Southeast Asia: ISIS's next front
Berrier, Connor H.
Malley, Michael S.
Weiner, Robert J.
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This thesis examines key factors that may help the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) establish a new province, or front, within Southeast Asia. It poses the questions: What conditions have already allowed ISIS's brand of terrorism to spread to the region and how could they enable the terrorist organization to establish a front there? Four factors were examined across Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia. These factors include the presence and strength of ISIS-aligned terrorist groups, the production and location of ISIS-affiliated foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), the number and severity of ISIS-linked activity, and the overall level of each state's weakness. While no country remains completely insulated from ISIS, the Philippines is by far the most exposed. The country faces several challenges--a unified network of structured pro-ISIS groups, scores of incoming Southeast Asian FTFs, a large number of severe ISIS-linked activities, and a lack of counter-terrorism (CT) capacity. Without making significant changes to the country's CT efforts, the Philippines will likely continue to face the greatest ISIS threat in the region. The findings identified in this thesis may help other countries detect and improve key vulnerabilities that, if left unchecked, may advance ISIS's influence.
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