MILITANTS of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are said to be eyeing South East Asia to consolidate its presence in the region as it loses control over occupied Middle Eastern territories.
Experts have warned that they are looking into the region to perpetuate its claims to a establish a caliphate.
According to The Straits Times of Singapore, counter-terrorism analysts said the region’s long history of militancy and rising number of extremist groups adopting ISIS ideology make it attractive to the Sunni extremist network.
An article in the paper pointed out Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore as potential targets, where the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) and Jemaah Anshar Khilafah terror networks, as well as the Abu Sayyaf, operate.
Patrick Skinner from New York-based security consultancy The Soufan Group (TSG) said: “These are existing sanctuaries that the Islamic State would love to plug in,”
“There is no such thing as a clandestine caliphate, they need sanctuary, they need a place for these people to go to, where they can say: This is where our flag is,” he was quoted saying.
Skinner said this when testifying at the US House Committee on Homeland Security about the terrorism threat in the region.
In a recent TSG report, the former case officer with the Central Intelligence Agency wrote what ISIS was likely to establish a South-east Asian wiliyah (state) as its control in Syria and Iraq weakened.
He added that the terrorist group was also facing problems remaining and expanding in Libya, and places such as the southern Philippines would be its next priority.
In the Straits Times report, analysts from the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) also confirmed that ISIS has started a campaign to establish an Islamic caliphate across Asia.