The Army is currently engaged in two fights in southwest Asia. However, future conflicts could possibly be brewing throughout all of south and southeast Asia. The largest Islamic country in the world is not in the Middle East but is in Asia: Indonesia with approximately 197 million Muslims. And throughout southern Asia, insurgency and radicalization is on the rise. At a recent conference in Bangladesh, Major General (Retired) A.N.M. Muniruzzaman of the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies announced south Asia is now the “epicenter for global terrorism.” Not one of the attendees from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the United States, Canada, Germany, Norway, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore disagreed with him.
The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General issued a report in May 2011 titled “Supervision of Aliens Commensurate with Risk” that details Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) detention and supervision of aliens. The report includes a list of Specially Designated Countries (SDCs) that are said to “promote, produce, or protect terrorist organizations or their members”. The report states that ICE uses a Third Agency Check (TAC) to screen aliens from specially designated countries (SDCs) that have shown a tendency to promote, produce, or protect terrorist organizations or their members and that the purpose of the additional screening is to determine whether other agencies have an interest in the alien. ICE’s policy requires officers to conduct TAC screenings only for aliens from SDCs if the aliens are in ICE custody.
Thai press has a high level of freedom and does not hesitate to criticize government leaders, but most broadcasters are under state control. Internet use is increasing and provides a forum for political debate; it is, however, subject to state censorship, particularly of content that is seen as pornographic or offensive to Thailand’s widely respected royal family. Television has by far the largest audience, but Thais tend to rely on newspapers for news.
Thai academics have sounded the alarm over the appearance of online groups dedicated to harassing and mocking red-shirt members, warning the government’s failure to stop such campaigns could lead to further division and bloodshed. One of these newly emergent online groups, “Social Sanction”, posts personal information on red-shirt supporters and encourages its members to mete out “social punishment.” Academics warn these online campaigns, which they speculate the government quietly endorses, could create an environment “full of fear and hatred” and lead to open violence, outcomes at odds with ongoing government efforts to promote reconciliation.