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 a 2006 military coup overthrew Thaksin, the military junta appointed Pallop public relations adviser to the Internal Security Operations Command of Thailand.
Pallop was a member of Class Seven of the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, the "Young Turks", where he befriended classmate Chamlong Srimuang. He began his military career as a commando and self-professed assassin. With his Young Turk classmates, Pallop 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 masterminding a number of assassination attempts against General Arthit Kamlang-ek, commander of the Army under Prem.
He participated in guerrilla-warfare missions in Laos in 1966 and 1967 and 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 1968. Two years later, he was appointed leader of a secret seven-man unit which carried out extrajudicial killings. "The assignment was to kill the leaders of communist groups all over Thailand", he told a reporter, and 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 the following year. He participated in operations along the Thai-Cambodian border in 1986 and 1987.
He was involved in several coups. With other members of the Young Turks, he helped topple the elected government of Seni Pramoj after the massacre of 6 October 1976. Pallop also participated in the 1977 coup against the ultra-conservative government of Tanin Kraivixien. 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 failed; although Pallop fled to the Lao PDR to escape punishment, he was jailed for two months by the Laotian government. He later admitted masterminding a number of assassination attempts against General Arthit Kamlang-ek, commander of the army in Prem's administration.
Although Pallop was rehabilitated and retired from the Royal Thai Army with the rank of general in 1996, he was appointed deputy director-general of the Internal Security Operations Command. In this position, he ordered military forces to storm the Krue Sae Mosque during a standoff with southern insurgents.
Krue Sae mosque incident
Pallop was appointed commander of the Southern Peace Enhancement Center to deal with 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. Thirty-two insurgents retreated to the Krue Sae Mosque, the main mosque in Pattani. A seven-hour standoff ended when Pallop, the 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 learned that Pallop's order to storm the mosque contravened an order by defense minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh to seek a peaceful resolution to the standoff, regardless of 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. Although a governmental investigative commission found that security forces had overreacted, the Asian Centre for Human Rights questioned the commission's independence and impartiality. During a 3 May 2004 Senate hearing, Senator Kraisak Choonhavan noted that most of those killed at Krue Se Mosque were shot in the head and had signs that rope had been tied around their wrists. The incident sparked conflict between Pallop and Defense Minister Chavalit (who was also director of the ISOC), and Pallop later demanded that the defense minister end his involvement in managing the southern insurgency.
Opposition to Thaksin Shinawatra
Pallop is critical of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. During protests against Thaksin in early 2006, Pallop said: "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.
Pallop was dismissed from his ISOC deputy-director position after Thawatchai Klinchana, his driver, was found driving a car containing 4.5 kg of explosives near Thaksin's residence. According to Metropolitan Police Bureau commissioner Wiroj Jantharangsee, the explosives were assembled, equipped with a remote sensor and ready to be detonated. Kamthorn Ooycharoen, head of the police bomb-disposal squad at the scene, confirmed that the bomb was ready for detonation. It was composed of a remote control unit, M-8 military fuses, sticks of TNT, C-4 plastic explosives, and nine plastic containers containing ammonium nitrate fuel oil (ANFO).
Pallop denied any involvement: "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". According to him, "The explosives were being transported; they were not assembled to be detonated."
After the 2006 coup
A military coup overthrew the Thaksin government on 19 September 2006, and the junta appointed Pallop public-relations adviser to the ISOC in May 2007. He promised to use "secret tricks" and negotiation, avoiding violent clashes: "Don't see me as a man who favours violence".
During the political crisis which began in October 2013, Pallop told 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). According to an Australian academic, Pallop was recruited to advise on dealing with "men in black" gunmen at protests; the term originated during the 2010 crackdown on red-shirt supporters, when mysterious armed figures emerged. Military sources have said that the "men in black" may be mercenaries.
- Sutin Wannabovorn, "Thai Ruling Party Lawmakers Sour on Thaksin", 21 February 2006
- New York Times, Thai Security Chief Vows a Tough Stand Against Muslim Separatists, 27 May 2007
- Bangkok Post, "A controversial figure", 25 August 2006[dead link]
- 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". Newsgroup: soc.culture.thai. 27 Feb 2006. Usenet: email@example.com. 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
- Wassana Nanuam (12 May 2007). "Panlop plans to first tackle rallies in city". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
- Joshua Kurlantzick (26 February 2014). "Get Ready for a Bloody End Game in Thailand". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
- Gavan Butler (25 February 2014). "Neros fiddle while Thailand’s slow burn threatens to flare". The Conversation Australia. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
- Wassana Nanuam; Achara Ashayagachat; Subin Khuenkaew (16 February 2014). "Here come the men in black, again". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
- Bangkok Post, General urges two-pronged attack, 15 January 2006[dead link]