Understanding The Rise Of Terrorism After 9 11 Politics

Essay add: 19-06-2017, 15:39   /   Views: 15

Post September 11 attacks in the United State had shown the emergence of more terrorist activities around the world especially in the Southeast Asia region. Various major terrorist attacks have increased and shocked the world particularly Southeast Asia.

Subsequently after the September 11 attacks, on 12 October 2002, the Indonesian Government was surprised by the horrific terrorist bombing in the island of Bali (Weatherbee, 2005: 1). The blasts had caused 202 death and injuring 240 people where majority of the victims were Australian (Jamaluddin, 2009: 8). Another suicide bombing happened for the second time in Bali in October 2005 which killed 23 people including three bombers and had injured 129 people. It is believed that both Bali bombing were using the same explosive chemicals. In August 2003, JW Marriott Hotel of Jakarta became the next target. Suicide bombing and car bomb had killed 12 people and injuring 150. Majority of the people killed were Indonesian.

The terrorist attacks continued threatening the political stability of the Indonesian Government when the Australian Embassy in Jakarta was bomb by the suicide bomber in 2004 (Smith, 2010:12). A car explosion had killed 11 people and wounded more than 160. The JW Marriott Hotel was again bomb for the second time in July 2009 as well as another hotel, Ritz-Carlton Hotel five minutes later. Both blasts caused seven death and more than 50 people were injured. Investigation had revealed that both bombing were caused by suicide bombers who checked into the hotels as guests.


All the terrorist attacks had caused major problems towards the stability of the world. They affect socio-economic, political and security stability. Southeast Asia is also having significant negative impact regionally. One of the major economic industries affected is tourism industry. Countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore which has economic profit from tourism are largely suffered. In term of political stability, apart from directly affected by the terrorist act, an increase of anti United State sentiment has increase. United State effort in combating terrorism in Southeast Asia and associating Islam with violence and cruelty have created political instability in certain countries and crafted religious conflict. It eventually possessed ugly relationship between countries.

Security instability will furthermore occur. Not only focusing on terrorist acts, the security of Southeast Asia is facing related threat of transnational crime. Both terrorism and transnational crime are interrelated mainly for funding and arms. This had threatened the security of the country as well as the communities. The impact of any terrorist bombings on the societies also cannot be easily dismissed. It caused psychological effect to the population and creating fear towards everyday life.


Two terrorist groups that exist and operate in Southeast Asia and had established links with al-Qaeda are Jema'ah Islamiyah (JI) whom its homeland is in Indonesia and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) of southern Philippines (Singh, 2009:83). Both terrorist have similar vision of creating pan-Islamic state. Their primary targets are mostly United State and Western interest. JI and ASG are believed to have operational links for many years in terms of financial and training. United State Department of State has described JI and ASG as Foreign Terrorist Organisations.

JI is an Islamic militant group believed to have linked with al-Qaeda. It is the 'Southeast Asia's most notorious and deadly indigenous terrorist organisation' (Smith, 2010:12). A well known Indonesian-based terrorist group, JI is one of the most radical Islamist networks whom to have vision to establish a 'unification of all Southeast Asian Muslims in a new caliphate transcending secular state boundaries' (Weatherbee, 2005:11). Their vision of a pan-Islamic state aiming to create Islamic State comprising Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Southern Philippines, Southern Thailand (Singh, 2009:84). JI was established in 1996 by Abu Bakar Ba'asyir and Abdullah Sungkar who was also the co-leader (Roggio, 2010). Abdullah Sungkar was the one who responsible to establish contact with al-Qaeda. JI is believed to have other cells in Indonesia, Australia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand (Jamaluddin, 2006: 8).

JI has been suspected to have attacked and plotted against United State and Western interest in Southeast Asia. Various major terrorist attacks had been linked to JI such as the shocking 2002 and 2005 Bali bombing, the bombing of JW Marriott hotel in 2003, the bombing of Australian embassy in 2004, and the 2009 JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotel bombings. It is also believed that JI has been involved in various bombings in the southern Philippines which associated with the ASG. Based on Singapore officials, the strength of JI members is estimated to be approximately more than 5000 members.

Another terrorist group which is widely operating in Southeast Asia is Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). ASG has been considered as 'the most violent Islamic separatist groups operating in the southern Philippines' (Mahan, 2008: 325). Most of the leaders had fought in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion. In 1991, the group had 'split from the Moro National Liberation Front' which was lead by Abdulrajak Abubakar Janjalani (Mahan, 2008:325). The leader was killed by the Philippine police in December 1998 and then replaced by his younger brother, Khadaffy Janjalani. According to the Global Security Organisation, Khadaffy Janjalani has also been killed during the raid conducted by the Philippines security forces in Jolo Island, Sulu Province, Philippines in 4 September 2006. The area of operations for the ASG is mainly in the Philippines and also Malaysia.

ASG is accused responsible for various bombings, hostages taking and kidnappings, which aiming for financial gaining for their operation. In 1995, the group has conducted their first large-scale raid over the town of Ipil in Mindanao (Mahan, 2008:325). ASG is also accountable for kidnapping 21 persons from the Malaysian resort island of Sipadan in 2000 including 10 foreign tourists. While in May 2001, the ASG had kidnapped 20 tourists which include three United State citizens from the resort in Palawan. Some of them were murdered. Other attacks linked to ASG such as the bombing in Zamboanga City in 2002, the bombing of Superferry in 2004, the kidnapped and beheaded of seven local workers in Jolo in 2007, the kidnapped of an Irish priest in 2009, and the attack on the village of Tubigan, Basalan in 2010 which killed 11 people (Australian National Security, 2010). The strength of ASG is believed to be approximately more than 400 members.


The threat posed by terrorist groups is extremely serious and has undermined the peace and stability regionally and internationally. Due to that, ASEAN and its member states are taking greater initiatives to deal with the issue of terrorism at the national and international level. The September 11 attacks in the United State and subsequent attacks in Bali had waken-up ASEAN to urgently and seriously acquiring more efforts and initiatives in combating terrorism.

ASEAN had conducted their 7th ASEAN Summit on 05 November 2001 in Brunei Darussalam (Pushpanathan.S. 2003). The agenda was to produce ASEAN Declaration on Joint Action to Counter Terrorism. It was further emphasized during 8th ASEAN Summit through Declaration on Terrorism (Pushpanathan.S. 2003). In 2002, the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC) was held in Kuala Lumpur (Asean Secretariat, 2009) which adopted the Work Programme which implements the ASEAN Plan of Action to Combat Transnational Crime that include element of terrorism. Subsequently, the same year the Annual Conference of ASEAN Chiefs of Police (ASEANAPOL) was held in May 2002 in Phnom Penh (Pushpanathan.S. 2003) aimed to develop mutual aid among the ASEANAPOL members in fighting terrorism.

In January 2003, ASEAN had established an anti-terrorism task force to strengthen cooperation on counter-terrorism amongst police and law enforcement officials (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, 2003). Law to prevent and deter the movement of terrorist across national border was also introduced by the ASEAN Immigration Authorities. On 2 July, 2004, during the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) all ministers had agreed to strengthen the transport security against international terrorism (ASEAN Regional Forum, 2004). These provided a strong basis for the ASEAN commitment in countering terrorism. The 2008 ARF Defence Dialogue held in Singapore also reiterated the priority for counter-terrorism cooperation among ARF members. Another latest meeting of the Eight ARF Inter-Sessional Meeting on Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime held in Bandar Seri Begawan in April 2010 further increased ASEAN long commitment in counter-terrorism (ASEAN Regional Forum, 2010).


ASEAN has also shows commitment in combating terrorism internationally. They are not only focusing on their regional efforts, but also engaging international community to enhance their capability in counter-terrorism. In adopting a comprehensive and more coordinated approach towards counter-terrorism, ASEAN has taken several actions and agreements.

A Joint Declaration for Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism has been set up between ASEAN member countries and Australia, India, Russia and United State (Asean Secretariat, 2009). It is confirming the importance of 'cooperation to prevent, disrupt and combat international terrorism through the exchange and flow of information, intelligence and capacity - building' (Asean Secretariat, 2009).

ASEAN has also building cooperation with European Union (EU) in combating terrorism. The 17th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting (AEMM) has been conducted in May 2009 in Cambodia (Asean Secretariat, 2009). The meeting is focusing on greater collaboration on 'capacity-building for counter-terrorism practitioners and other officials concerned with combating terrorism' (Asean Secretariat, 2009). The 18th AEMM which was held in Madrid, 26 May 2010 further emphasized serious commitment and efforts by both organisations 'to promote counter-terrorism, co-operation and enhance human security, through collective and bilateral approaches' (Council of European Union, 2010).

ASEAN's initiative in combating terrorism is in-line with the United Nations (UN) efforts in fighting international terrorism. It is in accordance with the UN Charter and international law (United Nations, 2010). The third ASEAN - UN Summit which was held on 29 October 2010 in Hanoi Vietnam was a significant event throughout the calendar addressing the peace and stability of the ASEAN region (United Nations, 2010). This year also, the launching of first Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus) in Hanoi portrayed another commitment of ASEAN in fighting terrorism (Asean Defence Military Meeting, 2010).


Initiative in combating terrorism is not only carry out by ASEAN as an organization. Strong members such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Singapore have taken serious step in combating terrorism. The arrest of most wanted JI Operations Chief Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali , in Thailand in 2003 (BBC News, 2006) has open the world's eyes that ASEAN members are taking seriously on combating terrorism. Hambali is an Indonesian citizen who was believes to be involved in the 2002 Bali bombing and also financing the bombing of the Jakarta Marriott Hotel in 2003. He has been dubbed as 'the "Osama Bin Laden" of South East Asia' by the United State Central Intelligence Agency (BBC News, 2006). He is currently detained in the Unites State Military Prison in Guantanamo Bay.

Another success in counter-terrorism operation is shown by the Indonesian Government in which they managed to kill a Malaysian Noordin Mohammad Top in a police raid on 17 September 2009 near Solo, Central Java. Noordin Mohammad Top is Southeast Asia's most wanted man, who has been behind every major attack on Westerners in Indonesia (Terrorism & Security Monitor, 2006). Indonesian Government has also recently conducted counter-terrorism operation on the outskirts of Jakarta which killed three JI militants. All the three militants were wanted for the involvement in the 2002 Bali bombing (Jane's Intelligence Weekly, 2010:10). The commitment of Indonesian Government in combating terrorism was further shown by the arrest of the 'co-founder and spiritual leader of al-Qaeda's affiliate in Southeast Asia', Abu Bakar Ba'asyir (Roggio, 2010).

Multilateral effort between ASEAN members in combating terrorism has led to another achievement made by the Malaysian Government, Indonesian Government and Singapore Government. The capture of Singaporean of Indonesian origin, Mas Selamat Kastari, head of the Singapore cell of JI, by the Malaysian Police demonstrated stronger security cooperation between countries. Mas Selamat Kastari is a 'top terror suspect accused in a plot to crash a hijacked plane' into Singapore's international airport (Associated Press, 2009).


It is fair to say that ASEAN is partially successful in combating terrorism based on their previous achievements mentioned above. This is because ASEAN's success is only through organising more discussion, workshop, and meeting. ASEAN as an important organization has actually no achievement in doing operation in counter-terrorism. ASEAN is not doing any operation in combating or eliminating terrorism. ASEAN seems only succeeded in creating awareness for the member states to take further effort in combating terrorism.

It is proved with the establishment of Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter Terrorism only marked significant effort by Malaysian Government (Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism, 2010). It only provides Malaysia with the most effective means and comprehensive ways of dealing with terrorism. The Indonesian Government individually, had also pledge their commitment to combat terrorist activities in the country. They had established a Special Detachment 88 aimed to focus on counter-terrorism within Indonesia. Singapore had also produced their national security strategy, but what about other countries?

The achievements shown by the individual member states in killing and arresting terrorist suspects and major terrorist leaders in the region further supported the level of success achieved by ASEAN. Most of the success was again shown by individual countries. ASEAN still has a long way to further improve their strategies on counter-terrorism operation. According to the Australian Ambassador in Brunei Darussalam during the lecture on 'Counter-Terrorism by Australian Government', ASEAN is moving towards the success in combating terrorism but still having more difficulties in terms of doctrine, and law enforcement strategies. ASEAN should also needs to work together and focusing more on transnational crime such as money laundering and cross border since this two are the major elements in developing terrorist activities.

The success of ASEAN in combating terrorism could be acquired by attacking terrorist locations using military or police forces. But based on the past operations around the region, it is ineffective and only showing success in winning the battle, but the terrorist activities are still spreading and failed to be eliminated entirely (Keling, 2009: 44). Hence, different approaches should be adopted such as negotiation and diplomacy. The problems can be resolved between the terrorist groups and the government in a more civilized manner and producing less blood. Organisations such as ASEAN, 'may serve as mediators to organise solution diplomaticly, which will hopefully create peace and regional stability' (Keling, 2009: 45).


This essay has examined the initiatives taken by ASEAN in combating terrorism. The level of success is still arguable whether ASEAN as an organization able to combat terrorism successfully or only to deter the terrorist activities. All the initiatives taken by ASEAN regionally and internationally have proven the level of success they have produced. ASEAN do success in addressing the root causes of terrorism through regional integration and narrowing the development gaps among member countries so that the measures and initiatives taken will be effective and sustainable. However, there is still likelihood that terrorist attacks will continue in the future. Therefore, ASEAN would need to continue their commitment in combating terrorism and as well as acquiring support and cooperation from its dialogue partners and the international community.

Article name: Understanding The Rise Of Terrorism After 9 11 Politics essay, research paper, dissertation