30 September 2014
Kuala Lumpur: The Islamic State’s militant appeal is fanning fears that it could serve as a potent new rallying cry for Southeast Asian extremists who had been largely brought to heel following past deadly terror attacks.
Authorities in Indonesia – the world’s most populous Islamic country – and Muslim-majority Malaysia have watched with alarm as scores, possibly even hundreds, of their nationals are believed to have gone to Syria and Iraq to join the fight for a hardline Muslim caliphate.
Terrorism analysts are increasingly concerned that these volunteers could import the organisation’s violent ideology upon their return, or inspire supporters back home to carry out deadly attacks.
“There are still many breeding grounds for militancy in parts of the region, and if fighters come back they can strengthen these existing groups, and that’s going to be a major problem,” said Bantarto Bandoro of the Indonesian Defence University.
…Joseph Chinyong Liow, an expert in Islamic militancy with Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said counter-terror capabilities and intelligence in the region have increased dramatically since JI’s heyday. Today’s militants have “lost the tactical advantage of surprise,” he wrote in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs.
But authorities must remain vigilant as IS is ramping up recruitment online and through Southeast Asia’s “local Islamic communities and networks, just as Afghan militants did in earlier decades,” he added.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 01/10/2014