Over the years, countries across Southeast Asia have taken tangible steps to fight against terrorism. The threat has also evolved, from the height of the communist insurgency era in the 1960s, through a period marked by Al Qaeda (AQ) and regional group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) in the early 2000s, to the present menace of the Islamic State (IS). The IS’ online ideological campaign has won sympathisers and supporters in the region and attracted Southeast Asian fighters to war zones in Syria and Iraq eventually setting up the Katibah Nusantara. Last year, the region witnessed an IS-styled terrorist attack on home ground– in Jakarta reminiscent of the Paris attacks in November 2015, and another in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur in 2016. These were on top of other smaller IS-related incidents as well as uncovered attack plans including one aimed at the iconic Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. 2016 also saw the alleged establishment of Wilayat Al-Filibin in
Southern Philippines as well as the launch of Al-Fatihin –an IS Malay language newspaper accessible to the majority ethnic group of Muslims in the region (Singh & Jani 2016).
Experiencing post-9/11 under the US-led ‘Global War on Terror’ with the “Southeast Asia as the Second Front” theory after the first Bali Bombing in 2002, and the rise of Jemaah Islamiyah, a prominent regional terrorist organisation affiliated to the Al Qaeda, brought about several direct and indirect lessons.
The whole article is published in the first issue of Asia Trends: Key Insights & Analysis, l’Asie à la source.