Magazine article National Defense

New Terrorism Threats Emerging in Asia-Pacific

Magazine article National Defense

New Terrorism Threats Emerging in Asia-Pacific

Article excerpt

* The advancement of Islamic terrorism to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region will threaten the security of Australia and its neighbors in the coming year, according to Australia's former minister for defence.

"The spread of Islamic terrorism to the Indo-Pacific remains the most significant immediate threat to regional security," said Kevin Andrews, a current member of the Australian parliament. He served as the minister for defence from December 2014 to September 2015.

Recent events indicate that violent extremist ideals are expanding throughout the region. In January, a busy commercial area in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta was racked with gunfire and suicide bombings, killing eight people--four assailants and four civilians. The Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, claimed responsibility for the assault.

In the coming year, these threats will coincide with other incidents that could aggravate the situation for countries in the Asia-Pacific region, Andrews noted during a discussion at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C. think tank.

The release of several Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) adherents from Indonesian jails this year could stoke the flames of violent extremism, he said. JI is an Indonesia-based clandestine terrorist network that aims to establish an Islamic state encompassing southern Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei and the southern Philippines, according to the national counter-terrorism center under the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence. JI operatives began conducting attacks in 1999.

In an essay titled, "From Prison to Carnage in Jakarta: A Tale of Two Terrorist Convicts, Their Mentor Behind Bars and the Fighter with ISIS," published in January by the Brookings Institution, authors Susan Sim and Noor Huda Ismail describe the state of Indonesian jails and their ineffectiveness in reforming radical jihadists.

"Our interviews reveal that for Indonesian jihadists, a spell in prison, rather than being an intervention stage, is seen as a way station to further glory," they said. "Many leave prison not only unreformed, but also more influential in local jihadi circles."

The second incident that will occur simultaneously is the return of foreign fighters from the Middle East to the region, which could bolster support for ISIL, Andrews said. …

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