03 January 2017
Terrorism and radicalisation will be an inescapable part of our lives from here on, and the main threats for 2017 and beyond should be divided into two parts.
The first is the foreign fighter blowback. With the so-called Islamic State (IS) suffering reverses on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, many South-east Asian fighters will return home to Indonesia and Malaysia. They may also seek new safe havens such as in the southern Philippines.
In addition, they will seek to leverage issues which give them propaganda mileage that can reinvigorate their social media campaigns — such as the plight of the Rohingya.
And we should not be so quick to assume that it is simply South-east Asian fighters we will need to reckon with. One cannot discount the possibility of a wider movement of battle-hardened Uighur veterans who, for various reasons, cannot return to their home countries elsewhere.
For some sense of what is likely to happen with these returnees, we can look to Europe, where Western fighters have been trickling home for some time now.
Many are embittered by their experiences and disillusioned by the depravity of the IS; but some have come back even more determined to wreak havoc, and even more radicalized.
…Dr Shashi Jayakumar is a Senior Fellow and head of the Centre of Excellence for National Security at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University.
CENS / Online / Print
Last updated on 03/01/2017