Southeast Asian Islamist terrorism (SAIT)


Conflict Summary

Jemaah Islamiah (JI) is a secretive Islamic organisation that has been the foremost terrorist group in Southeast Asia since it became active in 1995. The group’s primary objective is to establish a pan-Islamic state in the region, with the rights and duties of its population defined and governed by Sharia Law. Its doctrine is fervently anti-Christian and anti-Western. There is ample evidence that JI has links with various radical Islamic groups around the world, including al-Qaeda. JI’s identity and purpose are however specific to Southeast Asia. Nevertheless, the level of collaboration between these actors and JI has helped to obscure the latter’s involvement in a number of attacks that had previously been ascribed to other organisations. Investigation into the activities of JI, therefore, continues to be difficult. There is also evidence to suggest that JI may be forging links with rebel groups or insurgents in Indonesia's restive provinces. In March 2005, reports surfaced that JI rebels were found in Timor Leste. Reports have also suggested that JI has increased training activities with Philippines-based Muslim insurgent groups, such as the Abu Sayyaf Group. JI favours spectacular, well-coordinated attacks, such as the 24 December 2000 bombings, which saw simultaneous assaults on targets in 11 different Indonesian cities. The group was also responsible for the three Bali bombings on 12 October 2002, in which over 200 people were killed. In recent years, JI has carried out few attacks and has been the subject of security operations that have left a number of its leaders dead or imprisoned. Consequently, analysts have noted the potential for new terrorist organisations to emerge in the region. The 2008 formation of Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT) has been viewed as one such development.