ASEAN Speaks Out Against Threats Posed by the Islamic State
Oct. 2, 2014 (EIRNS)–Uncharacteristically, ASEAN, an association of ten southeast Asian nations, has issued a joint statement warning of the threat the Islamic State terrorist organization poses to global security. Three of these ten ASEAN members nations — Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia — are Muslim-majority nations.
Following an ASEAN-US ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly last week, Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein raised the prospect of a strike by Islamic State within Southeast Asia, and said its influence and the spread of its ideology had to be stopped. Another influential former Malysian premier and a statesman, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, pointing out that a call for an Islamic State could be “very tempting to Muslim youths anywhere,” told Malay Mail recently that there indeed exists the possibility that rebels from adjacent countries might try invading Malaysia for the purpose of forming an “Islamic State” inside the country. “If it crosses their mind to make Malaysia a part of the ‘Islamic State,’ would they not join in attacks launched from the outside by those calling for jihad to form an Islamic state in Malaysia?” Dr. Mahathir added.
No doubt, ASEAN should have reasons for such concerns. Philippine authorities are on alert for any attempt by IS militants to enter the country, after the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the country’s south threatened to kill two Germans it had taken hostage in retaliation for U.S.-led air strikes in Iraq and Syria. ASG, among other regional militant groups, including former Jemaah Islamiyah leaders, has sworn allegiance to IS.
The group has also issued threats to kill Pope Francis, leader of the Catholic Church, raising further security concerns for his planned trip to the Philippines in January. The latest threats came after reports of recently formed Islamic terrorist groups in Malaysia. The country’s eastern state of Sabah, and its proximity to the civil wars in the Southern Philippines, has proven to be particularly vulnerable to attacks. Authorities fear that up to 200 Indonesians and at least 30 Malaysians, including women, have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight with IS.