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Abstract: The nature and extent of the jihadist threat in Southeast Asia was not fully understood until well after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. In the aftermath of those attacks, states in Southeast Asia appeared to move quickly to quash the putative threats in their own countries. Both the Singaporean and Malaysian authorities, for example, detained a number of suspected Islamist militants in late 2001. Nevertheless, official and academic opinion remained for at least another year largely indifferent to the transnational terrorist network that had established itself in Southeast Asia. This indifference and neglect was all the more surprising given the often intrusive intelligence agencies in many Southeast Asian countries. However, these too apparently failed to identify the evolving threat in their midst and the growing danger jihadism posed to regional order. The October 2002 nightclub bombings in Bali, Indonesia, which killed 202 people, changed all of this. Those attacks brought to the world's attention the existence of a sophisticated, regionally-networked web of jihadist activity in Southeast Asia.
Prior to 9/11, regional intelligence cooperation was poor, and there was little awareness of or attention paid to the character and evolution of regional crime and terror networks. In particular, there existed a collective nescience concerning the growing ideological links between the most militant jihadist grouping in Southeast Asia, Jemaah Islamiah [JI], and the globalizing network of networks of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda. One objective of this essay, therefore, is to indicate the process by which al-Qaeda and its regional affiliates attempted to draw localized separatist struggles in Southeast Asia into an evolving but loose network of transnational jihadism. To illustrate how this structure has advanced, we shall show how JI developed through kin groups, marital alliances, cliques, and radical pesantren [religious schools]. Furthermore, we will examine the mix of counterterror strategies that have since 2003 successfully disrupted the organization and its network.
Exploring this evolving, networked organization in Southeast Asia also helps to illustrate a broader point about the character of modern jihadism. Long before it was appropriate to speak of an entity called al-Qaeda or the emergence of Osama bin Laden as its figurehead, those inspired by an Islamist, theo-political vision were already thinking strategically in terms of regional and transnational operations and their political effects. In Southeast Asia, we can trace this vision, if not also the strategy, back to the Darul Islam, or "Islamic Realm," movement.
Abstract: The complexity of the Singapore–Myanmar relationship was reflected in the breadth of opinion offered by participants who attended a roundtable discussion hosted by the Singapore Institute of International Affairs on September 30, 2009. Leaders from the Singapore academic, business, and nongovernmental organization (NGO) communities attended the meeting. Their contributions are graciously acknowledged and provide a strong foundation for this report. Although the group did not reach an overarching consensus on how Singapore should engage Myanmar, the participants did reach conclusions on several points while illuminating many aspects of the relationship. The discussion reflected differences over Myanmar among the different sectors of society represented in the dialogue, as well as shifting public opinion of Singapore’s own image and responsibilities. The group highlighted several concerns about the Myanmar situation and Singapore–Myanmar relations, some gleaned from the group’s uniquely Singaporean perspective. At the meeting’s end, the group proposed a spectrum of options for considering policy recommendations.
This report summarizes the dialogue in four sections. First, the overall outlook on Myanmar is presented. Second, Singapore’s involvement with Myanmar in four sectors is described: government and diplomacy, business and trade, humanitarian aid and technical assistance, and military ties. Third, Singapore’s policy options are discussed and sketched on a spectrum from “proxy” to “pragmatic” to “principled” approaches. Finally, the report suggests how Singapore’s strategy fits into regional and global contexts.
Abstract: To assist Pakistan in building a national rehabilitation
programme, the Government of Pakistan has engaged
Singapore’s International Centre for Political Violence
and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) since 2008. ICPVTR staff
held meetings throughout Pakistan to build support in
laying the foundation for a rehabilitation programme.
This included meetings with both political leaders and
The vision of building a structured rehabilitation
programme for inmates and detainees driven by terrorist
and extremist ideologies was shared by Mr. Tariq Pervez,
chairman of the National Counter Terrorism Authority
of Pakistan, when he participated at the inaugural
International Conference on Terrorist Rehabilitation held
in Singapore on 24-26 February 2009. The paper was aptly
entitled “Challenges of Establishing a Rehabilitation Programme in Pakistan.”
Nonetheless, the initiative to launch the rehabilitation
programme in Pakistan is a natural progression.
Abstract: Deradicalizing Islamist extremists may be even more important than getting them to simply disengage from terrorist activities, according to a new RAND Corporation study that examines counter-radicalization programs in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Europe.
Although there has been much research about the radicalization and recruitment of Islamist extremists, there has been little study until recently about how one deradicalizes those who have been recruited into the Islamist extremist movement.
A key question is whether the objective of counter-radicalization programs should be disengagement (a change in behavior) or deradicalization (a change in beliefs) of militants. A unique challenge posed by militant Islamist groups is that their ideology is rooted in a major world religion, Islam.
The RAND study indentifies and analyzes the processes through which militants leave Islamist extreme groups, assesses the effectiveness of deradicalization programs and summarizes the policies that could help to promote and accelerate the processes of deradicalization.
Abstract: In the past 10 years, the rehabilitation of Muslim radicals has become a pressing issue. Great
numbers of radicals have passed in and out of various incarcerating institutions and are returned
to their societies where they frequently rejoin radical groups, sometimes more radicalized and
technically proficient than they were prior to their incarceration. Both Muslim and non-Muslim
governments have sought different methods to rehabilitate radicals, ranging from arranging
debates between radicals and mainstream Muslim religious elite to confronting them with
betrayals and denunciations by relatives, friends, and associates. There are also full-scale “reeducation”
camps. This policy paper will seek to evaluate these methodologies and propose for
the United States a workable policy for re-integrating radicals into society, thus defusing the
power of recidivism.
Abstract: Reports: 1 Al-Qa`ida’s Five Aspects of Power By The Combating Terrorism Center; 5 A Case Study of the January 2008 Suicide Bomb Plot in Barcelona By Fernando Reinares; 8 A Holistic Critique of Singapore’s Counter-Ideological Program By Kumar Ramakrishna; 11 Shifting Trends in Suicide Attacks By Assaf Moghadam; 14 The Future of Moqtada al-Sadr’s New Jaysh al-Mahdi By Babak Rahimi; 17 Reconsidering the Role of Militias in Iraq By Major James J. Smith, U.S. Army; 19 The Pakistan Army and its Role in FATA By Shuja Nawaz; 21 Iraq’s Border Security: Key to an Iraqi Endstate By LTC Steven Oluic, U.S. Army
Abstract: The 63rd United Nations (UN) General Assembly is poised to debate Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon’s report on the operationalisation of the Responsibility to Protect (referred to as ‘R2P’
for the remainder of this report). It is expected that his report will be released and debated in
early 2009. Therefore, this is a good time to examine the position that Member States have
adopted on the R2P since its endorsement at the 2005 World Summit and policy issues
relating to its implementation through the UN. This report will focus on the Member States of
the Association for South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) with the exception of Myanmar, which
is currently on the UN Security Council’s agenda. It concentrates on their position on the
R2P and their policy priorities in areas related to implementing the principle through the UN.
The report identifies steps that might encourage the region’s governments to become more
positively engaged with the R2P principle.
Abstract: In July 2009, the UN General Assembly held an Interactive Informal Dialogue and plenary session on the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP). The dialogue provided the first opportunity for the UN membership as a whole to discuss implementation of the 2005 World Summit’s commitment to the RtoP and the UN Secretary-General’s report on the matter. Fifteen governments from the Asia-Pacific region, namely Indonesia, the Philippines, Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Japan, China, Vietnam, Solomon Islands, Myanmar, Timor-Leste, DPRK, PNG and Malaysia, participated in the dialogue. This culminated in a resolution co-sponsored by, inter alia, Australia, Fiji, Singapore, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Korea, Timor-Leste and New Zealand that noted the Secretary-General’s report, observed the fruitfulness of the interactive dialogue, and committed the Assembly to further consideration of the RtoP.
According to the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, one of the most significant aspects of the dialogue was the positive transformation of attitudes towards the RtoP within the Asia-Pacific region. Having previously been considered the region most opposed to the RtoP, the region now boasts near unanimity in its endorsement of the principle and the Secretary-General’s efforts towards its implementation (with the exception of North Korea).
Abstract: Piracy in the Straits of Malacca is a large and growing concern for the world. Not only does it cause economic havoc in a critical region, but this piracy may also have connections to terrorism and has the potential to cause an ecological disaster. However, attempts by outside states to establish security regimes have repeatedly run into sovereignty concerns from the coastal states in the region: Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand. Instead of persisting in this failed strategy of externally imposed solutions, interested parties should focus on aiding the creation of an internal security regime through aid and logistical support. Building the capacity of the local navies to patrol the region is the most acceptable and effective solution towards ending piracy in the long run.
Abstract: Hillary Clinton’s visit to Indonesia on her first trip abroad as U.S. secretary of state signaled that the Obama administration intends to pay renewed attention to Southeast Asia, a region with over 550 million people, the world’s largest Muslim nation, an economy of over $1 trillion, and some of the world’s most strategic waterways. This is a welcome development due to the significance of U.S. interests in the region. U.S.–Southeast Asia trade amounts to over $200 billion annually, and U.S. cumulative investment in the region is valued at over $100 billion. Perhaps more importantly, Southeast Asia is a region likely to play a critical role in determining the future of Asia and whether the United States can sustain itself as an Asia-Pacific power.
Enhanced U.S. engagement with Southeast Asia will naturally involve greater attention to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other multilateral forums, but key U.S. interests in the region will continue to be pursued through bilateral partnerships. This will include not only U.S. treaty allies—Thailand and the Philippines—but also key emerging players, particularly Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam. This report assesses the health and potential of these partnerships and offers recommendations to incoming policymakers as they consider the way forward in U.S. policy toward the region.
Abstract: There is an emerging consensus on how to deal with piracy off Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden: improve security on land and establish a strong national security apparatus in Somalia. Can the "Malacca Strait" approach be a model? The Kuala Lumpur International Conference on Piracy and Crimes at Sea was convened on 18-19 May 2009, organised by the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was attended by government officials, as well as experts from inter-governmental organisations, shipping and insurance industries, and academics. The conference was to provide an update on the situation concerning piracy and armed robbery against ships off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden. At the conference, two officials from Somalia reiterated the need for international support for the efforts of the coalition led by the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia. They urged more international support for Somalia to build up its security establishment to ensure order on land as well as good order at sea. If indeed there is a will to build up the maritime security institutions in Somalia, then some of the security measures and institutions established by the littoral states along the Malacca could be used as models.
Abstract: Indonesia has earned well-deserved praise for its handling of home-grown extremism, but the problem has not gone away. In April 2009, ten men involved in a jihadi group in Palembang, South Sumatra, were sent to prison on terrorism charges for killing a Christian teacher and planning more ambitious attacks. Their history provides an unusually detailed case study of radicalisation – the process by which law-abiding individuals become willing to use violence to achieve their goals. The sobering revelation from Palembang is how easy that transformation can be if the right ingredients are present: a core group of individuals, a charismatic leader, motivation and opportunity. Another ingredient, access to weapons, is important but not essential: the Palembang group carried out its first attack with a hammer and only later moved to making bombs.
The group was uncovered by accident. Singaporean authorities and Interpol had mounted an international manhunt for a fugitive Singaporean member of the regional jihadi organisation Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), Mohammad Hassan bin Saynudin alias Fajar Taslim. Indonesian counter-terrorism police were separately pursuing the network of the elusive Malaysian terrorist Noordin Mohammed Top. Both searches led to Palembang in 2006 and the targets turned out to be linked. The Singaporean had helped turn a local non-violent religious study circle into a militant jihadi group that then made contact with the Noordin network. By 2007, the men were under surveillance; by mid-2008 they were under arrest.
Abstract: What to do with the Guantanamo detainees? Uncertainty resurfaced last week, as the Obama administration backed away from earlier statements on U.S. anti-terrorism policies. The president reversed a decision to release photographs of alleged detainee abuse. Then he decided to keep the military commissions for trying terrorist suspects. The White House is now reportedly considering plans to detain some suspects on U.S. soil indefinitely, without trial.
As the administration struggles over the fate of the 241 remaining detainees in its charge, it may want to look to an old Asian ally for a hand.
Meet Ustaz Ibrahim Kassim, one of Singapore's most respected Islamic scholars. His business card describes him as "Assistant Registrar of Muslim Marriages." But Kassim is engaged in a more important enterprise. He is part of his country's innovative program to fend off the threat of Islamic extremism. "We are not scared of [the terrorists]," says Kassim, an older gentleman with a face framed by a neatly trimmed white beard. "We know that history repeats itself, but these problems do not need to be passed on."
Abstract: U.S. policymakers have made securing and maintaining foreign contributions
to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq a major priority since the preparation
period for the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003. This report
highlights and discusses important changes in financial and personnel contributions
from foreign governments to Iraq since 2003.
To date, foreign donors have pledged an estimated $16.4 billion in grants and
loans for Iraq reconstruction, with most major pledges originating at a major donors'
conference in Madrid, Spain, in October 2003. However, only a small part of the
pledges have been committed or disbursed to the World Bank and United Nations
Development Group Trust Funds for Iraq. The largest non-U.S. pledges of grants
have come from Japan, the European Commission, the United Kingdom, Canada,
South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates. The World Bank, the International
Monetary Fund, Japan, and Saudi Arabia have pledged the most loans and export
Currently, 33 countries including the United States have some level of troops
on the ground in Iraq or supporting Iraq operations from nearby locations. Those
forces are working under the rubric of one of several organizations — the
Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I), the NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I); or
the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). Currently, the largest
troop contributors, in addition to the United States, are the United Kingdom, Georgia,
Australia, South Korea, and Poland. Some of these key contributors have announced
their intention to reduce or withdraw their forces from Iraq during 2008. The total
number of non-U.S. coalition troop contributions has declined since the early
stabilization efforts, as other countries have withdrawn their contingents or
substantially reduced their size.
Abstract: This paper quantifies the impact of terrorism and conflicts on income per capita growth in Asia for 1970–2004. Our panel estimations show that transnational terrorist attacks had a significant growth-limiting effect. Transnational terrorism reduces growth by crowding in government expenditures. An internal conflict has the greatest growth concern, about twice that of transnational terrorism. For developing Asian countries, intrastate and interstate wars have a much greater impact than terrorism does on the crowding-in of government spending.
Policy recommendations indicate the need for rich Asian countries to assist their poorer neighbors in coping with the negative growth consequences of political violence. Failure to assist may result in region-wide repercussions. Conflict and terrorism in one country can create production bottlenecks with region-wide economic consequences. International and nongovernmental organizations as well as developed Western countries and regions could assist at-risk Asian countries with attack prevention and post-attack recovery.
This study has six purposes. First, and foremost, we present panel estimates for a sample of 42 Asian countries to quantify the impact of terrorism and conflicts on income per capita growth for 1970–2004. Panel estimation methods control for country-specific and timespecific unobserved heterogeneity. Second, we distinguish the influence of terrorism on economic growth from that of internal and external conflicts. Third, these influences are investigated for cohorts of developed and developing countries to ascertain whether development can better allow a country to absorb the impact of political violence. Fourth, econometric estimations relate violence-induced growth reductions to two pathways— reduced investment and increased government expenditures. Fifth, a host of diagnostic and sensitivity tests to support our empirical specifications. Last, we draw some policy conclusions.
Abstract: Dans le cadre de son doctorat, l'auteur a eu l'occasion de rencontrer quelques aventureux Indonésiens, lointains héritiers des thalassocraties indianisés et des sultanats malais, qui perpétuent les liens pluriséculaires entre les deux rives du détroit de Malacca. Il revient ici sur le cursus de ces trafiquants sumatranais, depuis les rizières asséchées où naissent le besoin et les vocations, jusqu'aux petits villages où les contrebandes s'organisent.
Abstract: Edition 2008. Réunis le temps d’un week-end (30 mai– 1er juin) dans le
confort du Shangri-La Hotel de Singapour — un cadre propice à l’étude des
grands enjeux contemporains de sécurité en Asie…—, les représentants des
27 délégations officielles ont honoré de leur présence et enrichi de leurs réflexions
ce 7eme rendez-vous annuel, plus connu sous le vocable informel de
Shangri-La Dialogue. Un forum annuel unique en son genre en Asie, organisé
par le prestigieux International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) londonien,
lequel célébrait au passage son demi-siècle d’existence de fort belle manière.
Evénement sur lequel les médias occidentaux s’arrêtent de coutume fort peu,
ce « sommet » aux atours moins protocolaires concentre deux jours durant
une somme inédite de décideurs politiques (ministres ; parlementaires) et
militaires (officiers d’état-major), d’experts (institutions internationales ; fonctionnaires
; chercheurs), d’hommes d’affaires et de journalistes autour d’une
pléiade de séances plénières, de tables rondes et de débats publics (et de
réunions plus restreintes...). La diversité et le sérieux des thèmes abordés
(voir p.2), la qualité des intervenants et des échanges, les inévitables
« déclarations » collatérales et autres réactions « à chaud », justifient qu’on
lui consacre ci-après quelque attention.
Abstract: Thousands of international troops remain in Afghanistan, but some members of this coalition are more willing than others. FP looks at whose militaries are pulling their weight—and who could do far more.
Abstract: Despite stringent security and financial measures, terrorists and their financiers continue to raise and move funds through the formal financial system. The emerging threat of "home-grown" terrorism has added a new dimension to the mounting challenge in Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT). More effective counter-measures are urgently needed to boost better awareness and capability. Singapore, a global financial hub, is taking the lead in this proactive initiative.
Abstract: It has been five years since the devastating terrorist attacks by Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) in Bali
killed some 202 people, making it the most lethal terrorist attack since 9/11. In the three
years that followed, JI perpetrated attacks on an annual basis. Since the most recent attacks
in October 2005, JI has suffered a string of defeats, including the November 2005 killing of
its master bomb-maker, Dr. Azahari bin Husin. Since then, JI has not been able to perpetrate
a major terrorist attack against western targets, though it has reached advanced stages of
planning before being thwarted. In June 2007, JI’s two senior-most leaders, Abu Dujana
and Nu’aim, were arrested, a blow that raised questions about the group’s future.
This article, the first in a series on the state of terrorism and insurgency in Southeast Asia, will
identify JI’s prospects in the coming years and explain the group’s resiliency.
Abstract: This week, a deal was signed that might just change the destiny of some East Asian countries.
The deal involved a US$7 billion 300 km pipeline to be laid across northern Malaysia (from Kedah state on the northwestern coast to Kelantan state in the northeast) that will divert up to a third of oil now being carried through the Malacca Strait. Work will begin next year looking for completion in 2014. Expectations are that the pipeline would be made profitable by the demand from oil-hungry China.
The challenge now is to determine whether it is cheaper to transport oil by the proposed pipeline or by tankers to Singapore. Another issue raised is whether Islamic insurgencies in Southern Thailand which is a stone's throw away from the pipeline would be as destabilizing as piracy in the Straits of Malacca. Many in the industry will be watching closely.
Abstract: Today, less than five years after the attack on Bali, the situation in Southeast Asia has changed dramatically. Across the region, jihadist groups like Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiah are struggling to survive, Islamist parties seem to be weakening, and the region's newest leaders openly wage war on terror. Moreover, the United States has played a leading role in these successes, and it has done so without creating much in the way of an anti-American reaction. Indeed, Southeast Asia is proving to be a model for the "long war" against Islamist terror. The lessons of its recent progress deserve to be studied closely.
Abstract: In March 2003, a U.S.-led multinational force began operations in Iraq. At that time, 48 nations, identified as a "coalition of the willing," offered political, military, and financial support for U.S. efforts in Iraq, with 38 nations other than the United States providing troops. In addition, international donors met in Madrid in October 2003 to pledge funding for the reconstru#ction of Iraq's infrastructure, which had deteriorated after multiple wars and decades of neglect under the previous regime.
This testimony discusses (1) the troop commitments other countries have made to operations in Iraq, (2) the funding the United States has provided to support other countries' participation in the multinational force, and (3) the financial support international donors have provided to Iraq reconstruction efforts.
Abstract: A narrow waterway dividing Sumatra and western Malaysia, the Strait of Malacca is a hub of global trade and one of the world's busiest sea lanes. But piracy and terrorism may jeopardize the safe transport of freighters, potentially threatening the region's energy security and increasing the risk of pollution from security measures like controlled burns for land clearing. Summary, presentations, and video online.