A Jihad in Java? Daesh Now Threatens Southeast Asia

© AP Photo / Militant Website, FileFighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria
Fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria - Sputnik International
Singapore’s defense minister has warned that Daesh (ISIL/ISIS) poses a “clear and present danger” to Southeast Asia. In the past three years, the group has attracted more followers than al-Qaeda did in the ten years after 9/11.

Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen has warned that Daesh fighters pose a “clear and present danger to Southeast Asia as they return from Syria and Iraq with a mission to establish a caliphate.”

In the past three years, Daesh and its ideology have attracted more followers in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore than al-Qaida drew in the 10 years following the September 11 attacks in the US.

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Up to 150 Islamist fighters left predominantly Muslim Malaysia for Iraq and Syria, including some from the Malaysian armed forces.
Indonesia is the most populous predominantly Muslim country in the world; it has reported more than 500 Daesh fighters from among its population. A few have traveled from Singapore, Ng said at an event organized by the Washington-based think tank Center for a New American Security.

“The returned fighters have come back with allegiance to Daesh (ISIL/ISIS) and the mission to form an Islamic caliphate in our part of the world,” he added.

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“They have sympathizers; they have foreign fighters who are trained, who have the motivation, the means, and who have a common vision,” he said.

He stressed the importance of intelligence-sharing among countries in the region to address the threat, while expressing concern that followers of al-Qaida-linked groups in Southeast Asia who had pledged allegiance to Daesh would now link up.

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