ISIS in Thailand: an unexpected challenge

The Bangkok Post newspaper  reported last Friday that in October about 10 people of Syrian origin, associated with a terrorist group "Islamic State"came to Thailand . According to Thai security services, their purpose there was the planning of terrorist acts against Russian tourists in Thailand. The country is traditionally a vacation spot for a large number of Russians, especially in Pattaya and Phuket. The newspaper also reported that Thai law enforcement agencies have contact with the Russian FSB and have increased security measures. However, the location of the suspects is not known.

Internal tensions and more threats

The political situation in recent years in Thailand is tense. The military junta has adopted a number of laws that restrict rights and freedoms. It gives rise to criticism from the opposition. It is also significant that the US and EU countries have taken a wait and see approach, and are not interfering in the process. However, at any given time, external pressure and manipulation including destabilization from the inside can begin. In addition to the opposition movement in the south of country are Muslim paramilitary groups, especially in the provinces of Narathiwat, Yala, Pattani, Songkhla and Satun (this province is close to Phuket island). Ethnic Malays live in the south, which gives an additional basis for separatism. 

Also, the country has the Karen national liberation army (military branch of the Karen National Union, based mostly in Myanmar). Recently we see the country's active cell "Islamic state", as evidenced by this video, for which they made subtitles in Thai:

The strategic importance of Thailand

Thailand is located in the immediate vicinity of the Malay Strait, through which most goods in Southeast Asia, including energy supplies, flow. In May 2015, Chinese and Thai officials have signed the memorandum of understanding for building water canal through the Kra Isthmus. The current proposal is for a two-way 25m deep canal measuring 102km in length and 400m wide. The canal would take 10 years to complete at a cost of at least US $28 billion. The emergence of an alternative route will greatly enhance the status of Thailand, and reduce the role of the Malay Strait, as well as the geostrategic importance of Malaysia and Singapore.

Eurasia Insight
Thailand is a classic Rimland area, but in recent years increasingly paying attention to Eurasian integration. In addition to cooperation with China, including in the military sphere, the Thai authorities were interested in the creation of a free trade zone with Russia. Such a change in the strategic situation worries the West and the United States. In this situation, given the threat of terrorist attacks too, Bangkok has a difficult choice.
Thailand may openly build closer ties with Russia and (or) China, but this would anger the West. The United States can use its proxy agents, who on behalf of the "Islamic State", may carry out an attack on the Nana road or at a popular tourist destination spot for Russian tourists. The consequences could consist of placing the country on the list of dangerous to visit countries, and this could see a ban on the sale of travel packages to the country within Russia. It would be a blow to the Thai economy.
If Bangkok official ask about aid from Russia and China to counter terrorism (including the arrival in the country of experts from the Special Services), the United States and the EU could impose sanctions against the country, based on the infringement of human rights by the military junta. This too would have a negative impact on the economy.
Most likely, Thailand will try to cope on their own with the growing threats, trying not to have conflict with the interests of any of the partner countries. It will be pretty difficult to do, given the current political system and corruption within the government.