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Global Terrorism Index shows continuing risk

Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia grapple with a spectrum of extremist ideologies and militant groups.

By Aditya Surya for Khabar Southeast Asia in Jakarta

January 09, 2013
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Terrorism remains a potent threat in parts of Southeast Asia, even though efforts to counter extremism have yielded fruit in some countries, a first-of-its-kind report suggests.

  • Relatives carry the coffin of bomb blast victim Ibusti Sudana to a

					crematory during his funeral in Bali in October 2005. Terrorism remains a

					serious risk in some parts of Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Thailand and

					the Philippines. [Jewel Samad/AFP PHOTO]

    Relatives carry the coffin of bomb blast victim Ibusti Sudana to a crematory during his funeral in Bali in October 2005. Terrorism remains a serious risk in some parts of Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. [Jewel Samad/AFP PHOTO]

The newly-launched Global Terrorism Index (GTI), published December 4th, ranks 158 countries based on the number of terrorist attacks, the number of fatalities and injuries from terrorism, as well as the estimated property damage. It is produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).

Two countries in the region – Thailand and the Philippines – were in the top ten, indicating a high risk of terrorist activity. Thailand, struggling to contain a shadowy insurgency in its southern border provinces, ranked 8th. Among Southeast Asian nations, it was first on the list.

"Out of the terrorist attacks which were claimed or attributed to a group, almost all entirely are related to the insurgency in the south of the country between Muslim separatists and the Thai government," the report said, while noting that the perpetrators remain unidentified in 85% of attacks.

"The main targets excluding private citizens were businesses, police and educational institutions including schools which terrorists regarded as representing the Thai government," it added.

In the Philippines, meanwhile, militant groups representing a spectrum of ideologies – from Islamist extremism to Marxism-Leninism -- continue to wreak havoc. Ranking 10th on the list overall and second in Southeast Asia, the country is currently finalising a peace deal with one of the main militant outfits, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

"Terrorism in the Philippines is intrinsically tied with nationalist separatist claims by people living in provinces in the Southern Philippines," the report said.

Extremists in Indonesia rebuild their ranks

The worst terrorist attack in Southeast Asia during the past decade occurred in Indonesia, where militants linked to the Jemaah Islamiyah network bombed a crowded Bali resort in 2002, killing over two hundred people.

Counterterrorism police have since broken up the main terrorist networks and imprisoned or executed key militant operatives. But militant cells continue to operate, often in areas of the archipelago where the government and police have more limited reach. Karanganyar (Central Java), Madiun (East Java), Poso, and Ambon have emerged as hotspots in recent years.

The country ranked 29th on the GTI -- significantly below Thailand and the Philippines, but above Malaysia, which was 91st.

"In 2012, Indonesia has found many new faces of terrorism," Al Chaidar, a terrorism expert who focuses on Indonesia, told Khabar Southeast Asia via telephone. "There are many factions among the networks; they are growing and establishing other smaller groups."

Many groups train in heavily forested mountains, away from local communities, he said. There they learn to shoot and make bombs.

Compared to earlier militant networks, the emerging groups "focus more heavily on recruitment, and their strategies are now more developed", Chaidar said.

Despite the changing profile of extremism, younger militants still have ties to their predecessors, he said. For example, a 19-year-old terror suspect named Farhan Mujahidinwho was killed in a shootout with police in Solo on August 31st, is the stepson of Abu Omar, a member of Jemaah Islamiyah with ties to Abu Sayyaf. Abu Omar was arrested in July 2011 for attempting to smuggle weapons from the Philippines into Indonesia and Malaysia; he is now serving a ten year prison sentence for the smuggling operation.

Militants feed off of poverty, identity crisis

The GTI shows the urgency of countering efforts by extremist groups to attract a fresh generation of operatives, Indonesian sources told Khabar.

Purnama Wirtana, 48, said more active intervention is needed. "The first step is really to stop the recruitment. Then we need to be ready with intelligence in order to cut terrorist funding," he said.

Eric Hiariej, a professor at Gadjah Mada University, said terrorist groups are able to capitalize on economic grievances and psychological confusion.

Terrorists are not only motivated by religion but also by a "torn identity", he told Khabar.

Reader Comments
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    • ichal
      March 19, 2013 @ 10:03:46AM
    • very nice
    • syukri
      March 14, 2013 @ 08:03:23AM
    • i lake this..............
    • Javeed R.A
      March 13, 2013 @ 10:03:28PM
    • The problem in Indonesia is a certain race dominates a province. The Government must do trans-migration and mix this races equally in all its provinces. e.g. Send 1/15 population of East Java to Western Sumatera and vice-versa. 1/15 West Java to Central Sulawesi and vice-versa. Opportunities too be provide for them, so that the rely on other races to prosper. This will create an harmonius Indonesian People.
    • sham
      March 7, 2013 @ 09:03:27AM
    • Rich natural resourses were wasted on fighting for stupid ending purposes-
    • eren
      February 27, 2013 @ 03:02:37AM
    • ok
    • A.Widodo
      February 26, 2013 @ 01:02:45AM
    • Indonesians, wake up, be united to face terrorism. Pancasila must be upheld, pluralism is a gift from The Almighty. Religion should not be disputed- it is individual beliefs. We impart BUDI PEKERTI for horizontal relationships (interactions with others, regardless of Race Tribe and Religion)
    • Ontha
      February 25, 2013 @ 10:02:41PM
    • "The country ranked 29th on the GTI -- significantly below Thailand and the Philippines, but above Malaysia, which was 91st." What does this statement mean?
    • Sarawut Khengkhan
      February 25, 2013 @ 12:02:35PM
    • Thailand support
    • mas joko
      February 20, 2013 @ 07:02:09AM
    • yeah guud
    • Amiruddin.
      February 19, 2013 @ 06:02:26AM
    • That is right.
      February 17, 2013 @ 05:02:57AM
    • I agree with the organisation (government) to prevent recruitment as the first and main step to reduce GTI. I agree too that their is not islamic and neither christianic in motive.
    • klawmkim
      February 6, 2013 @ 01:02:55AM
    • Same to you.
    • haeruddin
      February 3, 2013 @ 08:02:29AM
    • Being religious and nationalist are the solution.
    • machmud effendi
      January 29, 2013 @ 09:01:38PM
    • These articles are very good. It is exactly the kind of information I need to expand my knowledge. Thank you.
    • atteq ahmed
      January 28, 2013 @ 12:01:47PM
    • v gud
    • sttan
      January 26, 2013 @ 10:01:58PM
    • proverty and equality is the main problem.
    • Hidayat Jonas Manggis.Ssos MAp
      January 26, 2013 @ 06:01:48PM
    • The ideology of Pancasila needs to be strengthened. We must then learn to read the Qur'an so we can integrate what we find in the holy verses with the ideology of Pancasila. We must ensure that we become people who can impart wisdom to others, especially our families and those around us.
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