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Old 06-26-2008   #1
Jedburgh
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Default The Evolving Terrorist Threat in Southeast Asia

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute, 25 Jun 08:

Neighbourhood Watch: The Evolving Terrorist Threat in Southeast Asia
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....Nearly six years after the first Bali bombings, it is time to take stock of the regional security environment and to ask how the Southeast Asian terrorist threat might evolve in the future.

Neighbourhood Watch analyses the changing nature of religious militancy in Southeast Asia and sets out a framework for understanding the forces and trends that are driving jihadist extremism in the region. It provides a comprehensive examination of the organisational and operational capabilities of the major terrorist groups including JI, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaf Group in Mindanaoand the various groups associated with the current manifestation of Malay Muslim separatist violence in southern Thailand. In each case, the nature and extent of pan-regional networks and connections are examined.....
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Old 07-07-2009   #2
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Default Conflict, Community, and Criminality in Southeast Asia and Australia

CSIS, 30 Jun 09: Conflict, Community, and Criminality in Southeast Asia and Australia: Assessments From the Field

A collection of essays with a foreword by Marc Sageman.
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....In Southeast Asia, as in the rest of the world, it would be naïve to believe that terrorism can be defeated. It is and will remain a tactic of the weak against their government, and Southeast Asia has seen its share throughout modern history. However, the appeal of Islam is fading in some theaters but gaining strength in a few others due to local reasons. In the future, terrorism in Southeast Asia may still be waged in the name of new concepts. The key to holding it in check is to not overreact, punish only the criminals directly involved in violence, and encourage young people that might be attracted to violent ideology to pursue their political activism in a more effective and lawful way.
Essays include:
  • Radical Islam in the Middle East and Southeast Asia: A Comparison
  • The Middle East, Islamism, and Indonesia: Pull versus Push Factors
  • Jemaah Islamiyah and New Splinter Groups
  • Can Indonesian Democracy Tame Radical Islamism?
  • The Role of Radical Madrasahs in Terrorism: The Indonesian Case
  • Communal Violence in Indonesia and the Role of Foreign and Domestic Networks
  • Radical Islam in Malaysia
  • Governmental Responses to Extremism in Southeast Asia: “Hard” versus “Soft” Approaches
  • The Malayu Insurgency in Thailand’s Southern Border Provinces
  • “A Carnival of Crime”: The Enigma of the Abu Sayyaf
  • Will the Conflict in Mindanao Look Like the Insurgency in Southern Thailand?
  • Little-known Muslim Communities and Concerns in Cambodia, Burma, and Northern Thailand
  • Assessment of Criminal Threats Emanating from Burma
  • The Extremist Threat in Australia
  • Muslim Alienation in Australia: Europe Down Under?
  • Jihadi Ideology: An Overview
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Old 07-23-2009   #3
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CTC, 22 Jul 09: Radical Islamist Ideology in Southeast Asia

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....The 17 July 2009 terrorist attacks on two hotels in Jakarta, Indonesia were a vivid reminder of the breadth of the battle space and the importance of constant vigilance. This break in Indonesia’s four-year calm might be a one-time event or an indication of a resurgent regional terror threat. With crude weapons and little logistical support, a small group of people were capable of carrying out an attack that received global media attention. The focus on the perpetrators of this attack may also veil the importance of ideologies other than global jihadism to political violence in the region, such as various strands of ethno-nationalism. As this report highlights, global jihadism is not the only ideology animating terrorist violence, and ethno-nationalism is still a prevalent force in Southeast Asia.

The inherent difficulty of tactical defense makes it ever more important to address the broader ideological and strategic aspects of the terror threat in the hopes of identifying important trends. This volume examines the salience and content of jihadi ideology across Southeast Asia in an attempt to gain a better understanding of the types of threats and susceptibility to global jihadist violence in the region.....
Essays Include:
  • The Landscape of Jihadism in Southeast Asia
  • The Current and Emerging Extremist Threat in Malaysia
  • The historical development of Jihadi Islamist thought in Indonesia
  • The Influence of Transnational Jihadist Ideology on Islamic Extremist Groups in the Philippines: The Cases of the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Rajah Solaiman Movement
  • Ideology, Religion, and Mobilization in the Southern Thai Conflict
  • A Survey of Southeast Asian Global Jihadist Websites
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Old 07-31-2009   #4
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Just looking at the Abu Sayyaf material in these collections…

There’s some very useful material here, and some that is less so. The Christopher Collier essay on the ASG (in the CSIS collection) is excellent, and a welcome change from the many quite superficial treatments that have appeared recently. It’s refreshing to see open discussion of some of the oft-ignored aspects of this fight: the tendency for attribution of attacks to be driven as much by expedience as evidence; the reality that members Philippine security forces routinely sell arms and ammunition to insurgents, share ransom payments, and engage in other extracurricular business deals; the unreliability of ASG force estimates; the confusion between armed business disputes and insurgent/counterinsurgent encounters; the questionable level of connection between ASG and AQ in the last decade… and so on.

This excerpt deserves to be highlighted:

Quote:
Seasoned anthropologist Thomas Kiefer has spent years studying the Tausug, the people of Jolo, and points out that the notion of a clearly bounded “group”—as in Abu Sayyaf Group—is virtually meaningless in Tausug society. Instead, Tausug political and military life is structured by temporary factional alliances, “overlapping and criss-crossing ties in which the same men may be torn apart and bound together in multiple ways at the same time.” So-called minimal alliance networks are centered on a charismatic leader and rarely number more than a score strong, with membership becoming vague at the edges as one network shades off into another. Such networks only come together as “medial” or “maximal” alliances of hundreds or even thousands of men if a third common enemy, shared among them, emerges. Because every man in every component minimal alliance follows only his own leader and is typically pursuing only individual advantage, not any generalized ideology, larger alliances of expediency are extremely unstable. Abu Sayyaf is just such a medial alliance. It has no firm boundaries—only leaders with followers who interact with other leaders with followers. Hence the difficulty in estimating Abu Sayyaf numbers.

Many armed encounters on Jolo and Basilan that are portrayed as clashes with Abu Sayyaf actually involve disputes over petty profiteering, such as the battle with Commander Nandi or guerrillas of the Misuari Breakaway Group of the MNLF (on Jolo) or MILF (on Basilan). In the face of a third common enemy, the AFP, the boundaries among these three theoretically discrete insurgent groups frequently become hazy, as leaders with personal ties form temporary medial alliances. It should be emphasized that these are personal alliances of convenience, more than organizational or ideological “links.”
The only thing I’d add to that is that wider alliances are driven not only by the emergence of a common enemy: the rapid expansion of the ASG in the early 00s (from several hundred to several thousand) was not an alliance against a common enemy or a sudden burst of enthusiasm for jihad but a reaction to the ASG’s success in attracting large ransom payments. The subsequent reversal of the ASG’s fortunes is widely attributed to US-backed Philippine military action. This was a factor, but there were other major contributing factors, notably the difficulty of integrating a large influx of nominally loyal and basically opportunistic “members” and often violent internal disputes over the distribution of ransom payments.

The ASG essays from the CTC and ASPI collections are much more conventional and much less interesting, apparently relying almost entirely on secondary and tertiary sources and often falling victim to the common tendency to treat the ASG as a discrete group with a coherent command structure and unifying ideogy. There are several serious stretches: recovering a pamphlet in an ASG camp does not justify the assumption that the contents of the pamphlet represent an organizational ideology. There are a few odd factual errors (Ramzi Yousef was arrested in Islamabad, not in Manila as the CTC essay states) and a generally unquestioned acceptance of the conventional account of ASG’s history, a history that deserves a good deal more questioning than it gets. It’s quite astonishing that until now reputable studies still describe Yousef’s Manila operation in ’94-’95 as an "Abu Sayyaf cell"… but given the general eagerness to characterize the ASG as a central link in the global jihad chain, I suppose that’s understandable.

The discussion of the Rajah Soleiman Movement (RSM) seems almost anachronistic: while the RSM did at one time appear to be emerging as a serious threat, it has been severely degraded and proved largely to be a one-man show, unable to recover from the arrest of leader Ahmed Santos. While the possible threat from small cells of militants operating on the fringes of the Luzon-based “balik-Islam” movement cannot be discounted, RSM as an organization seems to be in terminal decline.
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Old 10-27-2012   #5
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Default Indonesia: Suspects planned attack on U.S. Embassy

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-...n-u.s-embassy/

Quote:
He said the suspects belonged to a new group called the Harakah Sunni for Indonesian Society, or HASMI.

"From evidence found at the scene, we believe that this group was well prepared for serious terror attacks," Alius said.
Sticking with the theme of trends, what we seem to be seeing in Indonesia is the result of effective security operations that forces an enduring threat to continuously morph into new terrorist cells and organizations. Defeat of the idea and the strategic logic of terrorism is no where in sight. The terrorists like most adversaries have a political objective that won't be countered by population centric operations that focus on economic development and the rule of law. It may be we just have to accept this as the new norm until their is (if there is) an evolution in their underlying ideology and political goals. I think that means our security forces (the US and all its partners) need to focus our main effort on intelligence and disruption from a security aspect. Individual governments will have to wage the political competition within in their own borders.

Quote:
Last month, police arrested 10 Islamist militants and seized a dozen homemade bombs from a group suspected of planning suicide attacks against security forces and plotting to blow up the Parliament building. The alleged bomb maker turned himself in to police while wearing an empty suicide vest.

Recent terror attacks in the country have been carried out by individuals or small groups and have targeted security forces and local "infidels" instead of Westerners, with less deadly results. The arrests announced Saturday appear to be the first in recent years to involve a group that allegedly planned to target foreign facilities.
Different groups experimenting with different approaches to achieve a common political objective.
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Old 10-27-2012   #6
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Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
Sticking with the theme of trends, what we seem to be seeing in Indonesia is the result of effective security operations that forces an enduring threat to continuously morph into new terrorist cells and organizations. Defeat of the idea and the strategic logic of terrorism is no where in sight. The terrorists like most adversaries have a political objective that won't be countered by population centric operations that focus on economic development and the rule of law. It may be we just have to accept this as the new norm until their is (if there is) an evolution in their underlying ideology and political goals. I think that means our security forces (the US and all its partners) need to focus our main effort on intelligence and disruption from a security aspect. Individual governments will have to wage the political competition within in their own borders.
Actually the idea and the strategic logic of terrorism have been significantly challenged, mainly through continued success in avoiding further sectarian conflict in Sulawesi, Maluku, etc. Those conflicts have long been the motivator that links the radical core to a broader audience and gives them recruits and credibility. That core is still there, and probably will be for some time, but without local sectarian conflict they become increasingly isolated from the community and have a harder time attracting recruits and resources. The radical narrative coming out of the Middle East doesn't have a broad enough appeal in Indonesia to generate much active public support, they need local issues, and increasingly they haven't got them.
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Old 10-27-2012   #7
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Posted by Dayuhan,

Quote:
Actually the idea and the strategic logic of terrorism have been significantly challenged, mainly through continued success in avoiding further sectarian conflict in Sulawesi, Maluku, etc. Those conflicts have long been the motivator that links the radical core to a broader audience and gives them recruits and credibility. That core is still there, and probably will be for some time, but without local sectarian conflict they become increasingly isolated from the community and have a harder time attracting recruits and resources. The radical narrative coming out of the Middle East doesn't have a broad enough appeal in Indonesia to generate much active public support, they need local issues, and increasingly they haven't got them.
What I wrote is the defeat of the idea and the strategic logic of terrorism is no where in sight. That argument stands, just because they're not gaining traction doesn't mean "their" strategic logic is going to change, they will continue to use the tactic to pursue their strategic ends. I agree one of their goals is to foment ethnic strife, which they were successful doing in the past. Hopefully their society remains resilient to those provocations, but regardless a significant core of true believers are not going to stop using terrorism among other tactics. I agree they have a much hard path to go down than extremists in S. Asia and the Middle East.
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Old 11-03-2012   #8
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http://www.boston.com/news/world/asi...VfP/story.html

Indonesian police kill alleged militant in raid

Quote:
National police spokesman Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said the two suspects were among fugitives wanted for the assassination of two police officers who were killed last month while investigating terrorist activities in the area.

The two men resisted arrest by throwing homemade bombs toward security forces during the raid at a house in Kayamaya village in Poso district, Amar said.
They fight with the same tenacity their brothers in the ME do, so much for the argument they're not as susceptible to radicalization.

Quote:
Poso was a flashpoint for violence between Christians and Muslims that left more than 1,000 people dead in 2001 and 2002. Authorities believe the district is now a terrorist hotbed.
They have no qualms about killing those from other ethnic groups, and creating communal strife is still part of their strategy, this wasn't a flash in the pan.

http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/public...273537D1775%7D

Quote:
Authorities early Sept discovered new Islamist militant group in Jakarta, with mission to attack potential targets including police stations, govt officials and Buddhists, the latter over Myanmar’s treatment of Muslim Rohingya people: 8 Sept blast injured 6 including 1 militant in Depok near Jakarta; 1 accomplice surrendered 9 Sept, 2 suspects arrested. Police 22-23 Sept arrested 10 suspected terrorists in Solo for planning attack on parliament, 1 Sept arrested member of group behind Aug attacks on police. Following Aug attacks by Sunni mob on Shiites in Madura, E Java, Shiite organisations rejected govt’s plan to relocate Shiite community to avoid further sectarian violence; Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali 6 Sept proposed Sunni-Shiite dialogue. Demonstrations against anti-Islam film 17 Sept turned violent in front of U.S. embassy; protests in Medan led U.S. to temporarily shut down consulate. In Papua police 2-3 Sept arrested some 25 Free Papua Movement (OPM) members including leader Danny Kogoya for alleged involvement in Aug 2011, May 2012 shootings.
The extremists are persistently seeking opportunities to exploit, the latest being the Burmese attacks on the Rohingya people. This will be used as justification to attack Buddhists in yet another attempt to mobilize Muslims to arms. I do agree that the vast majority of Indonesian muslims do not support this, but Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim nation but the 3-7% that are estimated to support these radical views still equates to tens of thousands. Of those a much smaller percentage will be motivated to participate in violent acts, but is still signficant.
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Old 11-13-2012   #9
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Interesting report from ICG on changes in Indonesian terrorism. Notes 2011 suicide bombings links to vigilante actions not directly tied to more traditional established groups connected with international jihad:

http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/region...n-cirebon.aspx

The opening paragraph:
Quote:
Anti-vice raids and actions against non-Muslim minorities are becoming a path to more violent jihadism in Indonesia. The 2011 suicide bombings of a police mosque in Cirebon, West Java and an evangelical church in Solo, Central Java were carried out by men who moved from using sticks and stones in the name of upholding morality and curbing “deviance” to using bombs and guns. They show how ideological and tactical lines within the radical community have blurred, meaning that counter-terrorism programs that operate on the assumption that “terrorists” are a clearly definable group distinguishable from hardline activists and religious vigilantes are bound to fail. They also mean that the government must develop a strategy, consistent with democratic values, for countering clerics who use no violence themselves but preach that it is permissible to shed the blood of infidels (kafir) or oppressors (thaghut), meaning government officials and particularly the police.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 11-13-2012 at 06:27 PM. Reason: Citation in quotes
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Old 02-02-2014   #10
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http://file.understandingconflict.or...n_Conflict.pdf

INDONESIANS AND THE SYRIAN CONFLICT
30 January 2014
IPAC Report


This is a very insightful report that should also probably be posted under one of the Al-Qaeda threads, but since the geographic focus is the impact of jihad in Syria on Indonesia I opted for this thread with the very relevant title of the evolving terrorist threat in Southeast Asia.

You need to read all 13 pages of the report to capture of the full scope of the analysis. If you read the first two pages, you can confuse it with being overly alarming that Indonesians are sending fighters to Syria to support Al-Qaeda, but it is much more nuanced as you progress and points to the various divisions within the Indonesian jihadist community on whether to support ISIS, Al-Nusra, local groups, or even Assad. More importantly if read with an open mind it help readers make a shift from the tactical (focused on cells committing terrorist acts) to the strategic and gain an appreciation of what they're trying to achieve and the plan for doing so. It also validates what many already appreciate, which is politics are not just local affairs, but local issues have global implications, especially with nations/identity groups that don't appreciate state borders.

Quote:
The Syrian conflict is also attractive to Indonesian extremists because it enables them to apply the so-called “two-arm strategy”, the title of a book that has become a runaway hit in the jihadi community.
The two army strategy is explained in detail in the report, in short it was written my an Al-Qaeda strategist. Much of it is similar to "The Management of Strategy," another jihadist strategy, but this one is focused on how to exploit the Arab Spring. The author notes,

Quote:
the restoration of the caliphate cannot start in what he calls “politically dead” areas like Sudan and Mauritania that are of little importance to the Islamic street. Instead it must start in an area of vital interest, near to areas of religious influence, with natural barriers for defence and secure bases. The two places that have these qualities are Syria and Yemen.
The conflict in Syria has impacted the jihadist movement in Indonesia (and I'm sure many other countries) in ways that can't be fully appreciated yet. Most significantly it has given the jihadist movement a voice again which can breath new life into what was a dying movement in Indonesia. A number of Islamist leaders and their websites are leveraging it in different ways, one I found most interesting was,

Quote:
The Syrian conflict has already had an impact in Indonesia by convincing many extremists that their local jihad should be set aside for now to devote energy to the more important one abroad.
Quote:
JI’s Abu Rusydan expressed a widely held view when he said: Why should we expend so much energy by thinking small and undertaking a local jihad experiment as we’ve done up till now?
Quote:
He went on to say that history showed that the local jihads only end in defeat, because the enemy will be as strong or stronger than any force trying to destroy them. He used as an example the state set up by the Taliban in Afghanistan in the 1990s that eventually collapsed after the Americans invaded. He also pointed to Darul Islam, defeated by the TNI in the 1960s. He said it was time for Indonesians to join the global jihad – a war undertaken collectively by jihadi forces from different countries in an area where victory was assured in prophecies. Indonesians would find the victory that up till now has been elusive: the establishment of an Islamic caliphate.
The conclusion seems reasonable, but elsewhere in the article the author notes is the political situation in Indonesia changes, then the potential for a revived jihadist movement will exist.

Quote:
Without local grievances to build on, no mujahid coming back from Syria or Yemen or anywhere else can build much of a movement, and without community support, as Abu Rusydan has repeatedly argued, no movement can succeed. Indonesia’s great strengths are its own political stability and relatively peaceful regional environment. It is nonetheless worth keeping an eye on Syria.
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Old 02-03-2014   #11
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They fight with the same tenacity their brothers in the ME do, so much for the argument they're not as susceptible to radicalization.
Yes, they fight hard, and there are radicals. As in most places, the inner circle will not de-radicalize and they will not change. They will eventually have to be killed or imprisoned. What can be done, however, is to isolate that radical core from the broader societal base to the greatest possible extent, which makes it harder for the radicals to hide and to recruit replacements for those arrested of killed. In Indonesia the reduction in domestic sectarian conflict has not eliminated the radical core, but it has succeeded to some extent in isolating it from the broader population.

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Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
They have no qualms about killing those from other ethnic groups, and creating communal strife is still part of their strategy, this wasn't a flash in the pan.
Clearly they want to re-ignite the sectarian fighting, but so far they are not succeeding. 12-15 years ago an incident like that would have generated an instant flare-up. That of course is what the radicals want. Hopefully they won't get it.

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Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
I do agree that the vast majority of Indonesian muslims do not support this, but Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim nation but the 3-7% that are estimated to support these radical views still equates to tens of thousands. Of those a much smaller percentage will be motivated to participate in violent acts, but is still signficant.
3-7% of Indonesia is a lot of people. How many of those will actually give support up to the point of embracing terrorism remains to be seen, though. My guess is that a focus on Syria will prove to be a poor tactical move, as Syria is a long way from Indonesia and not a matter of immediate concern to most Indonesian Muslims... but as always, we will see. Not much to be done about it anyway, beyond keeping an eye on who goes and who comes back. That's the job of the Indonesians, and they are able to do it, though I'd assume that the US and other players will feed them any intel they can on movements of their nationals.
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