Wednesday, July 06, 2016

#DhakaAttack: The Growth of Daesh in Asia, In Context

Disenchantment with insular, self-serving local regimes are fostering footholds in South and Southeast Asia, with social media as a prime conduit:

Tom Hussain, Al Jazeera, with more on the foothold in Bangladesh:
Since 2014 ... Bangladesh has steadily descended into a cycle of polarising politics, pitting the avowedly secular nationalist government ... against the country's religious establishment... Sheikh Hasina has pursued the prosecution of leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami, the country's biggest religious party, for their alleged involvement in massacres of at least 300,000 civilians during the 1971 war of independence with Pakistan... Parallel to the war crimes trials, there has been a steady stream of murderous attacks by terrorists on prominent secular activists, foreign NGO workers and members of religious minorities.  Some were claimed by militants claiming to be part of the Islamic State ... while the responsibility for others has been assumed...affiliates of al-Qaeda.
On each occasion, however, the Bangladesh government has refused to accept that either of the global jihadi conglomerates were involved. Instead, the attacks have been dismissed by officials as the handiwork of local militants, painted as allies of the opposition amid plans to outlaw the Jamaat-e-Islami altogether... 
Either way, Bangladesh's government has been creating a political vacuum at the same time as ISIL has reached out to struggling jihadi factions across South and Southeast Asia.

Samira Shackle, The Independent, looks at recruitment in Pakistan:
I recently spent several weeks in Pakistan researching the nascent signs of Isis support. I found that while there is no major fighting force present (like Bangladesh, the country is already home to a crowded militant landscape), there were pockets of support, mostly among the middle or upper middle classes. 
These were educated people – university students and professionals – who did not fit the typical profile of an illiterate, desperate militant. A senior counterterrorism official told me that Isis’ strategy in Pakistan was to “target the intelligentsia”. The attackers in Dhaka appeared to fit this profile too; they were educated and drawn from affluent segments of society. 
What this illustrates is that Isis is a global movement with significant regional variations. There are commonalities – many of these urban militants or would-be militants in Pakistan and Bangladesh have been radicalised online, in the same way that young people in the west might, or at least have used their access to the internet to forge links overseas, bypassing more established local militant networks.

Rajnish Sharma on growth in the Maldives:
“ISIS has been successfully using the Internet and social media in influencing youth in the island nation and is determined to expand its network further,” the report states and adds that in Bangladesh rather than ISIS it is the Jamaeytul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) which is increasing its influence. 
The intelligence inputs are in line with the investigations carried out by security agencies in Bangladesh, which indicate that the recent terror attack at an upmarket restaurant in Dhaka may actually have been carried out by the JMB and not the ISIS, though the latter claimed credit for it in an effort to increase its footprint in the region. 
“The local security agencies in Maldives are fully aware of the issue and have been taking corrective steps regarding the increasing influence and attempts being made by ISIS in the island country. But since the development is happening virtually in India’s own backyard, it means that our security agencies need to be extremely careful about it,” a senior intelligence official said.

Finally, the Straits Times on propaganda aimed square at the heart of Southeast Asia:
He expresses gratitude to Allah for "easing our journey and jihad" and for appointing them as "soldiers of Tawhid (The Oneness of God)". 
He called out to the authorities of the nusantara (archipelago) - especially in Malaysia and Indonesia. 
"Know this ... we are no longer your citizens, and have liberated ourselves from you," he said as the camera panned to show a goateed man nearby holding another Malaysian passport.

"With His permission and His assistance, we will come to you with a military force that you cannot overcome.
"This is Allah's promise to us," he said.

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