Terrorism in Southeast Asia
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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Since September 2001, the United States has increased focus on radical Islamist and terrorist groups in Southeast Asia, particularly those in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. Southeast Asia has been a base for terrorist operations. Al Qaeda penetrated the region by establishing local cells, training Southeast Asians in its camps in Afghanistan, and by financing and cooperating with indigenous radical Islamist groups. Indonesia and the southern Philippines have been particularly vulnerable to penetration by Islamic terrorist groups. Members of one indigenous network, Jemaah Islamiyah JI, which has had extensive ties to Al Qaeda, helped two of the September 11, 2001 hijackers and have confessed to plotting and carrying out attacks against Western targets. These include the deadliest terrorist attack since September 2001 the October 2002 bombing in Bali, Indonesia, that killed approximately 200 people, mostly Westerners. Since the Bali bombing in 2002, crackdowns by various governments in the region--encouraged and in some cases supported by the U.S. government and military--are believed to have weakened JI to such an extent that it essentially is no longer a regional organization, but rather is one confined to Indonesia, with some individuals still operating in the southern Philippines. The degrading of JIs leadership structure is believed to have altered the groups strategy. More violent, anti-Western JI members have formed breakaway cells. In September 2009, Indonesian authorities claimed they had killed the leader of one such cell, Noordin Mohammed Top. Noordin is believed to have been responsible for organizing the near simultaneous July 17, 2009 bombings of the J.W. Marriot and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta. The bombings were the first successful anti-Western terrorist attack in Indonesia in four years.
- Unconventional Warfare