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The wake of 11 September 2001 has emerged Southeast Asia as a major arena in the so called Global war on Terrorism. Beginning with the Bali bombings of October 2002 whereby United States considered Southeast Asia to be a "second front" in its global campaign against Islamist terrorism. U.S attention in the region has been focused on a radical Islamist groups in Southeast Asia (Vaughn et al. 2008 :3). Though most states in Southeast Asia have a large number of Muslim population, ranging from 5 per cent in the Philippines to 85 per cent in Indonesia, the fact is that the region has always been measured the Islamic periphery. Muslims in Southeast Asia have long been characterized as spiritual, tolerant, modernist, and development-oriented. Moreover, many people within and outside Southeast Asia had believed that the violence and terrorism, which is a daily reality in the Middle East, was anathema to Southeast Asia (Abuza,s Vol. 24, 2002).
As a consequence, recognising the significance of the topic, terrorism, I will be focusing on the basic-yet-fundamental aspect of terrorism, which is, in what ways is the Al Qaeda connected to the terrorist groups in Southeast Asia. Thus, for the purpose of the flow of the argument, I will be using literature reviews from books, journal articles and online articles that I have selected to support the ideas raised in the essay.
On top of that, for a clear definition of the argument, the outline of this essay will consist of first, briefly describing the groups; The Al-Qaeda, The Jemaah Islamiah, The Abu Sayyaf, The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and the The Patani United Liberation Organisation. Then this will be followed by the discussion on the ways the Al-Qaeda is connected with the other Terrorist Organisations in Southeast Asia. Then before wrapping up the essay with a Conclusion, there will be a section on how the Al-Qaeda's strategies in Southeast Asia have been successful.
The Al Qaeda
Al-Qaeda, which means "The Base," in Arabic terms, is a well known terrorist network founded by Osama bin Laden in the late 1980s. It seeks to clear Muslim countries of what it sees as the irreligious influence of the West and replace their governments with fundamentalist Islamic regimes. After September 11, 2001 attacks, the United States launched a war in Afghanistan to destroy al-Qaeda's bases there and defeat the Taliban, the country's Muslim fundamentalist rulers who harbored bin Laden and his group. Like his predecessor George W. Bush, President Barack Obama has committed U.S. strategy to destroying al-Qaeda's in the Afghanistan - Pakistan region, and warning the group's ability to strike U.S. targets (Bajoria. 2009).
Al-Qaeda begins with the Services Office, a clearinghouse for the international Muslim brigade opposed to the 1979 Soviet attack of Afghanistan. In the 1980s, the Services Office which made by Osama and the Palestinian religious scholar Abdullah Azzam recruited, trained, and financed thousands of foreign mujahadeen, or holy warriors, from more than fifty countries. Bin Laden wanted these fighters to maintain the "holy war" beyond Afghanistan. He formed al-Qaeda around 1988 (http://www.middleeastfacts.com).
It is stated that with the reference of the 1998 U.S. federal outcome, al-Qaeda is administered by a board that "discussed and approved major undertakings, including terrorist operations." The top list is bin Laden. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the head of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, is thought to be bin Laden's top lieutenant and al-Qaeda's ideological adviser. Abu Yahya al-Libi, a Libyan who was captured by Pakistani authorities in 2002 but managed to escape from U.S. prison in Afghanistan in 2005, has emerged as the public face of al-Qaeda and another top-level leader. Some counterterrorism experts consider him a top strategist and a theological scholar, arguing that his religious scholarship makes him one of the most effective promoters of global jihad. Jarret Brachman, a former analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency, told The New York Times that al-Libi "has become the heir apparent to Osama bin Laden in terms of taking over the entire global jihadist movement."
Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, an Egyptian, is a pure member of al-Qaeda's leadership committee and has been an adviser to bin Laden for more than a decade. He served time in prison in the early 1980s with deputy leader al-Zawahiri for their role as conspirators in the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Another important figure is Saif al-Adel, an Egyptian, who is rumored to be under house arrest in Iran along with some other top leaders of the organization, including Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, an Egyptian and financial officer of al-Qaeda. Adel and Abdullah are wanted for their role in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed more than 200 people (Bajoria, 2009).
According to the U.S. State Department's 2008 report on terrorism, while the largest concentration of senior al-Qaeda members now reside in Pakistan, the network incorporates members of AQI and other associates throughout the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, and Central Asia who continue working to carry out attacks against U.S. and Western interests (Bajoria 2009).
The Jemaah Islamiah (JI)
The beginning of the Jemaah Islamiah network extend back to the 1960s, when its co-founders, clerics Abu Bakar Baasyir and Abdullah Sungkar, began demanding the establishment of sharia law in Indonesia. The two measured themselves the ideological heirs of the founder of the Darul Islam movement, the Muslim guerilla force that during the 1940s fought both imperial Dutch troops and the secularist Indonesian forces of Sukarno, Indonesia's founding President who ruled from 1950-65. In the 1970s, the two men established Al Mukmin, a boarding school in Solo, on the main island of Java, that preached the puritanical Wahhabi interpretation of Islam founded and propagated in Saudi Arabia (Abuza 2003 :126).
Sungkar and Baasyir established JI in 1993 or 1994, and steadily began setting up a sophisticated organizational structure and keenly planning and recruiting for terrorism in Southeast Asia. Sometime in the mid-1990s, Sungkar and Baasyir create an active coordination with Al Qaeda. Sungkar and Baasyir were reversed figures. Their speeches are very influencing which attacking the New Order regime and demanding the implementation of sharia won them a large and devoted following (Vaughn, 2007 :6).
According to Sungkar interview (1997) as cited in Abuza's "Militant Islam In Southeast Asia" (2003), "Suharto, using force, makes it compulsory for the Islamic community to accept Pansacila as the only foundation for the nation, political parties and organizations. His regime still applies the system 'detect, defeat and destroy' when applied towards the Islamic movement which is distrusts and regards as subversive"
To that end, Sungkar espoused violent jihad to create Dawlah Islamiaha (Islamic State). Sungkar contended that the Islamic community had to build up three strength which is: Qudwah Aqidah (faith's strength); Qudwwatul Ukhuwwah (brotherhood's strength); and Quawatul Masullah (military strength). In the process he made explicity clear that the Islamic community worldwide would be important contributors in the process of building up these three faiths (Abuza, 2003 :127).
The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)
The MILF is the forefront of the Islamic movement in the Bangsamoro homeland in Mindanao and the neighbouring islands. It was formed in 1977 when Hashim Salamat, supported by ethnic Maguindanaos from Mindanao, split from the Moro National Liberation Front. a more moderate and peace-making approach toward the government. In January 1987, the MNLF signed an agreement requested its goal of independence for Muslim regions and accepting the government's offer of autonomy (Jane's 2002, pp. 20-23).
Abu Sayaf is a small, violent, faction-ridden Muslim group that operates in the western fringes of the big island of Mindanao and on the islands extending from Mindanao. It has a record of killings and kidnappings and has had links with Al Qaeda. Abu Sayyaf kidnappings three American citizens in May 2001. One was beheaded in June 2001. One was beheaded in June 2001. The other two, a missionary couple, the Burnhams (Bruce Vaughn, et al, 2008 :25).
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front is currently the leading Muslims rebel movement fighting the Philippines government. The MILF fields between 12,000 and 15,000 combatants. In many cases, the movement has valid grievances. The Philippines government acknowledge this and thus continues to enter into political negotiations with the front. (Abuza 2003 :90) Its main political objective has been separation and independence for the Muslims region of the southern Philippines. (Thomas, et al, 2008 :25) The MILF has had tenuous cease-fire agreements with the Philippines governments. The government and the MILF concluded a new truce agreement in June 2003. There has been a substantial reduction in violence and armed clashes under the truce (Avery, et al, 2008 :26).
In regards to its dual links, the ASG have their own reasons for making ties with the MILF. At the most basic level, MILF offers what ASG does not have on its own which is money, shelter, training, insfructucture, logistics assistance and help with operations. As they did in the early - 1990s, the MILF required to as a spoilers to the peace process. In a statement made by on of the ASG's spokeman, Abu Solaman, warned, "To our brothers in the MILF, don't waive our nation.s honor, dignity, and right, even in exchange for the whole world. No amount of development can pay for our homeland's illegal and immoral occupation or annexation."( Abuza, 2005 :17,18)
The Patani United Liberation Organisation (PULO)
The Patani United Liberation Organisation (PULO) was founded on 22 January 1968 in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The group was established by Tengku Bira Kotanila, alias Kabir Abdul Rahman, a member of a former princely family from Yingor district in the southern Thai province of Narathiwat. PULO's primary objective is the secession of the majority Malay-Muslim regions of southern Thailand, and the establishment of an independent Malay-Muslim state in their place. This state would be comprised of the provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala and Satun, along with several majority Malay-Muslim districts of adjacent Songkhla (www.janes.com).
Since January 2004, sectarian violence between insurgents and security forces in Thailand's majority muslim provences has left over 1,000 people dead at a rate of about 50 killed per month.(Lum et al, 2008: 27) The PULO is a organization is quite unlike the jihadi movement as Al Qaeda and JI, however the movement is still largely pro-autonomy, devoid of the international jihadist ideology that is propagated by Al Qaeda (Gunaratna, 2005 :9,10)
How is Al-Qaeda connected with The Terrorist Organisations (or The Extremists) In Southeast Asia;
The connection of the extremist in Southeast Asia and Al Qaeda has been crucial since long before the strikes on Pentagon and World Trade Centre. There has been considerable debate over the relationship between JI and Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda's focus is global and definitely targets westerners and western institutions, Jemaah Islamiyah is focused on radicalizing Muslim Southeast Asia and some JI leaders are said to feel that attacking western targets wll undermine the goal, as said by Osama bin Laden (Vaughn, 2008: 11). It is stated that, they have shared training camps in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Mindanao. Al Qaeda has provided JI with considerable financial support (Vaughn, 2008: 11). They have also shared personnel, such as when JI sent an operative with scientific expertise to Afghanistan to try to develop an anthrax program for Al Qaeda (Vaughn,2008: 11).
According to a BIN report, Al Qaeda's Infrastructure in Indonesia, started clearly that " The training camp led by Omar Bandon consisted of 8-10 villages located side by side on the beach, equipped with light weapons explosives, and firing range. Participants of the training are not only from local people but also from overseas. The instructor of physical training in the camp is Parlindungan Siregar, a member of Al Qaeda's network in Spain" (Abuza, 2003, p 152)
In addition to its connection, the two networks have jointly planned operations including the September 11 attacks and reportedly have conducted attacks in Southeast Asia jointly. Often, these operations took the form of Al Qaeda's providing funding and technical expertise, while JI procured local materials (such as bomb-making materials) and located operatives. Riduan Isamuddin (also known as Hambali), appears to have been a critical coordinator in these joint operations, and his arrest in 2003 may have curtailed JI Al Qaeda cooperation. Finally, terrorist attacks in 2003 and 2004 in Morocco, Turkey, and Spain may indicate that Al Qaeda's anti-Western ideology simply is inspiring individuals and local groups such as JI and its affiliates to undertake terrorist acts. (Vaughn, 2006 : 6)
According to Dr. Dirk J. Barreved, the link between Abu Sayaf and Bin Laden can also be seen in the figure of Khalifa, a brother in law of Bin Laden. He was a frequent visitor of Basilan and Sulu in the early years of Abu Sayaf wherby he is considered as the liason between Bin Laden and Abu Sayyaf (J.Barreveeld, 2001: 230). By late 1993, Khalifa's visits to the Southern Philippines had become rare. The latter part of 1993 and early part of 1994 was considered a crucial period of Abu Sayyaf. It was supposedly then that it was to receive the amount of US$ 1 million for the use in strengthening its military capability. Abu Sayyaf was plugged into the international network of Islamic militants that received the support of Osama bin Laden. Abu Sayyaf al Qaeda links are strong. Many of its fighters claim to have trained in Afghanistan, including as many as 20 who were in the graduating class of a Mazare Sharif camp in 2001; the titular group leader, Janjalani's brother, refined his terrorist skills in Libya. Zamboanga City, a Mindanao Islamic hotbed, was frequented by members of al Qaeda. Yet the best indicator of al Qaeda's influence is the relationship Janjalani forged with Saudi Arabian businessman Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, bin Laden's brother-in-law (www.cdi.org).
In 1991, the ASG received aome P12 million ($6 million) from foreign sources mainly from Al Qaeda but also from Libya, among others. On January 29, 1992, the ASG received some P160,000 from Khalifa. The ASG began to received large deliveries of weapons mainly from Libya. Abu Sayyaf began its terrorist attack in the Philippines in 1991 when it killed two U.S evangelists in a grenade blast in the city of Zambonga (Abuza, 2003, p.101).
A large number of Filipino and foreign civilian has also been attacks which includes the bombing of a ferry in Manila harbor which killed 194 people in February 2004. Intelligence officials directly connected Abu Sayyaf with Al Qaeda, alleging that Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law provided the group with start-up funding and that Abu Sayyaf's first leader, Aburajak Janjalani met with Bin Laden in Pakistan in the early 1990's. Additionally, intelligence officials believe that Abu Sayyaf members have trained in Al Qaeda terrorist camps in Afghanistan. Despite their past cooperation, the current operational links between Al Qaeda and Abu Sayyaf are unclear. (www.adl.org)
How Al-Qaeda tactics in Southeast Asia been successful
Southeast Asia was always considered the "Islamic fringe", home to mostly secular muslims (Abuza, 2003 :3). For most part, the grievances of radical Muslims across Southeast Asia are local in nature (Abuza, 2003 :4) . The success of the war on Islamist terrorism depends heavily on how the threat is perceived and the campaign is managed at the policy, strategic, operational and tactical levels (Gunaratna, 2005: 12).
Ressa (2003 :189) believe that there is no difference between Al Qaeda and JI (Jemaah Islamiah), as the latter operates as a subsidiary of the former. The success of Bali Bombing was indeed the work of Al Qaeda, which provided funds, training and some of the personnel to supplement JI's home-grown recruiting. The ease with which massive explosives were obtained enough to kill over 200 people and the plan make it virtual certainty that some- thing like it will happen again.
What makes Southeast Asia such fertile ground for Al Qaeda is its large muslim population within a political landscape that is much more open and fractured than the Arab Middle east. So as mentioned above I believed that Al Qaeda tactics is considered a success. This is because the coordination between the other terrorist groups in Southeast Asia has been link quite well with regards to its operations, personnel, finance, capability and resources.
Summary and Conclusions
As to summarise, it is clear that Al Qaeda has penetrated by establishing cells, cooperating with radical Islamist groups in Southeast Asia have create to carrying out attacks against western targets which include 2002 bali bombing, 2004 suicide bombing attack at Australian Embassy in Jakarta and in 2005 three suicide bombers in bali, killing more than 20 people. The responses of countries in the region and to the U.S reaction generally have various with the amount of their concerns about their threat to their own stability.
To conclude, In this essay i have briefly talk about the extremists groups which are the Al Qaeda, the Jemaah Islamiah, the Abu Sayyaf group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and some point on Pattani United Liberation Organisation. I have also touched on the discussion on the way the Al Qaeda is connected with the terrorist organisation in Southeast Asia. Beside that i have also focus on how the Al Qaeda strategy in Southeast Asia have been successful.