Terrorist threat in Asian countries diminished in 2021, Singapore think tank reports – BenarNews


Terrorist threats in countries in Southeast and South Asia declined in 2021, a Singaporean think tank said in its annual threat assessment released this week, noting that movement restrictions linked to COVID-19 had “flattens the curve of terrorism”.

There have been fewer terrorism-related incidents in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Bangladesh as governments battled the pandemic, according to the Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis report published by researchers at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

In Thailand, in 2021, violent incidents linked to an insurgency in the far south were similar to those in the previous year, the researchers found.

“Ultimately, the 2021 survey underscored the continued imperative for states to respond to the longer-term underlying grievances that fuel violent extremism,” the analysis says.

In Indonesia, the largest country in Southeast Asia, the number of attacks and plots by violent extremist Islamic militant groups has declined in the past two years compared to before the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the report.

The relatively stagnant activities of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) in 2020-2021 and the decline in terrorist activities of the Mujahedin in Eastern Indonesia (MIT) in 2021, he said, “can be partly attributed to movement restrictions and higher costs associated with domestic travel due to the pandemic. . “

In 2021, JAD was involved in at least nine incidents, five of which used explosive materials. These included two suicide bombings and a suicide bombing plot, up from 11 incidents the previous year.

Police were the most common target of terrorist incidents in Indonesia, according to the analysis. Other people targeted by Indonesian extremists last year were “civilians, including Christians, as well as mainland Indonesians and Chinese,” according to the report.

Indonesian security forces announced on Tuesday that they had killed Ahmad Gazali, a suspected MIT member, in the mountains of central Sulawesi province, reducing the number of MIT members to just three.

Both MIT and JAD are extremist pro-Islamic State (IS) groups.

Malaysia, Philippines

The analysis specifically linked the COVID-19 pandemic to the decline in terrorist activity in Malaysia last year.

“The movement restrictions brought on by the pandemic that have hampered interstate and international movement have also ‘flattened the terrorism curve’ in Malaysia,” he said.

Authorities made no terrorism-related arrests in Peninsular Malaysia last year, but made around 15 in Sabah between May and September. There were seven arrests in 2020; 72 in 2019; 85 in 2018; 106 in 2017 and 119 in 2016, according to the analysis.

Still, the analysis expressed concern that terrorist threats have moved online.

“Government-imposed lockdowns have forced people to spend more time online, increasing the likelihood that vulnerable people will be exposed to radical ideologies in the cyber realm. Across the region, groups such as IS have stepped up their recruitment and radicalization efforts through social media during the pandemic, ”he said.

Elsewhere, the Armed Forces of the Philippines have praised the resumption of terrorist bases in the southern region of Mindanao.

Nationally, “the number of successful terrorist incidents increased from 134 in 2019 to 59 incidents in 2020 and 17 in 2021, analysts said, defining a successful incident as an attack that injured or killed others. people.

The analysis noted that government-imposed COVID-19 lockdowns were affecting terrorist operations.

“Since they have significantly restricted the movement of the general population, as well as that of terrorists, this made terrorist logistics vulnerable to detection more easily,” he said.

Bangladesh

In Bangladesh in 2021, “there were two failed attacks against four successful in 2020,” the report said, adding that authorities had arrested around 130 terrorist suspects across the country.

Neo-JMB, a pro-Islamic State splinter faction in Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, “appeared to target law enforcement, churches, Hindu and Buddhist figures and workers of non-governmental organizations,” according to the to analyse.

He also said that Neo-JMB was seeking to “train all of its members in the production of IEDs,” as well as “chloroform bombs to target buses, classrooms and public places with the aim of killing silently ”.

Thailand

In the insurgent southern border region of Thailand, 423 violent incidents were recorded, leaving 104 dead and 169 injured until November 2021, according to the report. The scale was similar to that of 2020 where 335 violent incidents occurred, killing 116 and injuring 161.

In the Muslim-majority Great South, as the region is known, more than 7,000 people have been killed since separatist groups resumed an insurgency against the Buddhist majority 18 years ago.

Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), the largest separatist group in the Deep South, reduced its militant operations on humanitarian grounds in April 2020 due to the pandemic. The analysis indicates that this has led to a “significant decrease in violence”.

“In 2021, the BRN kept operations at a low level, so as not to worsen the already perilous situation of the inhabitants of the south,” he said.

After avoiding peace talks with government officials in early 2020, BRN joined the efforts negotiated by Malaysia. A source from the government team said the two sides met virtually in 2021 and that the BRN submitted a ceasefire proposal in May, according to the analysis.

“The BRN proposed the creation of an autonomous ‘Patani Darussalam’, in which the Patani people would have the right to design their own educational and economic systems. In addition, their Malay language and identity had to be officially recognized and preserved, ”he said.


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