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An Asian view on radical Islam and terror

By Damian Pheny - posted Monday, 7 December 2015

The Allies' fight against militant Islam is focused on Syria and parts of the Middle East. As if destroying IS in Syria will culminate in peace on earth and goodwill toward man. There is a whole new league of Islamic militants flourishing across the world with South East Asia being the frontrunner as the next frontier.

The UK-based The Economist reported early this year:

As the Islamic State continues its armed campaign in Iraq and Syria, its ideology is drawing fans and fighters from as far as Southern Asia and China. Importantly, four new terrorist organizations are already aiming to establish an Islamic Caliphate in the Far East region called Daulah Islamiyah Nusantara that is to comprise Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, southern Thailand and southern Philippines.


The authorities in South East Asia are, at best, dispassionate spectators to the carnage across Europe. The IS does not operate in South East Asia and is not a direct threat to the region.. But, the IS ideology and perceived triumphs in Europe, such as the recent Paris bombings, serve as inspiration for Islamic radicals in Asia.

South East Asia, and in particular Malaysia, Southern Thailand and Mindanao (in that order) are just breeding grounds for a sustained onslaught against all that is seen as not Islamic.

Malaysia, for instance, has a national Islamization strategy of its own that in broad terms sits well with IS ideology; minus the suicide bombers, for now.

The specter of terrorism however, offers opportunities for preserving the monopoly on political power by the authoritarian governments in the region. It is more often used as a tool to suppress disenchantment with the establishment than neutralizing actual terrorists; anchoring oppressive regimes and protecting the ruling elite who have an insatiable appetite for plunder. South East Asian Muslim oligarchs look to their counterparts in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East for enlightenment and inventiveness in maintaining a lasting stranglehold on absolute power, and to the very obliging West, for financing that monopoly.

The Western powers are fully cognizant of the insidious polity of the South East Asian nemesis, for it is no different from their experience in the Middle East.

America perceived the arming of "rebel" groups in the Middle East as a viable complimentary business to destabilize governments that were inhospitable to American interests. There is little doubt that the birdbrained bureaucrats in Washington that consummated this nonsensical strategy are, to a large degree, responsible for the heinous threat from terrorism that Europe now faces. The policies have been a contemptible disaster that has boomeranged and is now the single most obvious cause for the threat to the security of the citizenry of the world.


Clearly, the policymakers of the West have blood on their hands. Yet, we find history repeating itself. America unashamedly cultivates the deadly regimes of South East Asia for the economic treasures that it holds. President Barrack Obama was in Malaysia in mid November 2015 for the ASEAN Summit where he oozed and gushed at the robber barons of South East Asia as they belched out melodramatic bluster about the evils of terrorism. Wink, wink, Nudge, nudge. Obama's priority is clearly his legacy as the outgoing President rather than the security of American citizenry or the world. Ignoring the immorality of consorting with suspected criminals who are officially under investigation and have not as yet been absolved of wrongdoing by America's very own enforcement agencies, brings Obama's sincerity into question and his character into disrepute.

The United Nations' cowardly excuse that these despotic regimes are the responsibility of its citizenry and the province of sovereign determination is cruelly senseless. The citizenry of these nations don't stand any chance in righting the wrongs within their borders when the UN sidesteps Western policies designed to set the natives up for failure. International apathy for criminal regimes and the synchronous sabotage of the efforts of Asian civil society for a more accountable domestic union in Asia can no longer be excused as acceptable collateral damage for Western economic gain. Not only because such an attitude is unscrupulous and sinful but because the wider repercussions are, as is now obvious, the threat to the lives of innocent inhabitants domestically and in the West. Surely, somewhere in the chronicles of Western law, such exploitative conduct is legally actionable.

Asian cynicism and distrust of Western administration therefore is defensible. Asians consider Western leaders equally corrupt as their Asian counterparts. Asians do not see Western leaders or even the United Nations as the guardians of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that the biased Western media portrays them to be. They believe that the leaders of the Western world operate far beyond the scope of the mandate of their office.

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About the Author

Damian Pheny is a business man who lives in Malaysia.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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