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South-East Asia

The terrorist threat in South-East Asia remains elevated. South-East Asian ISIL affiliates continue to be influenced by ISIL’s ideology, narrative and global jihadist attack methodology. Despite the death of former ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and a number of significant disruptions, pro-ISIL groups and individuals in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have continued their campaigns of plots and attacks in support of ISIL and local extremist agendas.

Although ISIL continues to dominate the regional threat environment, al-Qa‘ida- aligned groups also continue to exist in South-East Asia, recruiting and training to prepare for possible future acts of violence.

Cross-border connections, both within the region and into international conflict zones, increase the risk of the transfer of skills, attack methodologies and ideological influence from transnational Islamic extremist groups. Despite COVID-19 restrictions largely constraining extremists’ movements, those in South-East Asia are increasingly collaborating and consuming ISIL propaganda online, as well as planning and conducting simple, often opportunistic, attacks primarily directed against local security forces and sectarian targets. Under ISIL’s influence, Islamic extremists are adapting their methods, with suicide bombings becoming more common in the southern Philippines.

Many South-East Asians who travelled in large numbers to join ISIL and al-Qa‘ida- aligned groups in Syria and Iraq returned early in the conflict with greater capability, ideological commitment and status.

The scheduled release of terrorist detainees in South-East Asia, many of whom probably maintain an extremist ideology, will also be detrimental to the security environment in the region.