Southeast Asia Islamic terrorism


The inability of the Obama strategy to reduce area of control by Daesh [ISIS or ISIL] –and most important its serene song to young Muslims – is reaching worldwide proportions.

The mid-January multiple explosions and gunfire near a shopping mall in central Jakarta, Indonesia, is the latest horror in the region. Whether Daesh is in fact responsible for the bombings is problematical. But its claimed responsibility for the terrorism is spreading. Indonesia technically has the largest Muslim population in the world. In the past repeated and bloody bombings by local offspring of the Mideast terrorists in Bali, a famous tourist mecca has costs hundreds of lives.

Conventional wisdom has it that Indonesia with a reputation for moderate Islam is not a major player in the outbreak of worldwide Islamic terrorism. But that misapprehension rests mainly on the fact that the 100-million Javanese located in Middle and Easter Java, have an underlying and deep-rooted parallel Hindu culture.

But in fact, Indonesian Islam produced its own native terrorism even before the emergence of both Al Qaida and Daesh. In 1949, for example, just before formal independence, two Americans, one a Time correspondent, and another a cultural anthropologist, were assassinated in West Java. Their killers were an Islamic group calling itself Darul Islam and demanding a sharia culture for the country. In 1958, a Muslim-inspired revolt broke out in Sumatra, the Celebes islands in East Indonesia, and the northern tip of Sumatra, Ajeh,

Hadji Agoes Salim, for several decades between the World Wars, the Dutch consul-general in Mecca and one of the original signers of Indonesian independence in August 1945, made an argument for the strength of Islam in his country. As an historian, he argued Islam had in fact established itself in the Archipelago in apposition to the advances of the 350-year-long Dutch rule. Bandung, the country’s third largest city, capital of West Java, has been notoriously a site of religious radicals.

Conservative Muslim enclaves exist throughout the Islands. Minangkabau, a colorful region of western Sumatra, despite its Moslem orthodoxy – in part contradicted by a matriarchal culture – produced moderate Moslem politicians in the early days of the Republic. It was their leadership and influence on the army, under native son and former vice president Mohammed Hatta,that blocked a 1965 Communist coup backed by the Soviets. But the reaction to the attempted coup turned into bloodbath so vast that reliable figures estimate the toll as between half a million and a million Communists and non-Muslims slaughtered.

Whether indeed the recent bombings were ordered by Daesh, or were local “lone wolfe” Moslem terrorist operations, the fact that Daesh has claimed them has changed the perspective in Southeast Asia. Across the narrow Malaccan Strait multinational Malaysia is in disarray with a scandal of massive stealth of government funds involving the current prime minister. There are also links between Malaysian ultra-conservative politicians to the long simmering rebellion of the three southernmost Thailand provinces with Muslim Malay majorities. And there is a similar long-term revolt amongst the Moros, native Muslims of the Philippines Republic, again linked to the neighboring Borneo states of Malaysia.

The continuing failure by the U.S. and its Arab and European allies to destroy Daesh is feeding Islamic terrorism in Southeast Asia. Adding this to the continued friction between Pakistan and India – with its own Muslim population larger than the entire Pakistani population. Meanwhile, Daesh’s very sophisticated internet propaganda is reaching the whole Muslim world of 1.3 billion, with a special appeal to the young including Southeast Asia.

The Obama Administration argues it is taking a long view of Daesh, limiting civilian casualties, reducing the effectiveness of its bombing campaign, and with a minimal U.S. military presence in Iraq and on the Turkish border with Syria. One of the results of this strategy, however, is that so long as it brilliantly commands space on the social media, Daesh is an international menace to the whole Moslem world from Zamboanga to Dakar. Add that to the vacuum Obama’s policies of withdrawal and concessions to Iran and the U.S. is helping to reek havoc through the whole umma [the Moslem world community].

 

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