Thai soldiers in Iraq (AFP)
More fallout from the Spanish appeasement.
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Thailand’s embassy in Sweden has received a letter threatening the Southeast Asian country with attacks like those on Spain in retaliation for sending troops to Iraq, Thai and Swedish officials said on Wednesday.
“Since Thailand has cooperated with U.S.A., the Satan’s states, and have interfered in the concern of Iraq by sending 443 Thai soldiers to the occupied land, we have our duty to inform you that Thailand is one of our targets after Spain,” reads the letter, in ungrammatical English and dated March 31.
The Swedish Foreign Ministry confirmed the text of the letter, which concludes with the Muslim phrase “Insha Allah” or “God be willing” and the phrase: “Peace be upon those who follow the guidance.”
Thai officials said it was signed with the Arabic name Al Bashir al-Makkawi.
“We are aware of this and we are working on it,” said a senior officer at Sweden’s Sapo security police.
“An investigation is under way into where it came from and who sent the letter,” Bengt Berglund, an inspector at Stockholm police’s diplomatic unit, told Reuters. It was the first such threat reported by any embassy in Stockholm since the March 11 Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people, Berglund said.
Thailand has about 440 medical and engineering troops in the southern Iraqi city of Kerbala, 60 miles south of Baghdad, but the Thai Foreign Ministry said that they were not involved in military operations.
In Bangkok, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told reporters Thai troops were only in Iraq for humanitarian reasons.
“I can assure you that nothing will happen. Muslims know that Thais go there to help them, not to kill them,” he said.
Two Thai soldiers were killed in a truck bomb attack in Kerbala in December last year.
The deaths shocked many Thais and sparked criticism that the government had failed to explain to the public the risks of deploying troops, even on a humanitarian mission, to Iraq.
Bangkok has forged closer ties with Washington since the arrest in Thailand last year of Hambali, the suspected mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings and operations chief for the al Qaeda-linked militant group, Jemaah Islamiah.
Thailand and the United States have been sharing intelligence on a spate of violence in Thailand’s largely Muslim south, where about 60 people have been killed since January.
Thai security officials blame Muslim separatists, renegade officials and local mafias for the violence. But some senior officials have said they suspected the local separatists might have received support from foreign militant groups.
ADDENDUM: “Allah” has alerted me to this IHT article, which makes it quite clear that appeasement is indeed what the Spanish want, and why they elected Zapatero. In other words, the opinions of many analysts “” that the Spanish election results were caused by anger at outgoing Prime Minister Aznar’s initial blaming of ETA for the Madrid bombings “” is dead wrong.
“This is all the fault of the United States; they got us into this,” said Santiago RuÃz, a 55-year-old electrician who lives in suburban LeganÃ©s, a block from where the four suspects killed themselves and a police officer on Saturday. “The way to combat terrorism isn’t the way Bush has done. Spain is paying the consequences of its solidarity with the United States.”
In the city center, Alejandro RodrÃguez, 36, agreed: “We should withdraw from Iraq right now. Why wait until June? Do we want to wait for more attacks?”
Pointing to the bloody clashes in Iraq between Spanish troops and local Shiites in recent days, RodrÃguez said Spanish soldiers were creating enemies.
Thousands of people have taken to Madrid’s streets over the past two days, protesting against terrorism and decrying Spain’s involvement in Iraq. Many banners focused on the war, reading “Get the troops out of Iraq now” and “No more blood for oil.”
“There is a growing feeling in the population that there is a direct link between our troops in Iraq and the terrorist threat – it’s an emotional reaction,” said Araceli Mangas, professor of political science at the University of Salamanca. “It’s irrational and incoherent, but it’s real. The new government needs to explain very carefully why it is pulling troops out, if it does.”