Military officials in Thailand’s Deep South on Tuesday denied allegations from Malaysia’s police chief that a man arrested for suspected Islamic State (IS) links had been involved in smuggling weapons across the border between the two countries.
Muhammad Muzaffa Arieff Junaidi, a 27-year-old citizen of Malaysia and resident of the northern state of Kelantan, was arrested after having evaded capture by the authorities and crossing into the Thai Deep South two months ago, Malaysian Police Chief Khalid Abu Bakar announced over the weekend.
Muzaffa was one of six people with suspected IS links whose recent arrests in multiple Malaysian states were publicized by Khalid on Saturday.
“I can confirm that there is no evidence to prove that he [Muzaffa] smuggled weapons as claimed by Malaysian side,” Lt. Gen. Piyawat Nakwanich, the commander of the 4th Army that covers the insurgency-stricken Deep South, told BenarNews.
“Nevertheless we have measures to monitor the movement of illegal activities. In the past, we have cooperated with Malaysia in fighting illegal activities,” he said.
Earlier this month Piyawat said he had ordered his men to search for Muzaffa after the Malaysian police chief claimed the suspect had entered Thailand with weapons on March 22.
But on May 3, an immigrant police officer stationed at the Sungai Kolok border checkpoint in the southern Thai province of Narathiwat told BenarNews that Muzaffa had travelled in and out of Thailand “several times” and his last exit from the Thai side was recorded April 21.
On Tuesday, a Thai security official stationed in nearby Pattani province, said it was unlikely that arms had been smuggled to Malaysia from the Deep South conflict zone because separatist insurgents in the predominantly Muslim region were low on weapons and ammunition.
“It is highly impossible because the insurgents have no weapons, so they need to steal from the soldiers and police,” the official told BenarNews on condition of anonymity.
The source also rejected allegations made by Malaysia’s deputy prime minister last week, who cited intelligence reports in saying that recent terrorist attacks carried out in southern Thailand, Jakarta and in Marawi, in the southern Philippines, were all linked to the recent death of a Malaysian IS leader, Muhammad Wanndy Bin Mohamed Jedi.
“The Malay-Pattani people in the Deep South do not accept extremely violent ideology of IS and there are no conditions to join the IS,” he added.
Full story: BenarNews
Mariyam Ahmad and Ray Sherman
Pattani, Thailand and Kuala Lumpur
Copyright ©2017, BenarNews. Used with the permission of BenarNews.