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War on error and the Southern fire: How terrorism analysts get it wrong

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This extended, five-part critique of Conflict and Terrorism in Southern Thailand interrogates how terrorism experts have interpreted the recent escalation of violence in the Thai southern border provinces. It does so by questioning the authors' use of sources, and draws on a range of alternative Thai-and English-language sources to suggest that the authors have reached poorly founded conclusions. The first part considers the contemporary context of terrorism studies and argues that it is important to understand Conflict and Terrorism as a knowledge product influenced by that discipline. The second presents an overview of competing theories concerning events in Thailand, as background to the conclusions presented in Conflict and Terrorism . The third evaluates the book's conclusion that Thailand faces a renewed insurgency, largely driven by domestic factors and carried out by definable actors. The fourth part examines the authors' claim concerning the importance of a booklet titled Berjihad di Patani , which is said to have motivated insurgents involved in the 28 April 2004 “uprising.” The fifth will attend to some significant factual and interpretative errors that severely undermine the credibility of the book. Overall, the critique demonstrates that various interpretations of what is happening in the South of Thailand remain plausible, and the article concludes that the authors of Conflict and Terrorism were too poorly equipped to deal with these competing interpretations to offer any insights into the conflict.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: La Trobe University, Australia

Publication date: March 1, 2006

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