Edited by Andrew T.H. Tan
Chapter 20: Terrorism in Southeast Asia: Threat and Response
Rohan Gunaratna In the post-9/11 world the Southeast Asian terrorism landscape has undergone profound change. Following the US-led coalition intervention in Afghanistan in October 2001 and invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the dispersal of al-Qaeda worldwide into less centralized nodes has dictated the dramatically altered security environment in Southeast Asia. To carry on a campaign of international terror, a weakened al-Qaeda has relied on regional and local Islamist groups worldwide to include its Southeast Asian counterparts. This is reﬂected in a marked increase since 9/11 of plans to attack and successful attacks conducted by Jemaah Islamiah (JI) on targets of the West, and/or its perceived allies. Its latest attack was on 1 October 2005 when three suicide bombers for a second time struck two seafood cafés in Jimbaran beach resort and a three-storey noodle and steakhouse in downtown Kuta, Bali, Indonesia’s most popular tourist destination.1 Although JI’s fundamental objective is to create an Islamic caliphate in Southeast Asia, this most recent attack underlines the continued threat to economic and Western targets in Southeast Asia. Al-Qaeda background In the late 1980s, Afghanistan and Pakistan became the international centre for ideological and physical war training of Islamist guerrilla and terrorist groups. Following the defeat of the Soviet Army in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda continued to provide trained recruits and funds to local Islamist groups ﬁghting in conﬂict zones where Muslims were suﬀering including Tajikistan, Kashmir, Bosnia, Chechnya, Dagestan, Mindanao and Xingjiang. As an organization with a global membership, al-Qaeda...
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