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Why and How Did Al-Qaeda Come to Gain Support Among Islamic Militants in Southeast Asia?

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Why and how did al-Qaeda come to gain support among Islamic militants in Southeast Asia? How can Australia redress this situation?

In an attempt to discuss the reasons how and why did al-Qaeda gained support among Islamic militants in south East Asia and how can Australia redress this situation it must be kept in mind that the attempt is phased in two parts. First is the socio- political and historical analysis of the question of al-Qaeda gaining support among Islamist militants in south East Asia and the second is the strategic evaluation of how Australia can redress this situation. In this essay an attempt has been made to place both the phases in a systematic context and analyz (Rashid)e the question as a whole.

Firstly, to speak of the question of al-Qaeda gaining support among the Islamist militants in south East Asia, we must first question the very roots of the rise of Islamist militancy and what is the role of Islam as a whole in this unfortunate matrix. The demographic establishment of Islam in south East Asia is in the varied range from about five percent in the Philippines to about eighty five percent in Indonesia. People in this region are mainly very progressive and secular in nature but in the last three decades or so this region has seen a rise in radical Islam and Islamist Militancy. This is mainly due the undelivered promises of economic system, the loss of political freedom, the spread of radical teachings etc... In any case, though a distinct minority, radical Islam has been able to restrict the secular spirit of Islam. These radical movements, though local in nature and aims, has increasingly taken a cross border dimension. In such a situation the role of al-Qaeda becomes increasingly a strategic option available for both the Islamist Militants in south East Asia and the Al Qaeda. Hence, it is required that we also trace the importance and the rise of al-Qaeda.

Al Qaida has not only become the new face but also the suggestive representation of the new terrorist threat. It has made its way worldwide by making available an over-enthusiastic ideology and functioning example with the administration model that other groups and individuals follow worldwide. The main influence for Al Qaida and familiar groups of this sort is the teachings of Ibn Taymiyya and Sayyid Qutb. Their beliefs and ideologies come in direct contrast with that of the Salafism that is generally found in countries like Saudi Arabia. The way these Muslim extremists thought and the way the thought was further formulated into acts of terrorism can be seen with the way their thoughts influenced strongly the followers. It was believed by them that the compulsory duties of all the Muslims are to include the jihad and this idea was adapted by Al Qaeda leading to a worldwide terrorism. Therefore the relationship between this area and al-Qaeda seemed equally profitable for both.

The reasons that promulgated such an approach are easily basic. First is the question of religion, that is, Islam in this Matrix. Jihad became a means to re establish God's dominion on Earth. The more these extremists' thinkers stressed on its existence, the more the people started adapting to and strongly believing in the false interpretation in the name of religion. As a result of this one saw how weapons had taken over the art of negotiation. The idea taken to the extreme thought is that the Muslim culture has been demolished by the Western existence and their continuous dominance in various fields has further humiliated the existence of a Muslim Culture in many parts of the world. Because of this, the spread of groups of Al Qaeda is becoming rapid and the acts of terrorism are becoming more violent because to uphold their beliefs, it is action they use not peaceful talking.

Secondly, the network of Islamist charities, dubious banks and economies that had a record of severe economic anomalies made the al-Qaeda consider this region as reserve for its back- office in terms of recruitment, forgery, weapons acquirement and economic transactions. There is evidence that Muslims from the entire world were recruited to fight with the Afgan Mujaheedin1. From our recent experience, one sentence is enough to sum up the concerns, "The FPI has held a jihad (Wicaksono, Bramantyo and Prasetya)

account filled by donors from all over Indonesia. Several Islamic businessmen

are also ready to give large sums of money to send forces to Afghanistan."2. The speaker, Habib Rizieq Shihab is the chairman of Defenders of Islam, responsible for recruiting people to fight in Iraq in early 2003. It is, therefore a closed amalgamation of need and providence working in a binary policy of self sufficiency.

Thirdly, there is the dimension of ideology. The relationship that al-Qaeda shares with the South East Asian nations is tied through the chains of historical and ideological links. When we look at it through the first aspect we see that the jihad movement of a global widespread had many of its key participants fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980's. The links then created were not broken and if we talk about it from a present day context we see it having grown even stronger. Now, this experience that was shared in Afghanistan brings together many individual terrorists, who; based on this experience share the second aspect of ideological links. Ideologically, the establishment of the terrorist networks share many beliefs that are as a result in common because of the causes, actions and the aftermath of the Afghan War. The network that is under discussion is therefore formed through the adaptation of all that was experienced in the war at that time.

South East Asia comes in regard when talking about the Al Qaida group because the influence of the group in South East Asia here are so strong that when in 2001 it was believed that the infrastructure inside Afghanistan for Al Qaida was destroyed, the South East Asian Islamic militants had imitated the ways in which Al Qaida functioned and even now follow what Al Qaida had asked to. Lashkar e- tayyiba was later formed similar to that of the Al Qaida. From here we see how Al Qaida,



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