Militant Islam’s Expansion in the Southern Philippines — страница 3

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ideal location for attracting other terrorist organizations, namely Al-Qa’ida. The Philippines is not the only country in Southeast Asia deals with militant Islam; however, it is the country that terrorist networks find the most appealing. The Philippines exhibit unique features including the physical geography, a long history of Muslim insurgent movements, domestic groups with domestic grievances, few law enforcement constraints, and already established links with Al-Qa’ida. The Philippine islands are located between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea.[14] The geographical setting of the Philippines consists of thousands of islands located amid water on all sides. This allows for easy access to the islands. The borders in Southeast Asia, especially the state of the

Philippines, are extremely porous. It is simply not possible to police the maritime borders of these states.[15] Terrorists can enter onto many islands without going through any sort of immigration or police checkpoints. They can travel around unnoticed for the most part. This gives the terrorists flexibility to proceed with their agenda without being traced. The long history of Muslim insurgency movements dates back to the Spanish rule. For centuries, the Moro Muslims faced foreign and domestic forces that have tried to infiltrate their region. From these experiences, anger arose and militant Islamic movements formed. Already having such a strong history of resistance and fighting, the southern Philippines invites sympathetic Islamic radicals that are eager to connect with them

and fight in the greater name of jihad, which refers to the central doctrine of Islam that calls on believers to combat the enemies of their religion.[16] The domestic groups [factions of the Moro Muslims] with their domestic grievances are now forming international alliances in pursuit of their goals.[17] These domestic grievances provide an opportunity for terrorists to prey on them. Al-Qa’ida links up with these smaller groups on the basis of sharing in their grievances. Al-Qa’ida has been able to exploit these local conflicts[18], using them to further their own specific agendas. Terrorist groups are able to operate and plan attacks with little concern for their own security. The Filipinos have no computerized immigration or tax databases. Further, the intelligence

services in Southeast Asia are often overly politicized and engaged in fierce bureaucratic infighting. Even if they are not corrupt, these forces are under-equipped and confronted by well-armed rebels. Also, the importance of tourism on economy resulted in lax immigration procedures and easy access visas.[19] These few law enforcement constraints provide the perfect circumstances for terrorists to penetrate the islands of the Philippines. Another appealing feature includes the already established links between the region and radical terrorist leaders and groups. The region has financial ties through businesses, banks, and charities with the Al-Qa’ida network.[20] Al-Qa’ida also has links in Southeast Asia through their Afghanistan connection and their radical teachings that

spread throughout madrasas, Islamic schools. The Afghanistan connection refers to training camps in Afghanistan that many militant Islamic Southeast Asians attended. Osama Bin Laden ran the camps; and they were designed for preparation for later Holy wars. Southeast Asians also attended madrasas throughout the Middle East and Asia. When they returned back to their home fronts, they were committed to running jihads at home and recruiting followers. These militant groups return from Afghanistan and the schools ready to establish networks of madrasas as the base for their operations and recruitment.[21] These terrorists prey on the Islamic peoples’ devotion to their religion. They turn them into militant radicals, if they are not already, and they enhance their fighting abilities,

which gives them more reason to continue attacking. All of these characteristics illustrate the “convenience”[22] that the region offers in luring the terrorists. It also helps to explain the rise in Islamic militancy, simply because the opportunity of convenience persists. The present state of affairs in the southern Philippines suggests that militant Islam will continue to increase in its magnitude. While the combination of grievance and opportunity may explain the emergence of Muslim rebel groups[23], one must take into consideration the powerful effect that Al-Qa’ida has upon these groups. According to a Congressional Research Service Report, Al-Qa’ida has penetrated the region by establishing local cells, training Southeast Asians in its camps in Afghanistan, and by