News / Asia

Asia Faces Diminished Terror Threat 10 Years After 9/11 Attacks

Brian Padden

The September 11, 2001 terror attacks on America initially inspired some Islamic extremist groups in Asia, but over the last decade the terrorist threat in Asia has either diminished or has been confined to remote areas away from major cities and tourist destinations. The success of the war on terror in Asia is in part due to effective law enforcement, but also because the conditions that sustain terrorist movements do not exist in much of Asia.

After seeing the U.S. military response to the 2001 attacks on America, Indonesian Islamic militant groups shifted their focus from attacking local Christians to joining the al Qaida-led jihad against the West. The change in strategy led directly to the Bali Bombing in 2002 that killed over 200 people, mostly Australian tourists. Other attacks followed. But law enforcement efforts to disrupt and dismantle terrorist groups over the last 10 years have been successful. And public trials have turned popular opinion against groups involved in the killing of innocent people.

Sidney Jones, Southeast Asia security analyst with the International Crisis Group, says the strategy to attack Western targets also proved over time not to be popular in local radical circles.

"The people who got involved in radical movements overwhelmingly got involved for local reasons, even though solidarity with Muslims persecuted overseas was a very important part of the rhetoric, but the drivers were local," Jones explains.

She says Indonesian extremist groups are now shifting back to local targets. The last major terrorist attack was the 2009 bombing of two hotels in Jakarta, but attacks against local religious minority groups and police have been on the rise.

In the Malaysia, the Philippines, China and Thailand, the issues that drive Islamic militant groups are also local.

In southern Thailand, indiscriminate bombings and attacks against civilians have been linked to a Muslim insurgent movement fighting for independence.
Srisompob Jitpiromsri is director of the insurgency monitoring group Deep South Watch. In Thailand, he says, groups who engage in violence have not been linked to international terrorist organizations.  He says the roots of their conflict are based more on discrimination against the ethnic Malays than on religious ideology.

"This kind of identity has been suppressed or subjugated by the central government for over, you know, many decades," Srisompob  says. "You might say that, you know, 100 years ago, it has developed since this area of the southern border of Thailand has been annexed into Thailand or Thai Kingdom."

He says the conflict will continue to simmer until a political settlement can be reached.

There have been incidents of violence and tension in western China's Xinjiang province between Muslim Uighurs residents and Han Chinese immigrates.  Chien-peng Chung, associate professor of political science at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, says economic problems lie at the heart of this conflict and so far China has not used the threat of terror to crack down on its disgruntled Muslim minority.

"I could not say there is systemic suppression of ethnic minorities or of their grievances. Certainly not until and unless it erupts in violence. Then the Chinese government would most likely take some action,"  Chung says.

He says China is taking steps in the right direction to address the cause of the conflict by providing a number of university scholarships and government jobs to the Uighur minority.

But it was in Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population in the world, where the terrorist threat after 9/11 was the greatest.
Security analyst Jones says that while dismantling militant groups and addressing real grievances are important, Indonesia's success in reducing terror attacks was due in part to the growth of democracy.

"If you look at where terrorism arises, there are usually three factors," notes Jones. "Either a place is under occupation, i.e. Palestine or Chechnya, or it faces a repressive government, or it has an alienated immigrant community. And Indonesia has none of the above."

While terrorism in Asia has so far been contained, Jones says authorities and the public must remain on guard against even a small number of extremists intent on using violence to impose their will.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid