ICPVTR Webinar Series on Bali Bombings’ 20th Anniversary by Assoc Prof Bilveer Singh, Deputy Head, Department of Political Science, NUS and Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Centre of Excellence for National Security, RSIS and Mr Rakyan Adibrata, Country Director, International Association for Counter-terrorism and Security Professionals, Indonesia and Deputy Secretary, Bureau for Prevention of Extremism and Terrorism, The Indonesian Council of Ulama
Southeast Asia’s Terrorism Terrain Two Decades after Bali: Change, Continuities and Trajectories
About the Series
On 12 October 2002, the Bali Bombings rocked Southeast Asia, taking 202 lives in what is considered the deadliest attack in the region. The attacks elevated the threat of Islamist terrorism and played a major role in shaping counter-terrorism (CT) efforts in the region. Twenty years later, two transnational groups, Al-Qaeda and Islamic State, continue to define the terrorist threat in Southeast Asia, whilst at the same time, local militant groups demonstrate a tenacious ability to adapt amidst a changing operational environment. In light of the 20th anniversary of the 2002 Bali Bombings, ICPVTR will be running a 3-part series of webinars to assess the changes, continuities and trajectories of the terror threat in Southeast Asia.
The opening webinar lays the foundation for the series by delving into the core of the region’s terrorism landscape. The second webinar explores radicalization drivers and considers the roles that ideology, gender and the online space play in terrorist recruitment. The third and final webinar analyses the complexities in balancing ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ approaches in CT policies in Southeast Asia and assesses how these approaches can mitigate emerging terror threats.
As the network behind the 2002 bombings, not to mention numerous other attacks and plots, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) has been the target of sustained waves of arrests and leadership decapitations, degrading the group’s operational effectiveness. Yet JI still remains a threat, albeit a rather latent one, playing the long game and pursuing political consolidation currently.
In that light, the speakers will sketch out the varying levels of threat JI has posed to the region over the past two decades. An exploration of factors and failures that allowed the Bali Bombings to materialise will also be undertaken to elucidate on and thus mitigate intelligence gaps.
Whilst JI was facing crackdowns by regional security forces; another formidable jihadist threat was emerging and expanding its influence across the globe – the Islamic State (IS). The speakers will further elaborate on how the terrorism terrain in Southeast Asia has changed with the rise and traction of IS, as well as the similarities and differences between JI and IS in terms of ideology, ambitions, strategies, tactics etc.
Assoc Prof Bilveer Singh is presently the Deputy Head, Dept of Political Science, National University Singapore (NUS) and concurrently an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Centre of Excellence for National Security, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University. He received his MA and PhD in International Relations from the Australian National University. Prof Singh specialises in International Relations and Comparative Politics and has taught at NUS for 40 years. His research covers great power relations in Southeast Asia, ASEAN’s defence and security policies, Islamist extremism and terrorism in Southeast Asia, focusing on Indonesia and Singapore politics and security issues.
Mr Rakyan Adibrata worked as an Expert Adviser at the Indonesian House of Representatives, specialising in Homeland Security from 2010 until 2019. He was involved in various major law-making processes, including the 2013 Counter Financing Terrorism and 2018 Anti-Terrorism Law. Rakyan was appointed as Country Director for the International Association for Counter-terrorism and Security Professionals (IACSP) Indonesia in 2018 and Country Representative Indonesia for Nordic Counter Terrorism Center (NCTN) based in Helsinki in 2022. He is also currently serving as Deputy Secretary of the Bureau for Prevention of Extremism and Terrorism, in the Indonesian Council of Ulama.