The Road Less Traveled

Islamic Militancy in Southeast Asia

Author: Lily Zubaidah Rahim


In the wake of the 1997 regional economic crisis, but before 11 September 2001, many Southeast Asian governments were besieged by formidable challenges to their legitimacy. These challenges have been arguably mitigated by the political capital provided by the September 11 event as many regional governments have joined forces with the United States in its "war against terror." These governments have uncovered the existence of regional terrorist organizations, such as Jemaah Islamiah, with alleged links to the al-Qaida network. With the ostensible routing of the al-Qaida network in Afghanistan, Southeast Asia has been postulated as the new front line and base for Islamic militants. While international forces have undoubtedly contributed to the rise of political and militant Islam in Southeast Asia, this article will highlight the importance of localized sociopolitical and economic sources of Muslim grievance and the vexed issue of authoritarian governance. It is imperative that these issues be seriously addressed if the ideological appeal of radical and militant Islamists is to be effectively mitigated.
Regions: Central Asia
Countries: Afghanistan

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© E.D. Starin