29 May 2015
WHILE the presence of South-east Asian fighters in the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is well-known, what is less noticed is the rising importance of ISIS’ strategy of waging a global “jihad”. While the Malay-speaking militants who fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s formed the backbone of the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) in the 1990s and the first decade of 2000, ISIS seems to have more grandiose plans for its Malay Archipelago fighters.
This is evident from ISIS’ establishment of the Katibah Nusantara, a Malay-based combat unit, with serious consequences for South-east Asian security. The Katibah Nusantara is a dedicated fighting force. Its capability was most evident early last month when the unit scored its first major combat success by capturing five Kurd-held territories in Syria. This battlefield success was highlighted in the jihadi and ISIS’ social media, especially in the Indonesian and Malay languages, partly to entice new recruits to join the cause.
Katibah Nusantara has also been expanding its recruitment drive for fighters and supporters through videos and printed press in the Malay language. While Bahrumshah, a former charismatic JI member in Indonesia, has been active, this has reached new proportions with the use of young Malay and Indonesian children to propagate the cause, especially in the social media.
… The writer is a research analyst with the International Centre for Political Violence andTerrorism Research, a constituent unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
ICPVTR / Online / Print
Last updated on 18/11/2015