Militant Islam’s Expansion in the Southern Philippines — страница 4

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financing and cooperating with indigenous radical Islamist groups.[24] It’s vital to note that the connection between militant Islamic groups and Al-Qa’ida is very prevalent. The ASG and Al-Qa’ida have exhibited their presence over the last decade. In January 2002, Philippine authorities apprehended an Indonesian suspected of involvement in Al-Qa’ida plots against American targets in Singapore.[25] There have been many other cases in which Al-Qa’ida has been suspected of connections in bombings, deadly attacks, beheadings, etc…with Abu Sayyaf, who carries out the collaborated attacks. Most recently, the Asian Times reported, A bomb attack on a public market in the southern city of General Santos on Sunday December 12, 2004 killed at least 14 people and wounded 59

others. Police sources say that they are looking into a feud between two families with ties to separatist group MILF as a possible motive. There had been a previous attack on General Santos in 2002, where 14 people were killed in a shopping mall explosion later blamed on Abu Sayyaf and MILF. The entire south has suffered from bloody terrorist attacks and mass kidnappings in recent years that have been blamed on these Muslim extremists.[26] This definitely portrays the current presence of these militant groups. They continue to wreak havoc in the Philippines, increasing in their severity and numbers. There is an intensified growth in Islamic extremism, partially due to Al-Qa’ida’s penetration into the local groups. Because of the American War on Terror, Afghanistan lost its

secure base of terrorist fronts and camps in late 2001. This prompted Al-Qa’ida to move, establishing Southeast Asia as a “Second Front”.[27] Many scholars and analysts now refer to Southeast Asia as the “second front” of terrorism because of the shift in operations after the fall of the Taliban. The terrorist network has expanded immensely throughout Southeast Asia; and the southern Philippines play a specific role in providing a central location for them to conduct operations. I am in agreement that the southern region of the Philippines will be regarded as the “official” base for most terrorist networks. The region is a breeding ground for future militant operations. Many of the people of the region have come to embrace militant Islam in its practice. Terrorists

migrate to the south because of all the conveniences that it offers, namely loose restrictions. They connect with the militant Islamic groups and form greater communities with more radical ideologies. It is my perspective that since militant Islam remains on the rise, it will only reach higher levels of extremism with deadlier consequences for the world. The escalating tensions between the Philippine government and the militant Islamic groups are nowhere near subsiding nor coming to resolutions. I believe that militant Islam, in joining with radical Islamic terrorists in the southern Philippines, will produce a network base so large as never seen before. Al-Qa’ida has been brilliant in its co-option of other groups…Bin Laden tries to ‘align with local militant groups with

country-specific grievances to increase his reach and influence’.[28] Al-Qa’ida has succeeded in rooting itself within these militant groups, especially Abu Sayyaf. Not only will the south become the major operational hub as stated by many analysts, but also I believe that terrorism will spread drastically all over the world thanks to such an available flexibility that the south provides. Right now the terrorism focus is on the Middle East. Most people think of the Arab region of the Middle East when they hear of terrorists. This is a classic example of Western thinking. It is precisely this conventional thinking that led to the United States’ surprise attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor. They didn’t think that the Japanese would ever do such a thing; and it is precisely this

mentality that I think will surprise many when the next major terrorist attack to hit is orchestrated by a Filipino per se. A deeper focus needs to preside over the southern Philippines. It is my conclusion that this region presents the greatest danger in the face of terrorism because of the factors mentioned previously. Southeast Asia has become a haven for these terrorists (due to scattered borders and loose immigration policy). Terrorism has put on a different face, that of militant Islamic Filipinos. The southern Philippines hold a special position in the future. I would argue that it is the southern region that is the most valuable to Al-Qa’ida; therefore, the political decisions between the government of the Philippines and the militant Islamic groups are imperative. They