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Cablegate: Anti-Terrorist Measure -- Rtg Requires Id For

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS BANGKOK 002665

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PTER TH
SUBJECT: ANTI-TERRORIST MEASURE -- RTG REQUIRES ID FOR
TELEPHONE CARD PURCHASES

REF: BANGKOK 2441

1. (U) Summary: In an effort to thwart or identify and
arrest separatist bombers, the RTG intends to require that
buyers of mobile phone SIM cards show their national ID cards
to register the purchase. Following the bombings in Hat Yai
and other locations in the south recently, the RTG is eager
to show its determination to track down the perpetrators.
Critics question the effectiveness of the measures. End
summary.

SUSPECTED USE OF MOBILE PHONES BY BOMBERS LEADS TO
RESTRICTIONS BY RTG

2. (SBU) The RTG announced on April 17 that buyers of
mobile telephone SIMs cards will have to produce either a
national identification card or a passport at the time of
purchase. In addition, according to press reports, all 21.5
million existing prepaid Thai and foreign mobile phone system
users in the country will be required to report their citizen
identification or their passport numbers to their phone
operators within six months. Phone services will be canceled
by the government if users do not meet the registration
deadline. The decision to regulate the use of SIM cards for
prepaid mobile phones was reportedly made in response to
Prime Minister Thaksin's instructions at the April 12 cabinet
meeting following the April 3 Hat Yai Airport bombing, in
which Thai authorities believe separatists detonated an
improvised explosive device using a mobile telephone.

3. (SBU) The new requirements were reportedly reached on
April 17 at a meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and
Interior Minister Police General Chidchai Vanasatidya and
attended by top security officials such as Defense Minister
Thammarak Issarangkura, National Security Council Secretary
General General Winai Phattiyakul, National Intelligence
Director Jumpol Manmai and Police Commissioner-General Kovit
Wattana, as well as officials from the Information and
Communications Technology Ministry (ICT).

THAKSIN SAYS NEW REQUIREMENTS STRICTLY SECURITY-RELATED

4. (U) Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told reporters
that the campaign to trace SIMs card users is intended to
follow and locate bombers quickly but must not undermine the
users' privacy. An ICT Ministry official told reporters that
the RTG is actively seeking the cooperation of service
providers nationwide in the registration effort. This will
theoretically prevent potential saboteurs from buying cards
in peaceful areas of the country to use in the troubled
provinces. With Cabinet endorsement, the ICT Ministry is
expected to draw up the requirements as ministerial
regulations which will then be signed by the ICT Minister and
published in the Government Gazette.

HOW EFFECTIVE?

5. (SBU) Comment: In the wake of the bombings at Hat Yai
airport and several other locations in the south earlier this
month (reftel), the RTG is eager to show that it is taking
measures to track down the perpetrators. It is hard to see
how this effort will have an impact on the use of bombs in
the south. Already critics are being heard. National
Reconciliation Commission (NRC) member and Muslim scholar
Asmadsomboon Bualuang complains that the measure does nothing
to resolve the overall situation in the south. Bangkok
Senator Seri Suwananond reacted to the measure by saying that
forged documents (and Bangkok is the center of an
international document forgery industry) will simply be used
by separatist bombers to purchase phone cards for use in
detonating improvised explosive devices. With virtually all
of these unknown persons who have set off bombs in the
southern border provinces over the past year still at large,
we expect the bombings to continue.

BOYCE

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