Some five months after Philippine troops flushed out Islamic State-aligned militants in the southern city of Marawi, recent military-militant clashes show the Islamic State's local affiliates have regrouped and spread since last year's siege, still gaining recruits and threatening once again to become a rallying point for jihadists across the region. But the persistent regional threat has spurred ASEAN countries towards greater security cooperation.
"This nation [Muslims] should know that it was [...] created to spread Allah's religion and lead the nations, and this could only be achieved by Jihad for the sake of Allah!"
These words were not said somewhere in the war ravaged Middle East by a supporter of ISIS or other extremist groups. They were not whispered in a dark room, hidden from public sight. This call for holy war, or jihad, was voiced loud and clear to a large crowd in a Sydney mosque just a few months ago.
AIJAC's Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein responds to the vicious campaign waged against Middle East expert Dr. Daniel Pipes, during his recent speaking tour of Australia as a guest of AIJAC.
Israel has long had deep links with some ASEAN member-states, while its relationship with others are more fragile or less developed.
A small contingent of Israeli officials attended a conference in Malaysia, which has long retained a stiff anti-Israel posture. Post-visit, the Israelis spoke positively of the experience, with hopes for a thaw in relations; the Malaysians, not so much.
On January 19, the Pentagon released its new National Defence Strategy for the US. The second paragraph of the 14-page declassified summary painted a dire picture. "We are facing increased global disorder, characterised by decline in the long-standing rules-based international order - creating a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory. Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in US national security."
THERE is a group that was described by a senior US security official 15 years ago as the "A-Team of terrorists" and has only gone from strength to strength in the years since then. This group perpetrates violent acts against civilians, calls for mass murder and, by its own admission, doesn't differentiate between its political and military arms.
Yet Australians are effectively free to fly this group's flag, fill its coffers and offer it material support, even as its operatives undertake terrorist activities in our region.
With Malaysia's next national election due to be held by August this year, voters will have their say on a government that over the past five years has been wracked with financial scandals, a crackdown on dissent, the jailing of the popular opposition leader, and religious bigotry fed by Islamic hardliners, not to mention a leader - a scion of the establishment - accused of massive corruption.