General Pallop Pinmanee (Thai: พัลลภ ปิ่นมณี) (born 25 May 1936) is a retired Thai Army general who took part in several coups, ordered the massacre of insurgents at Krue Sae Mosque and allegedly played a role in the attempted car bomb assassination of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. After the a 2006 military coup overthrew Thaksin, the military junta appointed Pallop the public relations adviser to the Internal Security Operations Command of Thailand.
Pallop graduated from Class 7 of the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, the so-called Young Turks, and began his career as a commando and self-professed assassin. With his Young Turk classmates, he was involved in successful military coups against the governments of Seni Pramoj and Tanin Kraivixien, and an unsuccessful April Fool's Day 1981 coup against the government of Prem Tinsulanonda. He admitted to being the mastermind behind a series of assassination attempts against General Arthit Kamlang-ek, commander of the Army under Prem. Pallop was later "rehabilitated" and retired from the Royal Thai Army with the rank of full general in 1996, but was appointed deputy director-general of the Internal Security Operations Command. It was in this position that he ordered military forces to storm Krue Sae Mosque during a tense stand-off with Southern insurgents. Dozens of insurgents died in the controversial move.
Some time later, Pallop's driver was found driving near the residence of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a car containing 67 kilograms of explosives. Pallop was immediately dismissed from his position. After the Thaksin government was deposed by a military coup, the junta appointed Pallop public relations adviser to the ISOC. Pallop later became a leader of the People's Alliance for Democracy.
Early life and career
He took part in special guerrilla warfare missions in Laos in 1966 and 1967, and the following year was appointed chief of the Special Thai Ranger Army, a volunteer unit which carried out clandestine, anti-communist guerrilla operations financed by the US Central Intelligence Agency against the North Vietnamese Army along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos. In 1970, he was appointed leader of a secret seven-man unit that carried out extrajudicial killings. “The assignment was to kill the leaders of communist groups all over Thailand,” he told a reporter. He claimed to have assassinated many suspected communists.
Pallop was appointed a senator by the military led government in 1979, and became commander of the 19th Infantry Regiment in 1980. He also played a role in operations in the Thai-Cambodian border during 1986 and 1987.
Pallop is known to have been involved in several coups. Along with other members of "Young Turks", he helped topple the elected government of Seni Pramoj after the massacre of 6 October 1976. He also took part in the coup against the ultra-conservative government of Tanin Kraivixien in 1977. During the Prem government, the Young Turks tried to seize power on 1 April 1981. When it became clear that the royal family continued to support Prem, the coup collapsed and Pallop fled to the Lao PDR to escape punishment. He was jailed for two months by the Laotian government. Pallop later admitted that he was the mastermind behind a series of assassination attempts against General Arthit Kamlang-ek, commander of the Army during Prem's administration.
Pallop was eventually allowed to rejoin the Royal Thai Army, and retired with the rank of full general in 1996, when he was appointed deputy director-general of the Internal Security Operations Command.
Krue Sae mosque incident
Pallop was appointed commander of the Southern Peace Enhancement Center to deal with the insurgency in southern Thailand. On 28 April 2004, more than 100 militants carried out attacks against 10 police stations across Pattani, Yala and Songkhla provinces in southern Thailand. 32 insurgents retreated to the Krue Sae Mosque, the main mosque in Pattani. A seven hour stand-off ended when Pallop, the most senior Army commander on the scene, ordered an assault on the mosque. All the insurgents were killed. He later said, "I had no choice. I was afraid that as time passed the crowd would become sympathetic to the insurgents, to the point of trying to rescue them."
It was revealed that Pallop's order to storm the mosque contravened a direct order by Defense Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh to seek a peaceful resolution to the stand-off no matter how long it took. Pallop was immediately ordered out of the area, and later tendered his resignation as commander of the Southern Peace Enhancement Center. The forward command of the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), which Pallop headed, was also dissolved. A government investigative commission found that the security forces had overreacted. The Asian Centre for Human Rights questioned the independence and impartiality of the investigative commission. In 3 May 2004 during a Senate hearing, Senator Kraisak Choonhavan, noted that most of those killed at Krue Se Mosque were shot in the head and there were signs that rope had been tied around their wrists.
The incident resulted in a personal conflict between Pallop and Defense Minister Chavalit, who was also director of the ISOC. Pallop later demanded that the Defense Minister stop any involvement in the management of the southern insurgency.
Opposition to Thaksin Shinawatra
Pallop is a noted critic of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. During protests in early 2006 against Thaksin, Pallop noted that “as a real friend and former classmate from military school, I fully support Chamlong (Srimuang) in his move (to oust Thaksin).” He also threatened Thaksin with a military coup if Thaksin did not resign from the premiership.
Assassination plot against Thaksin Shinawatra
Pallop was sacked from his position of ISOC Deputy Director after Lieutenant Thawatchai Klinchana, his driver, was found driving a car containing 4.5 kg of explosives around the residence of prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Metropolitan Police Bureau commissioner Lt-General Wiroj Jantharangsee noted that the explosives in the car were completely assembled, equipped with a remote unit sensor and ready to be detonated. Pol Major Kamthorn Ooycharoen, head of the police bomb-disposal squad at the scene, also noted that the bomb was live and ready for detonation. The bomb was composed of sticks of a remote control unit, M-8 military fuses, TNT, C-4 plastic explosives, and nine plastic containers containing ammonium nitrate fuel oil (ANFO).
Pallop denied all involvement, noting that "If had wanted to do it, I would have done it more subtly. In my career, I have led death squads. If I had wanted to kill him, the prime minister would not have escaped." He also claimed that "the explosives were being transported, they were not assembled to be detonated."
After the 2006 coup
A military coup overthrew the Thaksin government in 19 September 2006. The junta appointed Pallop public relations adviser to the ISOC in May 2007. He claimed that he would apply "secret tricks" and a negotiated approach that would not lead to violent clashes. "Don't see me as a man who favours violence," he said.
- New York Times, Thai Security Chief Vows a Tough Stand Against Muslim Separatists, 27 May 2007
- The Malaysian Insider, Feared Thai ex-general warns of bloodshed, 1 September 2008
- Bangkok Post, General urges two-pronged attack, 15 January 2006
- Sutin Wannabovorn, "Thai Ruling Party Lawmakers Sour on Thaksin", 21 February 2006
- Bangkok Post, "A controversial figure", 25 August 2006
- Bangkok Post, "General urges two-pronged attack", 15 January 2006
- The Nation, "Shattered by horrific events", 29 April 2006
- The Nation, "Southern Carnage: Kingdom Shaken", 29 April 2004
- Asian Centre for Human Rights, "Killings At Pattani's Krue Se Mosque And A Cover Up Enquiry"
- Wassana Nanuam, "Panlop to face trial for the storming of Krue Se mosque"
- Wassana Nanuam, "Security conflicts erupt in open"
- "Military Coup in the offing". 27 Feb 2006 09:46:41 -0800. Bangkok Post, "Panlop: Military coup possible", 27 February 2006
- The Nation, 'Bomb plot to kill Thaksin foiled', questions linger, 15 August 2006
- The Nation, "Explosives 'live and ready for detonation'", 26 August 2006
- http://nationmultimedia.com/2006/08/25/national/national_30011902.php The Nation, 'If I was behind it, PM would be dead', 25 August 2006, Retrieved 25 August 2006
- Bangkok Post, "Thaksin escapes bomb, fires Gen Pallop", 25 August 2006
- The Nation, "Army officer arrested in alleged car bomb attempt is Pallop's driver: police", 25 August 2006
- The Nation, "'If I was behind it, PM would be dead'", 25 August 2006
- Bangkok Post, Panlop plans to first tackle rallies in city, 12 May 2007