US embassy cable - 02RANGOON1310

ARAKAN ROHINGYA NATIONAL ORGANIZATION CONTACTS WITH AL QAEDA AND WITH BURMESE INSURGENT GROUPS ON THE THAI BORDER

Identifier: 02RANGOON1310
Wikileaks: View 02RANGOON1310 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Rangoon
Created: 2002-10-10 05:01:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PTER PINS PGOV PREL BG TH BM Ethnics
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 RANGOON 001310 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV 
CINCPAC FOR FPA 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/07/2012 
TAGS: PTER, PINS, PGOV, PREL, BG, TH, BM, Ethnics 
SUBJECT: ARAKAN ROHINGYA NATIONAL ORGANIZATION CONTACTS 
WITH AL QAEDA AND WITH BURMESE INSURGENT GROUPS ON THE THAI 
BORDER 
 
Classified By: COM CARMEN M. MARTINEZ; REASON 1.5(D). 
 
1. (C) Summary:  Under pressure from Bangladesh, the Arakan 
Rohingya National Organization (ARNO) contacted the Karenni 
National Progressive Party in late August 2002 regarding the 
possibility of relocating its bases to KNPP-controlled 
territory on the border between Thailand and Burma. According 
to a report prepared by Burmese military intelligence, ARNO 
also sought membership in the Democratic Alliance of Burma, a 
loose confederation of Burmese insurgent groups now operating 
on the Thai/Burmese border.   KNPP reportedly refused ARNO's 
request.  The DAB also rejected ARNO's application for 
membership, but has forged a "military alliance" with ARNO, 
according to the paper.  The Burmese also report that ARNO's 
Chairman Nurul Islam, has received a U.S. visa and is en 
route to the United States via Saudi Arabia.  The facts in 
the Burmese paper appear plausible.  Its purpose is probably 
to draw a connection between Al Qaeda, which has supported 
ARNO, and Burmese insurgent groups active on the Thai border. 
 End Summary. 
 
2. (C) The following are edited excerpts from a Burmese 
military intelligence report on the Arakan Rohingya National 
Organization.  It was given to us on October 7 by Brigadier 
General Kyaw Thein, ostensibly to clarify recent news reports 
alleging connections between Al Qaeda and ARNO forces based 
in Burma.  According to Kyaw Thein, there are links between 
ARNO and Al Qaeda, but all of ARNO's bases are in southeast 
Bangladesh. 
 
3. (C) Begin text: 
 
Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO) -- Its 
Historical Background & Latest Situation (Sept, 2002) 
 
Historical Background 
 
Muslim Terrorist-Insurrection groups such as the Rohingya 
Solidarity Organization (RSO), Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front 
(ARIF) and Hak Kavt group combined and established the 
Rohingya National Council (RNC) on 28 October, 1998.  The RNC 
was then reorganized as the Arakan Rohingya National Council 
(ARNC).  The Rohingya Liberation Army (RLA) was also formed 
by combining all the armed insurgents of the groups.  The 
Arakan Rohingya National Organization was formed to organize 
all the different Rohingya insurgents into one group under 
pressure from Muslim groups outside Burma. 
 
Organization of ARNO 
 
The headquarters of ARNO was opened at No. (30 Ju-ma-khar 
street, Ju-ma-khar ward, Chittagong in Bangladesh.  Their 
camps are based at Zai-Lar-Saw-Ri HQ camp--map reference 
(PG-2916), Daw-Maw-Sri camp--map reference (P6-0537) and 
Kyar-Laung-Taik camp--map reference (PG-2026).  ARNO group 
had an estimated strength of about 200 insurgents, of whom 
about 170 are equipped with a variety of arms.  A Central 
Committee of ARNO is organized as follows: 
 
(a)  Chairman 
(b)  Military Commander 
(c)  Secretary 
(d)  Asst Secretary (Chittagong Office-in-Charge) 
(e)  Central Committee Member (Asst Military-in-Charge) 
(f)  do 
(g)  Central Committee Member 
(h)  do 
(i)  do 
(j)  Foreign Liaison-in-Charge 
(k)  Foreign Fund Raiser 
(l)  Representative for Malaysia 
(m)  Cox's Bazaar District Organizer 
(n)  Finance Officer 
(o)  Liaison Officer 
(p)  Advisor 
(q)  Camp Commander (Zai-La-Saw-Ri Camp) 
(r)  Deputy Camp Commander 
(s)  Camp Commander (Daw-Maw-Sri Camp) 
(t)  Camp Commander (Kya-Long-Taik Camp) 
 
Meeting of Five Members of ARNO with Taliban leader Osama Bin 
Laden 
 
Five members (names still under inquiry by the GOB) of ARNO 
attended a high-ranking officers' course with Al Qaeda 
representatives on 15 May, 2000 and arrived back in 
Bangladesh on 22 June.  During the course, they discussed 
matters relating to political and military affairs, arms and 
ammunition, and financing with Osama Bin Laden.  Mohamed Arju 
Taida and Mohamed Rau-Sheik Ar-Mar Darsi from the Taliban 
were present with them at the meeting.  Ninety members of 
ARNO were selected to attend a guerrilla warfare course, a 
variety of explosives courses and heavy-weapons courses held 
in Libya and Afghanistan in August, 2001.  Thirteen out of 
these selected members participated in the explosives and 
heavy-weapons training. 
 
Arrival of Two Taliban at ARNO Headquarters 
 
Al Ha-Saud and Al Ja-hid, two members of Taliban group, 
arrived at ARNO's headquarters in Zai-La-Saw-Ri Camp on 2 
November, 2001 from the Rohingya Solidarity Organization's 
(RSO) Kann-Grat-Chaung camp.  They met with Nur Islam 
(Chairman), ZaFaur-Ahmed (Secretary) and Fayos Ahmed (acting 
Chief-of-Staff Army), ARNO, and discussed the reorganization 
of RSO and ARNO.  It was learned that ARNO/RSO and Taliban 
groups planned to hold a meeting on 15 November, 2001. Nur 
Islam, Chairman of ARNO, also declared that the Arakan 
Rohingya Islamic Front (ARIF) and the Rohingya Solidarity 
Organization (RSO) had agreed to reorganize as integrated 
members of ARNO. However, Mullah Dil-Mar from RSO did not 
agree with this re-organization and resigned with his 
entourage of insurgents. 
 
Foreign Correspondents Arrived at ARNO Headquarters 
 
Ban-Draban correspondent from Bangladesh, Ha-Saud-Ahmed and 
two foreign correspondents (still under inquiry by GOB) went 
to ARNO's headquarters at the Zai-La-Saw-Ri Camp and met with 
the acting Camp Commander who was Chief-of-Staff Army Salein. 
They inquired about the following data. 
 
(a)  Day, Month and Year of establishment of ARNO 
organization. 
(b)  Attitude and objective. 
(c)  The year the ARNO had departed from Myanmar. 
(d)  Present strength of forces and fighters. 
(e)  Types of Arms and Quantity. 
(f)  Is it to build Rakhine as a separate and an independent 
(State/Nation) or to ask for Democracy? 
(g)  List of Anti-Myanmar groups in Bangladesh. 
(h)  Muslim organizations and Non-Muslim organizations in 
Bangladesh to be separately identified. 
(i)  Necessary funding and funding countries. 
(j)  The present financial situation. 
 
Vice Chairman of ARNO Fayos Ahmed's Meeting with Insurgent 
Leaders based and active in Thailand 
 
Fayos Ahmed, Vice-Chairman of ARNO, along with U Maung Lu Gyi 
from NUPA (National Unity Party of Arakan), arrived in 
Bangkok from Bangladesh on 27 August, 2002 and proceeded to 
Chiang Mai.  Then, through the Burma Border Consortium, 
including the help of an English woman named Mrs. Pippa 
Curwen, wife of DAB Aye Saung, they talked with the leaders 
of KNPP (Karenni National Progress Party) -- Aung Than Lay 
(Vice Chairman), Raymond Htoo (General Secretary), U Khu-Ral 
(joint General Secretary) and Aung Myat (Chief of Staff - 
Army).  Fayos Ahmed said that ARNO had been told to leave 
Bangladesh by the Bangladesh authorities and that it was 
difficult for them to continue in Bangladesh.  He also 
mentioned that the USA and other various organizations were 
continuously watching them on account of assumed contacts 
with the Al-Qaeda group.  So he asked for a camp to be opened 
in a suitable place in the area of KNPP, in as much as 
Thailand was the most suitable country for them. 
 
Then Fayos Ahmed met with Mai-Aik-Hpone, Secretary of 
Pa-Laung State Liberation Front (PSLF), Khun-Okkar, Chairman 
of Pa-O People Liberation Organization (PPLO) and Aye Maung 
from the Lahu national group.  In addition, he discussed the 
ARNO's critical situation with Chiang Mai-based VOA, BBC and 
RFA news media, NGOs in Thailand and Shwe-Kharr of the Chin 
National Front (CNF).  He proceeded from Chiang Mai to Mae 
Sod on 5 September and talked with Bo Mya (Vice-Chairman), 
Pado Man-Sha (General Secretary) and Tar-Ma-La-Baw at KNU 
headquarters. 
 
Fayos Ahmed discussed with KNU the above mentioned matters 
and the possibility of ARNO's becoming a member of DAB. 
Application for a membership in DAB by ARNO was not granted 
on the objection of Aung Sein Tha from Democratic Party of 
Arakan (DPA) and Khaing Soe Aung from Arakan Liberation Party 
(ALP).  Both Khaing Soe Aung and Aung Sein Tha bitterly 
rejected the proposal on the grounds that the Rohingya were 
not indigenous to Rakhine State and that they could not 
accept them at all as ethnic people.  Though DAB has not 
granted the membership to ARNO, it has made a military 
alliance with ARNO. 
 
According to Fayos Ahmed, ARNO Military-in-Charge, Salem 
Ulah, had contacts with Al-Qaeda and some members of ARNO 
forces were arrested when they were sent to join the Taliban 
in Afghanistan and attacked the Americans.  These ARNO forces 
were sent to Afghanistan along with Rohingya groups in 
Karachi, Pakistan. Rohingya groups are in many countries like 
Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, UAE, Palestine and 
Australia.  Chairman Nurul Islam has received an American 
visa and departed for Saudi Arabia from Bangladesh, with an 
intent to reside in Saudi Arabia for a short period and then 
depart for the United States.  Fayos Ahmed, during his short 
stay in Thailand, met with Dr. Allen from NCGUB Foreign 
Affairs Department, David Htaw from KNU and David Smile from 
Burma Lawyer Council (BLC).  He went to Thailand as an editor 
of a news media and returned to Bangladesh on 12 September. 
 
Investigation of Members of Rohingya Jihad Caught in Singapore 
 
Hanbali and Baasyia are leaders of Jemaah Islamiyah 
(JI)-organized Rabitatul Mujahideen group which was involved 
in the whole region as a Muslim organization.  Through 
contacts with Muslim groups in the region, active cooperation 
was achieved in matters of training, weapons-buying, 
financing, exchange of information and terrorist military 
operations.  The other organizations which cooperated were 
Gerakan Aceh Merdeka (GAM), two organizations in Southern 
Thailand and Rakhine and Rohingya terrorist-insurgents in 
Myanmar.  ARNO has established a contact with Al-Qaeda and 
five Central Committee members of ARNO paid a visit to 
Afghanistan in April, 2001.  Besides, ARNO has also 
cooperated with Republic of Islam Aceh (RIA) and Egyptian 
Jammah Jihad Mesir (JJM).  It is believed that there exists a 
small community of Rohingya's in Patuwat, Malaysia. 
 
End text. 
 
Comment 
 
4. (C) The Burmese report has enough specificity to make it 
generally plausible. The Government of Bangladesh advised 
ARNO in May that it had to clear out of its bases in 
southeastern Bangladesh and, shortly thereafter, 195 members 
of the Arakan Army turned themselves in to the Burmese.  As 
yet, ARNO has not moved from Bangladesh.  According to the 
Burmese, ARNO and RSO together still maintain eight bases in 
Bangladesh.  If the Burmese report is correct, however, they 
are looking for a new base of operations. 
 
5. (C) The Burmese view all these groups as terrorists. 
Their purpose in giving us this report is to make sure we are 
aware of the alleged contacts between ARNO and the Burmese 
insurgent groups on the Thai border.  Presumably, they hope 
to bolster relations with the United States by getting credit 
for cooperation on the CT front.  End Summary. 
Martinez 

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