This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
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)
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:
(b) Military Commander
(d) Asst Secretary (Chittagong Office-in-Charge)
(e) Central Committee Member (Asst Military-in-Charge)
(g) Central Committee Member
(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
(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 Thai Burma Border Consortium (TBBC), 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.
¶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.
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