Combating terrorism in the Philippines to improve U.S. homeland security
Lowery, William E.
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This thesis will seek to shed light on the broader issue of whether or not the United States can enhance homeland security by fighting terrorism abroad, in the Philippines specifically, and help deepen our understanding of the dynamics at play. It will do this first by examining the key terrorist organizations operating in the southern Philippines, providing an understanding of what motivates them, how they operate, and how terrorist activity in this region impacts U.S. homeland security. Analysis of U.S. policies and efforts to minimize this activity will reveal whether or not they have enjoyed any measure of success. The efforts put forth by the United States over the past nine years have been significant, involved a sustained U.S. presence in the affected areas, and cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars. The second front in the global war on terrorism has not produced a direct attack on U.S. interests since 9/11. Additionally, the focus on the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) has produced definitive results, but terrorist attacks in the region persist, threatening the stability of the Philippines and U.S. interests there. This thesis concludes that, while the United States has enjoyed some successes, clearly it has yet to confront the root causes of the problems in the southern Philippines. While the United States aggressively pursued the ASG, as recently as 2008, a breakdown in the peace process talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) resulted in displacement of hundreds of thousands of residents in the southern Philippines. Another breakdown could likely end up having history repeat itself unless the United States adopts a more comprehensive strategy that addresses the root causes underlying the separatist movements.
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