI’s most wanted list.
In recent years Wei Hsueh-kang has moved into Burma’s booming methamphetamine trade, for which Thailand has become a key market. Tolerance of the drug in Thailand is zero, and drug enforcement officials launch regular crackdowns on suspected traffickers.
The following commentary is reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.
The Spanish Connection
© Aurobinda Mahapatra
Source: Strategic Culture Foundation
December 6, 2010
Under what is called Operation Kampai the nexus of international terrorism worldwide has been further reinforced. The operation carried jointly by the Spanish and Thai police has unraveled a spurious network which has its operations spreading from Spain to Thailand and other parts of Europe and Asia. The network further corroborated the argument that international terrorism is appearing invincible and indomitable, with rising ranks of the terrorists, and with the involvement of more groups from different countries – from Yemen to Pakistan, from Nigeria to Thailand and so on. The arrest of the ringleader in the network in Thailand also brought to picture that the group has not only network office in Barcelona, but also in other European cities like Brussels and London. The group on behalf of one World Islamic Front provided fake passports, fake credit cards, cell phones, etc. to operatives of Al Qaeda, and many other groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) linked to it.
As the international media flashed on 1 December 2010 the photographs of culprits arrested in Barcelona, the picture of this particular international terror network came to surface. The Spanish police arrested seven people including six Pakistani nationals and one Nigerian national in the morning hours of 1st of December. The group was engaged in the task of stealing passports and other crucial items such as credit cards from the tourists visiting Barcelona, and sending them to Thailand for forgery so that they could be used for terrorist purposes. As the Thai police stated, “The group supplies fake passports to many groups, including those involved in terrorism, credit card fraud, human trafficking, weapons trading and illegal immigration.” The Spanish police claimed to have seized nine passports awaiting shipment to Thailand and another that had already been forged, along with a computer and 50 cell phones during the ongoing operation. The Thai police arrested two Pakistanis and one Thai, named Muhammad Athar Butt, Zeeshan Ehsan Butt and Sirikanya Kitbamrung at the border while they were trying to escape to Laos. Athar Butt, also known as Tony, was the head of the operation, and had under his control the offices of Brussels and London. But it is naïve to believe that the network has been busted in its totality. It may be the tip of the iceberg.
On a larger scale the terrorist linkages are with every passing day and with every new revelation appear evidently wide and global. The Madrid train bombings in the year 2004 had killed more than 190 people besides injuring 1,500. In August 2009, Spanish police had arrested a Moroccan suspected of recruiting extremists through internet and helping them to go Pakistan’s Waziristan area, Afghanistan and Chechnya. Earlier in January 2008, the Spanish police had arrested 14 men, accused of being part of a wider suicide plot to target places in continental Europe. The Catalonia region of Spain has recently witnessed much turbulence, owing partly to immigrant communities, and particularly those who became influenced by extreme version of Islam. According to research institute, Elcano, 16 out of 28 anti-terrorist operations carried out since Madrid attacks of 2004 took place in the Catalonia region. Not only Spain but also the whole Europe is increasingly included in the terrorist radar. Few months back, trained militants from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border areas were arrested, who were trained to strike targets across Europe, particularly Germany.
The name of Al Qaeda and its sister organizations, particularly Pakistan based LeT appeared widely in connection with recent arrests. What is more worrying is that the increasing collusion between these groups in devising common agenda and operations. Iliyas Kashmiri, an Al Qaeda operative with links with LeT, plays a major role in masterminding attacks in Europe. While Lashkar’s major focus is India, in recent years it has increased its operations beyond India and trained terrorists from other regions including Chechnya, Germany, Central Asia, etc. to give concrete shape to its operations. As media highlighted, the network arrested this month also provided necessary instruments such as fake passports to LeT to make its India operation successful. LeT was the main force behind the Mumbai terror attack in 2008, which killed more than 160 people, besides injuring hundreds. The fragile situation in Afghanistan-Pakistan region has further bolstered the LeT spirit to act in an unrestrained manner.
The collusion between forces like the Taliban, LeT and Al Qaeda has proved dangerous and may prove further disastrous in coming years. Perhaps it was incomprehensible a decade back that the terror networks could be so wide and so dangerous in terms of its operation and reach. Of late, it has almost become beyond comprehension to see terror network existing almost everywhere, in every part and corner of the world. The Indian government claimed that in the last few years it has defused about 800 sleeping terror cells on Indian soil itself. It is also common knowledge how part of the money to fund Mumbai terror network was routed through the north Italian town of Brescia. With huge support system including finance from smuggling and drug trafficking, the terrorist forces are playing dangerous games in the world.
But what is more important is the issue of perception among the terrorists as well as non-terrorists. Addition of religion colour made terrorist ploys further deadly, and at times made the differentiation between religious propagation and propagation of violence blurred. Hence, the more dangerous is the brainwashing of the innocent minds to take to guns for some inexplicable reasons, or for reasons not explicable rationally. When the young educated skilled men join the terror groups with a religious extremist zeal and provide guidance and intelligence support, then it becomes difficult on part of the governments to tackle them by mere means of force. The Pune arrests by India in 2009 showed how the young professionals such as doctors and engineers were actively involved in terrorist operations and designs.
The recent arrests in Spain and Thailand may appear trifle in terms of the mammoth networks the terror groups have raised worldwide. This global problem obviously needs a global approach. It may not be prudent enough to raise merely the security system at home of a particular country, and leaving the situation as it is at abroad. This approach lacks one of the crucial components terror groups employ in their operations, which is the penetration of the mind of the uninitiated. While illegal trafficking in arms and passports can be curtailed though even in that it is necessary to have international cooperation, the flow of radical and extremist ideas is difficult to be contained by computers or machines. This brings the most urgent necessity of the time to the fore: a collective approach to tackle the collective menace. The recent revelations just reinforce this argument.
The following article is reprinted with permission from Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB).
DKBA renegades seize border town
By Naw Noreen
November 7, 2010
A group of defectors from the pro-junta Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) have taken control of a major border crossing and military and police posts in eastern Burma.
The head of the faction, Brig-Gen Na Kham Mwe, told DVB that the group had seized the Thai-Burma Friendship Bridge entrance in Karen state’s Myawaddy, as well as police, army and intelligence offices.
“They [Burmese army] announced that they will shoot people who don’t vote [in today's elections]. So people called on us to seize the town,” he said.
“In order to win votes in the elections, [the junta] is bullying and forcing people to vote. But the people want to boycott [the vote], so the soldiers are holding them at gunpoint and our troops had to intervene and take sides with the people.”
The breakaway DKBA group, comprised of former junta loyalists who refused to transform into a Border Guard Force (BGF), has some 1,000 troops in Myawaddy, Na Kham Mwe said.
The DKBA now “has control of every location” and police and Burmese troops have withdrawn from the town, he added. Myawaddy acts as a major crossing point for trade between Thailand and Burma, but the checkpoint has been closed since July following a dispute between the two governments.
Na Kham Mwe said that around 200 troops from the Border Guard Force had this morning defected to his faction, while opposition Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) troops arrived today to aid the renegades.
A Japanese journalist was arrested early this morning in Myawaddy after illegally crossing the border. It is not clear whether he is being held in one of the said police stations.
The following article is reprinted with permission from Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N.), Thailand.
Thai-Burma border closure ordered
October 28, 2010
Thailand’s Third Regional Army that oversees security along the Thai-Burma border has imposed stricter restrictions on its temporary border checkpoints following a report yesterday that a number of people had been detained on charges of planning to blow up the Rangoon International Airport and other public buildings in Rangoon, Mandalay and Naypyitaw.
The suspects are being accused of having connections to the border-based anti-Naypyitaw armed movements: All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF) and Karen National Union (KNU).
According to the Third Army’s directive, the restrictions will remain in force until 14 November, a week after the planned elections in Burma.
Other prominent armed opposition movements based on the Thai-Burma include New Mon State Party (NMSP), Karenni National Progress Party (KNPP), Shan State Army (SSA) South and the United Wa State Army (UWSA). All have declared that the election is a farce.
The following article is reprinted with permission from Kavkaz Center, Caucasus Emirate (mujahideen) news agency.
U.S. accuses Russia in supplying weapons to al-Qaida and Taliban
© Kavkaz Center
August 25, 2010 13:51 Emirate Time
American and other Western media are closely following the case of a major international terrorist Victor Bout, who is preparing to be sent to an American prison.
Bout is not a private person, but an envoy of Russia in the secret supply of weapons to the world from the arsenals of the Russian army.
While Bout has not been charged in the official indictment, designed for Thai justice, in the secret arms supply to al-Qaida and Taliban, literally all, without exception, Western press writes that Bout supplied weapons to militias, not only in Colombia, and local wars in Africa, but also to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, whom the U.S. is at war with.
In any case, Bout will be forced to open his mouth when he will be in the hands of Americans and it is still unknown what Moscow’s secrets he could reveal.
The German state news agency DPA, for example, reports from Moscow:
“The U.S. voiced its pleasure after the Thai court extradition ruling, with Washington regarding Bout as one of the world’s biggest arms traders. Among other crimes, he is suspected of trying to sell anti-aircraft missiles to FARC rebels in Colombia and to have supplied the Taliban in Afghanistan and al-Qaeda with arms.”
BBC English service: “Media reports in the Middle East claim Bout was a gun-runner for al-Qaeda and the Taliban.”
Agence France-Presse: “Among the charges of Washington against Bout is that he sold weapons to groups that are part of Al-Qaeda.”
Der Spiegel: “He was also to supply the radical Islamist Taliban in Afghanistan and the terrorist network al-Qaida.”
Gawker Daily: “Bout is also accused of selling weapons to Al Qaeda and the Taliban.”
The Daily Mirror: “Viktor Bout, 43, accused of supplying al-Qaeda and the Taliban with weapons, faces life in jail.”
The ADN (Spain): “British and American intelligence services believe that Bout supplied weapons and negotiated with the Taliban. According to the FBI, the defendant supplied weapons to al-Qaida, which attacked U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001.”
Channel 4 (U.K.): “Bout is a man who sold arms to al-Qaida.”
RTT News (U.S.): “U.S. officials accused him of supplying arms to al-Qaeda and Taliban.”
Meanwhile, it is possible that Moscow is preparing an attack on a police escort during the delivery of Bout from to an American plane. The possible operation by the terrorist gang of FSB Russia in Bangkok is facilitated by the fact that they absolutely do not need Bout alive.
The RIA News reports in a title: “It is impossible to bring back Bout from Thailand legitimately.”
Department of Monitoring
[End. Underlined emphasis added.]
The following article is reprinted with permission from Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N.), Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Weapon parts seized in Thailand could be for Burma’s rebels
March 16, 2010 16:55
Thai police think the illegally made M79 grenade launcher parts seized in Ayutthaya on 13 March and more in the neighboring Samut Prakan on the next day are for the United Wa State Army (UWSA) that is currently at loggerheads with Burma’s ruling military junta over the Border Guard Force (BGF) deal, according to the news community in Bangkok.
The factory owner Cherdyod Jirawattanarak had reportedly admitted that he had already delivered over 1,000 of the parts to the arms traffickers. Police found 600 completed parts for the M79 grenade launchers.
Chief of Police Region #1 Krissada Pankongchuen said his investigators had yet to conclude that the seizures were linked to the red shirt demonstrations that began on 13 March, the same day the seizure was made.
“But the huge quantity of the seizure indicates that they are likely to be more for export than for internal use,” a newsman quoted the police as saying.
Demand for arms and ammo have been on the rise since tensions between the Burma Army and the UWSA were on the rise since last year.
Though they are more easily purchased in China, with which the Wa share a common border, transporting them to the Thai-Burma border through several checkpoints set up by the Burma Army has been an unsolvable problem, according to Wa sources.