Seminar on Terrorism
The Post-Caliphate Threat in Asia – Fighting Back
With the loss of its physical caliphate in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State (IS) has prioritised global expansion, with the threat level in Asia reaching a new high. IS’ strategic shift has seen it decentralize its operations by dispatching nearly 100 leaders, both Iraqi and foreign operatives, to its wilayats (provinces) and other countries with support networks. To coordinate its new phase of operations, IS supporters and sympathizers worldwide rely on both IS central and IS bridgeheads. The devastating attack mounted by IS in Sri Lanka in April 2019 demonstrated the new face of this threat.
In Asia, many governments are unprepared for IS’ global expansion. Managing the emerging wave of exclusivism, extremism and terrorism will require a multiagency, multi-jurisdictional and multinational response. With over 60% of Muslims living in Asia, IS is investing significantly in building structures in both the physical and cyber space in Asia. In Central, South, Southeast and Northeast Asia, both IS central and IS’ decentralized networks are likely to direct and inspire attacks. For directing IS’ external operations in Asia, IS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi is likely to rely more on Afghanistan as a forward HQ.
Social Media and Terrorism in the Asia Pacific
The advent of social media platforms has created an online environment that transcends geographic and political boundaries as well as traditional mechanisms of state-based authority. The decentralised nature of social media, its anonymity and its ability to reach diverse audiences has afforded violent extremist groups opportunities for propaganda, recruitment, fundraising and operational planning. This presentation presents the findings from a paper examining three violent extremist-related groups operating in the Asia Pacific: one ‘classic’ terrorist – Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines; one a dissident political party – Jamaat-e-Islami in Bangladesh; and one a broad ethno-religious separatist movement – the Uyghurs in China. Each study highlights how the adoption of proactive social media strategies affords the group numerous opportunities to maximise their reach, impact and effect. However, the same technological specificities that generate these possibilities also expose the groups to new vulnerabilities and risks.
Book Launch – Terrorism and Insurgency in Asia: A Contemporary Examination of Terrorist and Separatist Movements
About the Book:
The rise of the Islamic State since 2014 has led to the re-emergence of terrorism as a serious security threat in Asia. Coupled with the ongoing terrorism and insurgency challenges from both radical religious extremists and also ethno-nationalist insurgencies, it is clear that some parts of Asia remain mired in armed rebellion despite decades of nation-building. While the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan has obviously deteriorated, there is also a growing terrorist challenge, on top of armed insurgencies, in other parts of Asia. A common theme in armed rebellions in the region has been the lack of legitimacy of the state and the presence of fundamental causes stemming from political, economic or social grievances. Addressing rebellion in the region thus requires a comprehensive approach involving transnational co-operation, addressing fundamental grievances, and also the use of more innovative approaches, such as religious rehabilitation and reconciliation programmes.
About the Speakers:
Rohan Gunaratna is Professor of Security Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technology University, Singapore. He received his Masters from the University of Notre Dame in the US where he was Hesburgh Scholar and his doctorate from the University of St Andrews in the UK where he was British Chevening Scholar. A former Senior Fellow at the Combating Terrorism Centre at the United States Military Academy at West Point and at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Gunaratna was invited to testify on the structure of al Qaeda before the 9/11 Commission. The author of 16 books including “Inside al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror,” University of Columbia Press and most recently, co-author for “The Three Pillars of Radicalization: Needs, Narratives, and Networks,” Oxford University Press, 2019. Gunaratna edits the Insurgency and Terrorism Series of the Imperial College Press, London. A trainer for national security agencies, law enforcement authorities and military counter-terrorism units, interviewed terrorists and insurgents in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Saudi Arabia and other conflict zones. For advancing international security cooperation, Gunaratna received the Major General Ralph H. Van Deman Award in June 2014.
Lise Waldek is currently a lecturer in Terrorism Studies in the Department of Security Studies and Criminology, Macquarie University. She is the chief investigator on an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (ARC) developing base-line empirical data into the engagement of Australian youth audiences with online violent extremist content. Her research portfolio includes a range of category two funded projects. These include a project mapping the online environment of the far right in New South Wales, Australia; an examination of the nexus between violence, youth, crime and terror; the evaluation of a regional resilience and social cohesion program focused on the far right; and the design of resilience and countering violent extremism programs. Lise has worked with a diverse range of government, private sector and academic institutions on CVE and Countering Terrorism. She has published in peer-reviewed international journals and academic books including recent chapters on terrorism in Afghanistan; social media and audiences; social media and terrorism in Asia. Prior to her academic appointment, Lise worked as the senior socio-cultural analyst for the UK Ministry of Defence and in the Home Office. She coordinated research and analysis on issues relating to counter-terrorism. Lise has trained personnel from numerous countries including the UK, US, Australia, Germany, and Pakistan on the use of socio-cultural assessments. She has worked as a consultant for J2S consulting, an organisation that specialises in bringing to market new technological innovations using data and human science behavioural sciences for security providers. Lise is a member of the Executive Committee for the Addressing Violent Extremism and Radicalisation to Terrorism (AVERT) research network, Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation
Andrew T. H. Tan is Associate Professor at the Department of Security Studies and Criminology, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. He was previously Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales and has also taught at Kings College London, UK. Andrew T. H. Tan has published 20 sole-authored, edited and co-edited books, and over 60 refereed journal and chapter articles. Some of his latest books include: US-China Relations (Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2016), Security and Conflict in East Asia (London: Routledge, 2015), The Arms Race in Asia: Trends, Causes and Implications (London: Routledge, 2014), East and South-East Asia: International Relations and Security Perspectives (London: Routledge, 2013), Security Strategies in the Asia-Pacific (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) and US Strategy Against Global Terrorism: How It Evolved, Why it Failed and Where it is Headed (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).