Eskay carried out the meeting with the knowledge of the Malaysian government, but without the participation of Malaysian officials, and recorded the encounter. In a departure from previous meetings, the young leaders rejected any possibility of political dialogue. Instead, they declared they had taken a vow to establish an independent Muslim Malay state, Pattani Darussalam, and would continue to carry out violence to achieve their aims.


Raja Petra Kamarudin






E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/21/2032








KUALA LUMP 00000447  001.2 OF 004


Classified By: Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Mark D. Clark for reasons 1.4 (b and d).


1. (S) Southern Thai militants recently asserted they will pursue more violence and reject talks, according to two Malaysian mediators from the defunct Mahathir peace process.

The Honorary Thai Consul in Langkawi, Shazryl Eskay Abdullah (protect throughout), joined by retired head of the Malaysian Royal Police, Norian Mai (protect throughout), told A/DCM he met with a group of seven young Thai Malay militant leaders in late February and they explicitly ruled out dialogue with the Thai government. 

Instead, in a hardening of their position, the insurgents explained their intention to carry out further violence in pursuit of their goal of secession under the banner of Pattani Darussalam.  Norian, who also served as Malaysia’s internal intelligence chief under Mahathir, stated the Thai Malay insurgents were better organized than previously thought. 

The militants were benefiting from some Middle East funding, via Singapore and Malaysia, possibly money solicited under false pretenses or diverted from humanitarian projects. 

Eskay, fresh from meetings with senior Malaysian officials, described a joint

Malaysian-Thailand decision to stand up respective committees to work on the insurgency issue, with Malaysia’s group headed by retired military intelligence chief Lt. General Wan Abu Bakar. 

Eskay and Norian appeared pessimistic the Malaysian committee would be effective, while noting GOM doubts about the longevity of the current Thai government.  End Summary.

GOM Consults Former Mediators

2.  (S) A/DCM and poloff met in Kuala Lumpur on March 6 with the Honorary Thai Consul in Langkawi, Shazryl Eskay Abdullah, and retired head of the Malaysian Royal Police, Norian Mai, as a follow-up to our initial meeting with Eskay in early February (ref A) that focused on the southern Thailand insurgency. 

Both Malaysians had served as lead mediators in the now defunct 2004-2006 peace process carried out under former Prime Minister Mahathir’s name.  The two men explained that the Malaysian government had not included them in a formal way in the GOM’s current approach to the southern Thailand issue because of their association with Mahathir (a frequent critic of PM Abdullah). 

Nevertheless, the GOM consulted them, in particular because of their past experience and their continued contacts with Thai Malay militants, as well as old guard leaders. 

Eskay explained he had completed two days of consultations in Putrajaya, which included a March 6 meeting with the deputy chief of the external intelligence agency, MEIO.  Eskay said he was scheduled to meet MEIO chief Fauzi on March 7.

Insurgents Will Fight for Malay/Muslim State

3.  (S) Eskay and Norian stated that there had been a clear hardening of position by the southern militants this year. Eskay explained he had met in late February with a contact group of seven young militant leaders somewhere along the Kelantan state border with Thailand (an eighth member of this group could not travel, while a ninth had been killed in fighting earlier in February). 

Eskay carried out the meeting with the knowledge of the Malaysian government, but without the participation of Malaysian officials, and recorded the encounter.  In a departure from previous meetings, the young leaders rejected any possibility of political dialogue. Instead, they declared they had taken a vow to establish an independent Muslim Malay state, Pattani Darussalam, and would continue to carry out violence to achieve their aims. 

The militants believed they could not trust Thai authorities and that in any event the Thai security services and civil authorities were so fractured that they had no confidence in those who might sit across the table.  Any major, seemingly positive gestures by Bangkok to reach out to ethnic Malays likely would be followed by fresh attacks by the militants in order to destroy any good will. 

Given their disinterest in dialogue, the militants might become increasingly difficult to contact, Eskay stated.

4.  (S) Eskay complained that the Thai government had widely circulated in the Thai Malay communities the February 2006 “Peace Proposal for Southern Thailand” that resulted from the Mahathir peace process (ref A).  Bangkok had not responded to the proposal. 

Thai authorities, however, employed this as part of their psychological operations campaign to undermine the insurgency with a document that implied a peace deal – carrying the signatures of the old guard leaders – had been agreed to, but was being undermined by the militants.  This further hurt Thai government credibility, in Eskay’s view.

Militants Better Organized

5.  (S) Norian commented that the militants employed a more sophisticated organization than most observers realized.  The seven members of Eskay’s contact group operated in concert, but in different areas.  Bombers and shooters who carried out attacks seemed to come from a central pool, relying on local cells to set up and guard the scenes of the attacks. 

Brokers carried out a linkage role by conveying instructions and money to the cells, with a standard fee schedule in place for assisting in bombings and drive-by shootings.  As if on cue, women and children quickly gathered to protest arrests of suspects by Thai authorities. 

Eskay believed it likely the southern insurgents would try to destroy targets of more economic importance in the south, as the militants sought to create a situation of chaos and dependence upon the insurgents themselves.  Norian added that the violence is very localized, and not as widespread as some media reports suggest.

Militants Move Through Kelantan

6.  (S) Eskay described Kelantan state as the primary Malaysian transit and sanctuary area for southern Thai militants (ref A).  In response to our direct question, Eskay and Norian said they had not seen indications of foreign militants in southern Thailand or Kelantan.

Alleged Foreign Funding Takes Another Route

7.  (S) The insurgents did benefit from some foreign funding, Eskay and Norian noted while also suggesting that at least some of the funds were collected for humanitarian purposes and diverted to the insurgents.  This funding generally did not pass through Kelantan but rather through the states of Perlis and Kedah. 

Building on remarks from early February (ref A), Eskay said militants received some money via a Singapore bank and he promised to supply us with more information on the bank in subsequent communications.  The money reached southern Thailand through the informal, traditional banking networks operated by money changers at the border points of Padang Besar (Perlis) and Bukit Kayu Hitam (Kedah).  Some of the money went to ethnic Malay political figures in southern Thailand, who then dispersed it to militants. 

Eskay named Yala province political leader Arifin (NFI) as one recipient who used the funding to support the insurgency.  As to the origin of foreign funding, Eskay said some of the money came from the Middle East in response to Thai Malay appeals to support humanitarian projects for fellow Muslims.  He pointed out that a number of the militants had studied or visited the Middle East in past years.  Regarding foreign travel, several old guard leaders based in Malaysia traveled overseas on Malaysian passports, he explained.

8.  (S) Note:  An international journalist told us that Eskay had informed him of a December 2006 visit to Dubai by old guard separatists from the Pattani United Liberation Organization (PULO) and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), during which they collected Arab donations. 

In early February Eskay told us he did not believe the Thai insurgents had linked up with external terrorist groups.  End Note.

Ending Dual Citizenship Threatens Militants

9.  (S) Norian and Eskay noted that a decision by Malaysia and Thailand to end the practice of dual citizenship (by employing biometric identification and requiring individuals to choose one nationality) appeared to threaten the Thai militants, who were angry at this decision by Malaysia. Eskay said the GOM had not thought through the consequences of this approach, which might spark a large influx of southern Thais into Malaysia because many Thai Malays would opt to leave for their southern neighbor if forced and able to choose.

Abdullah in Bangkok Not Offered Mediation Role

10.  (S) Norian and Eskay, speaking as private citizens but coming out of meetings with senior GOM officials, said the Malaysian government recognized its clear interest in seeing an end to the violence in southern Thailand.  While there were sympathies for the plight of fellow Malays, secession was a non-starter. 

Prime Minister Abdullah’s mid-February meeting in Bangkok, however, did not result in Thailand offering any mediation role to Malaysia.  In private conversation with Eskay, Deputy Prime Minister Najib insisted that Malaysia would need something official and in writing from Thailand in order to engage in any process. 

Uncertainty about the durability of the current Thai government factored into Malaysia’s interactions with Bangkok at this stage, making Malaysians less enthusiastic for working on southern Thailand issues, outside of border security.

Malaysia and Thailand Stand Up Security/Intel Committees

11.  (S) On the margins of Abdullah’s Bangkok visit, Malaysia and Thailand did agree to stand up security-focused committees tasked with examining bilateral approaches to ending the insurgency, Eskay explained.  Lt General (retired) Wan Abu Bakar, former Chief of Defense Intelligence, headed the Malaysian side, which included representatives from four agencies:  military intelligence, Police Special Branch, the external intelligence agency (MEIO), and the National Security Division of the Prime Minister’s Office. 

General Vaipot Srinual headed the Thai counterpart committee.  Norian and Eskay said the Malaysia committee had yet to meet and they were not sure it would become an effective body.

Comment and Biographic Notes

12.  (S) Eskay and Norian do not speak for the Malaysian government and are “outsiders” to some extent by virtue of their close association with Mahathir.  Nevertheless, they have significant interaction with Malaysia’s most senior officials dealing with southern Thailand.  Their pessimistic outlook on southern Thailand, and the likelihood the violence will continue or escalate, tracks with the views of many Malaysians in and out of government (ref B). 

Eskay credibly appears to have met with hundreds of Thai insurgents and sympathizers since 2004, and claims to have audio and video recordings of many encounters.  Eskay travels frequently to southern Thailand, while Norian said he rarely crosses the border. 

Eskay explained that to maintain the trust of Thai militants he does not provide their full information (e.g., cell phone numbers, exact physical locations of militants) to the GOM or Thai government.

13.  (S) Though describing themselves as part of Mahathir’s inner circle of friends, Eskay and Norian claimed they are not involved in party politics.  They readily admitted to being wealthy by virtue of their businesses.  Eskay said he sells diesel fuel to China and owns a large ranch in Kedah state. 

Eskay and Norian are partners in some ventures, including a fertilizer plant in southern Thailand.  As the child of a Malay-Thai marriage, Eskay speaks Thai and Malay, as well as fluent English.  He spent some 10 years studying and working in Oklahoma and Texas, and speaks fondly of the United States. 

According to the Royal Malaysian Police website, Norian Mai served as Police Special Branch chief from 1994 to 1997, and as Inspector General of Police from 1999 to 2002.  We believe Washington possesses substantial biographic information on Norian.