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Southeast Asia

The Second Front


Southeast Asia is the U.S.' second front in the war on terror, after the Middle East, and includes the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.
Southeast Asia

The U.S. Navy prepares to look for illegal weapons smuggled by ship in the South China Sea. May 28, 2006.

Edward Baxter, US Navy

The War on Terror in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is home to a number of homegrown Islamist groups with reported ties to Al Qaeda and a willingness to use terrorist tactics to achieve its aims: a transnational Islamic state in the region. As reported in a 2003 Congressional Research Service Report, Bush Administration actions in the region have included:
  • Pressure on Southeast Asian countries to step up their law enforcement practices against terrorist suspects and organizations;
  • Deployed troops to the Philippines to assist in efforts against the Abu Sayyaf group
  • Increased intelligence sharing and military-to-military relations with Indonesia
  • Pledged aid in the hundreds of millions to both the Philippines and Indonesia.
  • Signed a multilateral agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Active Terrorist Groups in Southeast Asia

Active groups include:

Background to Terrorism in Southeast Asia

Political violence has long been part of the Southeast Asian landscape. Communist groups and anti-Communist militants, state-sponsored violence against separatists and other militia activity have all played a part. Islamic separatists who wished to withdraw from majority Christian or other ethnic populations were also part of this landscape. The growth of Islamist radicalism in Afghanistan in the 1980s helped fuel more radical Islamic separatists, who received funding and support from Middle Eastern groups. Other factors, such as reasonably open borders, easily acquired weapons and a flourishing drug trade, helped support some groups. The 2002 Bali bombings by Jemaah Islamiyya raised awareness of this problem. Read more:
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