16 August 2016
Southeast Asia could become ISIL’s next base, as the terrorist organization seeks to expand its operations outside of the Middle East and North Africa.
Organizations inspired by ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) are already gaining ground in the region, which is rich in latent jihadist potential: Small jihadist movements are operating in Indonesia and the Philippines; an ongoing Muslim insurgency is burning in southern Thailand; there is strong support for Sharia law in parts of Malaysia; and a large number of Southeast Asians who have fought in Syria and Iraq have since returned to the region.
ISIL hopes that a base — or wilayat — can catalyze these forces into a powerful regional jihadist movement. ISIL’s influence in the region has been growing steadily since mid-2014. The organization poses a significant threat in part “because of how fast it’s gained popularity among regional groups,” said Joseph Liow, a senior fellow at the Brookings Center for East Asia Policy Studies in Washington.
“Economically, Southeast Asia is very unique, and given the high density of countries in the neighborhood, including large Muslim populations in Indonesia, Malaysia and southern Philippines, it is only natural for ISIL to look to the region,” said Vikram Rajakumar, a senior analyst at the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore.
… “It just wants these groups to ‘hurt its enemies,’” said Bilveer Singh, a regional security specialist at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
… “ISIL has sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to Southeast Asia to plan, prepare and execute attacks,” said Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research.
CENS / GPO / ICPVTR / RSIS / Online
Last updated on 17/08/2016