ISIS in Southeast Asia

By Scott Morgan

By all accounts the Islamic State is on the run and seeking a new location for a base of operations. It is just a matter of time before Mosul is totally liberated in Iraq. Also on June 6th, of this year, the operation to liberate the Syrian City and De Facto capital Raqqa has begun.

What does this mean exactly? On the surface this means the group will be searching for either a failed, or failing, state or an area with a substantial Muslim population which is also a vast ungoverned space that they can move into and exploit. There are several areas in the world that fit this criteria.

One in particular has exploded in recent weeks. Once again there appears to be playbook that is being used: an operation by Government Forces against a local movement goes wrong for the Security Forces, then the insurgents recruit other allies and launch a bloody counteroffensive that brings in Foreign Fighters. This scenario played out in Mali and in the Central African Republic. This time it’s happening in Southeast Asia.

Over the last couple of weeks, fighting has raged on the island of Mindanao, in the southern Philippines. There has been a decade long insurgency by Muslim Insurgents on the island against the Government in Manila. Previous attempts to negotiate a ceasefire have come and gone throughout history and since the attacks on 9/11 various terror groups have sought to use the island as a base of operations against western targets.

Why should we be concerned? There is one major reason for this: it has been reported by the Philippine Military that some of the insurgent fighters (that have been killed during the fighting) are indeed foreign fighters. The question then becomes where did they come from? The generated answers may convince one that this conflict is not just an internal conflict within the Philippines but a regional one.

The Philippines are not the only country in Southeast Asia that has issues with a radical insurgency. Indonesia and even Malaysia have been targets of Suicide Bombings and other attacks over the last few years. Is it really that much of a stretch of the imagination to learn that both countries are joining with their counterparts from the Philippines to conduct patrols to deal with those moving between their countries and promoting a radical ideology? The current battle has proved to the strategists that this idea is indeed very necessary to preserve the security of their countries.

However, there is a flaw. There is another country facing its own internal issues with those who promote these extremist ideals and that should be part of these patrols but currently is not: Thailand. Why they are not part of this yet could have an easy answer, for example, such as lack of adequate resources or the failure of an interested third party which has had in the past a modicum of success in dealing with these extremists. So, is it just a matter of time before these three states reach out to either Australia or the United States, for assistance?

We know that this is not the only location where IS seeks to set up a new base of operations but this area is not the one most strategists have been focusing on either. Their concerns are in Yemen, West Africa and in Central Asia. It is possible that this reaction is designed to keep the Intel specialists busy while they set up their new base of operations in another part of the world.

This is a very simple yet straightforward strategy that is being carried out….

(Image: ISIS' Global Ambitions - Rappler via Google Images)

[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society]


  1. One must also throw Libya into the mix. The civil war there gives uncertainty to future outcomes. The Libyan National army and the Toubou militias are already influenced by ISIS; and the Toubou militias plus the Tuareg militias plus the GNA Government of National Accord are influenced by Al Qaeda. What makes Libya a major prize for the victor is the oil riches beyond dreams that can fund world devastation for ages. The GNA Minister of Interior, Alaref al-Khoja, has requested Russian intervention and meetings have been held to further that eventuality. If Libya becomes a Russian propped-up state then Russia will have won yet again in its plans to dominate the divided Mediterranean and Middle East. America, having been stung, is not prepared to commit boots on the ground. Carnage is a high price for temporary peace. Only a Dominant order has some chance of success in containing Chaos. Though the tug-of-war rages on endlessly.

  2. Hi Morgan,

    I agree with Cheney. And his comment made me think that we need to somehow decrease the value of oil (and mind you, I am fully conscious of the shock waves it would produce) and focus more on other forms of energy.

    "Carnage is a high price for temporary peace."

    Right? Leaders should think about it.



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