As Southeast Asia reopens, will international terrorism return?
The Covid-19, the climate crisis, the coup in Myanmar, the Russia-Ukraine war, and the Sino-US rivalry have diminished the seriousness of terrorism. Many will struggle to remember a significant terrorist attack during the COVID-stricken years. In a way, terrorism seems out of sight, out of mind.
This is not surprising. In recent years, terrorism in Southeast Asia has been declining. Based on this Southeast Asia Militant Atlas International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR), s. Developed by the Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), the number of violent terrorist incidents peaked in 2019 but declined sharply after the launch of COVID-19 in 2020.
Moreover, terrorist groups in the region, particularly in the Philippines and Indonesia, have suffered significant losses at the hands of local authorities. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) seized safe havens for terrorists, disabling terrorist leaders and forcing many to surrender. In Malaysia, the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) removed individuals trying to create a safe haven in Sabah for Abu Sayyaf members fleeing AFP. In Indonesia, Densus 88 (D 88), the national counter-terrorism squad, has actively disrupted the plot, dismantled local terrorist cells and significantly reduced the frequency of attacks. Overall, active implementation efforts seem to have paid off.
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Despite efforts to curb terrorism, terrorist groups continue to express political will for violence. During the years plagued by the epidemic, terrorist groups in Southeast Asia ceased combat operations and maintained a low profile to regroup. Analysts note that this is the practice I am Dad (Preparation for jihad), engagement in peripheral activities that strengthen operational capacity. Such activities may include physical training, martial arts, fundraising, weapons acquisition, and recruitment.
Groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) began infiltrating Indonesia’s state apparatus, civil society and pedagogy to champion their political objectives. Significantly, Anung al-Hamat, A senior member of the Indonesian Islamist political party Partai Dakwah Rakyat Indonesia (PDRI), has doubled as JI’s top executive. Anung was also involved in academic circles and published a book arguing for compulsory jihadi education in Indonesia.
In the Philippines, the Davalah Islamiyah-Mout Group (DIMG) has stopped its active offensive operations and given priority to recruitment. The conditions for recruitment are present. Due to the ongoing clashes between the AFP and various terrorist groups, communities were further marginalized and suffering from poverty. While it is unlikely that terrorists will launch a major offensive in the near future, there are signs that they are regrouping and recovering.
It is clear that extremism will remain the same. Terrorist groups are doing whatever it takes to survive and become stronger. Therefore, a momentary calm in an attack should not be misunderstood as a lack of threat. Just as globalization is the engine of Singapore’s economy, it is also the lifeblood of terrorism. For example, the Minister of Defense of Singapore Ng Angie Hen Accurately assesses that resumption of global travel could lead to a resurgence of terrorism. Therefore, when the celebration of the gradual reopening of borders is celebrated, we must remain vigilant.
Transborder terrorism in Southeast Asia
Foreign influence increases domestic terrorist attacks. The infamous 9/11 attacks were planned and coordinated in several countries in 2001. The mastermind of the attack, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, had extensive conversations with JI’s operational leader Riduan Isamuddin (aka Hambali). To facilitate Transportation of al-Qaeda operatives by Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). Hambali continued to facilitate the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed more than 200 people. In Hambali’s confession, he shared that al-Qaeda supported him 30,000 Rewarded an additional $ 100,000 for the attack and for its “satisfactory results”.
Organizationally, JI has ambitions to expand its network across the region. When JI was formed in Malaysia in 1993, it relocated its headquarters to Indonesia and built one. JI-Singapore. In 1999, JI was founded Rabitatul Mujahideen (Mujahideen Coalition) under the leadership of Abu Bakr Bashir to create a regional Islamic terrorist network. The purpose of this network was to gather resources and expertise of various terrorist groups. The alliance allowed JI members from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore to train Terrorist safe havens In the southern Philippines.
Foreign terrorist fighters
Still, attacks on local land are the tip of the iceberg. The primary concern for the authorities is the relocation of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs).
Southeast Asia experienced three waves of foreign warfare. First, Southeast Asian militants were called in for weapons during the Soviet-Afghan conflict. Political scientist Thomas Heghammer An estimated 5,000 to 20,000 foreign fighters are present to support the Afghan Mujahideen. Southeast Asians j Returned Became “Afghan alumni; ” They took advantage of their training and international network to organize terrorist cells and carry out terrorist attacks locally or regionally.
Second, the people of Southeast Asia were drawn to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS). After Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the caliphate in July 2014, thousands of FTFs from around the world fled to Syria to take part in the civil war. Based on this Sophan Center As of 2017, more than 53,000 FTFs from 146 countries had joined IS in Syria. More than 1,000 were from Southeast Asia, including Megat Shahdan bin Abdul Samad alias from Singapore. Abu Uqayl.
However, with IS losing ground in Iraq and Syria, it decentralized its organizational structure and built satellites. Abroad (Provinces) Globally. This East Asia (East Asia Province) is the easternmost province of the Islamic State, comprising Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. IS called on aspiring FTFs to gather in the southern Philippines to lay siege. Kafir Government
IS’s message was simple; If you can’t travel, take the fight to your backyard.
Eventually, the consolidation of Islamic militants in 2016 led to a third wave of foreign fighting in May 2017, otherwise known as Marawi Siege. The five-month siege marks the deadliest war in the Philippines since World War II. Although the Marawi siege was fought only in the Philippines, it was a regional operation. In addition to the combined weapons of local terrorist groups such as the Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf, others 100 Foreigners, including minors, migrated to Maravi to support IS. In this FTF, Dr. of Malaysia. Key commanders such as Mahmoud Ahmed and Amin Bako were involved.
Returning foreign fighters
When a foreign fight takes place abroad, it can be a local problem. The emergence and resurgence of some of Southeast Asia’s most feared terrorist groups, such as Abu Saif and JI, was linked to al-Qaeda through the shared experience of the Afghan Mujahideen. Afghan alumni, for example, returned with combat experience and an international network so they could plan and conduct attacks at home.
It would be a mistake to ignore FTFs traveling abroad. However, there is still no consensus among countries on the operation of the FTF. Authorities struggle to balance human rights, national security and government capacity. Today, there are about 700 Indonesians and 100 Malaysians In detention Al-Hall camp or Al-Hasakah prison, in northeastern Iraq. If detainees are not rehabilitated, they could pose a serious security challenge to Southeast Asia.
Regional security against terrorism
The governments of Southeast Asia recognize the need for a multilateral response to the international threat. In addition to local enforcement efforts and bilateral intelligence and extradition arrangements, the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) developed mechanisms to strengthen its response to international terrorism. Cross-border terrorism has been a major factor ASEAN Defense Minister Meeting Plus Agenda
A targeted sub-regional initiative was also set up to combat international terrorism. For example, the Tripartite Cooperative System (TCA), enacted in June 2017, aims to reduce violent maritime activity on the Sulu-Celebs Sea. TCA has also doubled as a method of border-tightening due to Sulu-Celebs seas. Primary transport route Traveling from Malaysia to the Philippines for FTF.
Our Eyes Initiative (OEI) was implemented in January 2018 in response to the 2017 Maravi Seas. Recognizing the role of FTFs in the conflict, many ASEAN members agreed to meet Bi-weekly To exchange intelligence on terrorist groups and to develop a shared database on terrorism. The Southeast Asia Counter-Terrorism Financing Working Group (SEA CTWFG) was launched in November 2019. The purpose of this working group is to address the financing of transboundary terrorism through a forgery. Partnership Between law enforcement, industry and education. The working group consisted of financial intelligence units from the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia.
While other geopolitical developments have certainly overshadowed the threat of terrorism, this threat should not be ignored. As international tours resume, we can expect terrorists to rekindle the flames of war. International terrorist groups may try to support local attacks, and FTFs with war experience may try to return home.
We are not insecure. Enforcement agencies in the region are playing their part in curbing the rise and spread of terrorism. The region has taken steps to tighten borders, increase intelligence sharing and curb terrorist financing. However, policymakers need to update, revitalize and reboot these multilateral mechanisms to reduce the risk of terrorism in the region.