Education About Asia: Online Archives

Terrorism in Southeast Asia: A Study Guide

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By Gerald L. Houseman

Terrorism in Southeast Asia is a topic that rapidly changes in dynamics, character, and factual base. Terrorist organizations and concerns, by their very nature, are shadowy, hidden, and certainly mysterious. Alliances and arrangements within their worlds are always shifting. Leaders come and go in quick succession because they are caught, killed, or replaced; and the strategies, tactics, and even the goals of such movements are never totally clear. This is demonstrated in Southeast Asia by the known existence of three overriding but often conflicting goals of the movements: (1) the setting up of theocratic Islamic states, (2) the establishment of units within larger states, such as the Philippines, that would supposedly support Islamic goals and needs to a greater extent than is now the case, and (3) the founding of a massive caliphate that would include all of present-day Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei, as well as Southern Thailand and the Southern Philippines.