US - Southeast Asia
Chronology from Apr 2003 to Jul 2003
: Secretary Powell attends ASEAN Regional Forum meeting in Phnom Penh; calls on the Burmese government to release Aung San Suu Kyi from jail, referring to the military junta’s actions as “contemptible.”
: U.S. investigators assist Thai police who arrest a Thai national attempting to sell a large amount of radioactive material to terrorists. Cesium-137 could be used to create a “dirty bomb” and probably originated in stockpiles somewhere in the former Soviet Union.
: U.S. announces it is sending special customs inspectors to Malaysian ports, and Muslim countries, with instruments designed to detect chemical and radiological emissions from containerized cargo.
: Thai authorities arrest several JI suspects based on Singapore intelligence who were allegedly planning to bomb the U.S. embassy among other Western embassies.
: Bangkok’s The Nation reports that a Thai military source claims that the U.S. wishes to use a military base in Thailand for logistical support for attacks on terrorist groups in Southeast Asia. The U.S. embassy did not comment on the article.
: Thai PM Thaksin conducts an unofficial visit to the U.S. where he meets with President Bush to discuss trade and terrorism and for the first time declares Thailand “an ally” in the global fight against terrorism.
: The U.S. states that it suspects Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her entourage were ambushed by “government-affiliated thugs” on May 30 after which she was taken into custody and her party’s offices closed.
: U.S. and Philippine officials postpone for six months a joint training exercise in Jolo until more Philippine forces can be trained by U.S. troops to hunt down Abu Sayyaf remnants on the island.
: U.S. and Thailand launch joint naval training exercises (CARAT) involving 1,500 U.S. and 1,700 Thai uniformed personnel. Nine Thai frigates and four U.S. ships are participating.
: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz states that the Indonesian Army’s efforts to crush Aceh separatism by force will not succeed.
: Aung San Suu Kyi and 19 National League for Democracy (NLD) top party members placed into “protective custody” after violent clashes between her supporters and opponents. Junta announces closure of NLD offices in Rangoon.
: The second annual conference of Asia-Pacific defense ministers convenes in Singapore and is addressed by Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz who discusses the new U.S. emphasis on mobility of U.S. forces to respond to crises wherever they occur.
: Cambodian authorities close a Saudi-funded religious school and arrest three Egyptians allegedly linked to JI and the October 2002 terror bombing in Bali. The arrests were made on a tip from U.S. officials.
: Thailand announces the creation of task forces in the U.S. and Kuwait to seek Iraq reconstruction business after Washington gave the green light to Bangkok to join in concession bidding.
: The U.S. agrees to transfer 30 Huey helicopters to the Philippines to help build its counterinsurgency capability.
: U.S. signed a law enforcement assistance agreement with the Philippines to help the criminal justice system better deal with crime and terrorism.
: During a state visit to Washington by Philippine President Arroyo, President Bush announces $100 million in new aid for the Philippine Armed Forces and designates the Philippines “a non-NATO ally,” making it eligible for additional American arms.
: U.S. with EU, Japan, and the World Bank regret the Indonesian government’s decision to declare martial law in Aceh province, suspending negotiations with separatist rebels who have been fighting Jakarta for decades.
: Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) warns that U.S. forces will be in danger if they aid the Philippines in its fight against them.
: Malaysia protests a U.S. State Department warning that it is dangerous for Americans to visit the country.
: The annual Thai-U.S. Cobra Gold exercise begins with an emphasis on counterterrorism, peacekeeping, and the training of medical personnel in the treatment of SARS.
: The State Department issues a warning that al-Qaeda operatives, after the Saudi Arabia bombings, are now targeting Malaysia and the Philippines.
: The State Department labels Abu Sayyaf a continued threat in the southern Philippines and Malaysia’s Sabah.
: Balikatan-03, the joint U.S.-Philippine training exercise held this year for two weeks in Luzon, ends.
: U.S. Embassy criticizes the Thai government for killings associated with the crackdown on drug dealers and asked that the killers be apprehended and prosecuted. More than 2,000 people have been killed over the past three months in the anti-narcotics actions.
: The U.S. criticizes the Cambodian government’s lawlessness and expresses a lack of confidence in the UN-Cambodian agreement for the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders.
: Gracia Burnham, the American missionary held hostage for over a year by the Abu Sayaff, in a book describing the ordeal, accuses a Philippine general of demanding a 50 percent cut of the ransom. The deal fell through.
: A pro-U.S. rally of 2,000 takes place in Jolo, supporting the forthcoming Balikatan training exercise in this southern Philippines Muslim guerrilla stronghold.
: Secretary Powell praises Indonesia for cracking down on terrorism, including the trial of Abu Bakar Bashir, JI’s Indonesian leader.
: U.S. and Philippine forces launch a joint training exercise in Luzon with 1,200 U.S. soldiers and 2,500 Filipinos. Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes said the exercise was aimed to improve “combined combat readiness and interoperability.”
: U.S. permits families of U.S. diplomats to return to Indonesia, indicating that Jakarta’s crackdown on JI terrorists has greatly reduced the prospect of future attacks on Westerners.
: President Arroyo denies that the southern Philippines will become America’s next “battlefront” in the U.S. global war on terror.
: About 1,200 U.S. soldiers arrive in the Philippines to exercise with local troops in antiterrorist exercises scheduled from April 25-May 9.
: Indonesian prosecutors indict radical Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir for plans to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Singapore and the bombings of several churches in Indonesia in December 2000.
: Malaysian Acting Prime Minister Badawi insists that the U.S. prove that Iraq possessed WMD and calls on the UN to take a leading role in postwar Iraq.
: President Arroyo promises to send 500 peacekeepers and relief workers to Baghdad.
: Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri denounces the U.S. and Britain for practicing the “law of the jungle” by attacking Iraq in defiance of the UN.
: Philippine Armed Forces chief of staff confirms Balikatan 03-1 joint military exercise with the United States will be held in Jolo, but U.S. forces may not be deployed in parts of the province considered “too hostile.”
: Singapore accepts a squadron of Apache attack helicopters that will be based in Arizona and used for training there.
: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir insists that the UN take charge of peacekeeping and postwar reconstruction in Iraq with U.S. and UK troops withdrawing as soon as possible. Malaysia is ready to assist in Iraq reconstruction.
: Philippine intelligence reports released to the Associated Press show that Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) operatives captured by Singapore authorities with help from U.S. investigators planned to attack Western embassies, U.S. corporations, and crash a plane into Singapore’s airport.
: Director General of Indonesia’s Ministry of Defense Gen. Sudrajat states that the U.S. attack on Iraq is motivated by the American war on terror and not oil.
: More than 80,000 Muslims in southern Thailand rally to condemn the U.S. invasion of Iraq and burn an effigy of President Bush.
: Bangkok Post editorial accuses the United States of unilateralism and ignoring the rule of law in its invasion of Iraq, making the world a more dangerous place.
: The U.S. donates 33 trucks to the Philippine Armed Forces from its stocks in Japan to boost mobility in the southern Philippines.
: Indonesian Vice President Hamzah Haz calls President Bush “king of terrorists,” the only Indonesian leader to denounce the U.S. president personally.
: Malaysia announces it will proceed with a U.S.-supported Southeast Asian antiterrorist center despite Kuala Lumpur’s opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq. The center will benefit Malaysia through training and technology transfer as well as intelligence exchange.