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 was a member of Class 7 of the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, the so-called Young Turks, where he developed a close personal friendship with his classmate Chamlong Srimuang. He began his military 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 also admitted to being the mastermind behind a series of assassination attempts against General Arthit Kamlang-ek, commander of the Army under Prem.
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 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.
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 dismissed 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. 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. Police 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".
During the political crisis that began in October 2013, Pallop confirmed with the media in late February 2014 that he had been asked by the caretaker government to join the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO). An Australian academic claimed that the recruitment would be in regard to the "men in black" gunmen who became involved at protest sites—the term originated during the 2010 crackdown on red-shirt supporters, where mysterious armed figures also emerged. Military sources have stated that the "men in black" may be professional mercenaries.
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