11 July 2017
Feared terrorist organization Islamic State in Iraq and Syria makes no secret of its global reach. The group has said it was behind the suicide bombing that killed 22 at a concert in Manchester in May and the Florida night club shooting that killed 49 in June last year, for example. The same group, often abbreviated to ISIS, has been poking around for a stronghold in Asia outside the Middle East too, especially in countries with Muslim populations.
The Philippines is becoming the “most significant” spot for ISIS and its role in Marawi looms as a “threat to Asia,” says Rohan Gunaratna, security studies professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technology University in Singapore.
On rural Indonesia, ISIS “sleeper cells” occur in most of Indonesia’s provinces, according to reports by the Straits Times. “Sleeper” means they can be called to action as needed, and some are suspected of helping the rebels in the besieged Philippine city of Marawi. However, Indonesian police are effective at containing ISIS-sympathetic groups, Gunaratna says.
On Rakhine state, Myanmar, the Islamic State sees this state near the loosely patrolled Bangladesh border as prime Asia turf because it’s already a conflict zone where ethnic Rohingya people, also Muslims, face persecution from the Myanmar government. Some recruits from Myanmar come from Bangladesh, Gunaratna says. They can be taken to the Philippines for ISIS campaigns there, he adds. “ISIS is desperately trying to make inroads into that region with people of Bangladeshi origin,” he says.
ICPVTR / Online
Last updated on 14/07/2017