Someone needs to ask, what single variable, or direct chain of causality, influences a man who has left his miserable life to migrate to a society far more materially and functionally advanced than his, only to throw an opportunity away that millions cherish by attempting mass murder? A recent attack in New York demonstrates that the radicalisation rot has spread to the South Asian diaspora, and therefore Asia and will be the next battle ground for jihadism.
In this attack in the United States a 27 year old Bangladeshi man from Brooklyn, who has been living in the US for seven years, was named by the police as Akayed Ullah. He had a five inch metal pipe bomb in his possession, which he intended to explode in Manhattan, but it failed to detonate. The police caught this incompetent Jihadi fairly quickly. He gave a rambling explanation that he had been radicalized by Trump, by Israel and Christmas posters. These explanations are gibberish, and decidedly post-facto. This guy was simply a mass murderer in the making who failed. His family meanwhile, who probably knew about the radicalisation, stated that they were outraged at the overreaction of the law enforcement officers. They also hinted at a different truth, and said that justice must be done and truth must come out. The statement has been criticized as conspiratorial.
Such families are often complicit, as repeated ISIS case studies demonstrate. This attack came after near daily attacks and failed attacks in Europe, especially on Jewish synagogues in Germany and Sweden, two countries which have taken the greatest number of migrants.
ISIS is destroyed, and has ceased to exist as a state. That doesn’t mean however the threat is gone or diminished. A huge number of ISIS fighters are from South Asia and South East Asia, from where attacks are most likely to soon come. Although none of these Asian countries has ever intervened in the Middle East, nevertheless they still suffer from Jihadism, because a percentage of their population wants to establish a Caliphate.
Consider Singapore. Singapore intelligence and police are reportedly on edge with the chance of an attack increasing day by day. Singapore has been long considered a global financial hub, with strategic ties with Western countries as well as close financial relations with UK, US, India and China. It is also a major port, and a major anti-terrorism partner of the West. In ‘tech speak’, therefore the chance of an attack on Singapore is only a matter of time as many disgruntled and self-radicalised Singaporean Muslims living there, constituting around 14% of the total population.
Next is the Philippines, where there is still a continuous battle going on threatening to spill over to its neighbours. ISIS has established a small caliphate there, the previous emir having being killed. President Duterte recently stated that the battle of Marawi isn’t over and named a Southeast Asian ‘wilayat’ or ISIS elect militant Abu Turaifie as the next “Emir”. The previous “Emir” Isnilon Hapilon, and other rebel commanders having being killed in October. Duterte has long warned and proven to be right about Mindanao province and Islamic State, saying that Muslim parts of the predominantly Catholic southern Philippines are fertile grounds for radicalisation.
In neighbouring Bangladesh, thousands of Rohingya refugees are ready targets for radicalisation, as are those in Indonesia. Thousands of people from Malaysia and Indonesia went to fight in ISIS, and while the majority of them were killed, many have simply disappeared. South Asian countries do not have sufficiently well trained intelligence agencies to keep track of those jihadists who have returned, and that poses a threat to all countries in the area.
This provides a sample of things to come. As I pointed out in my last blog Europe is already suffering from the effects of long term terrorism, and as a result have over the last twenty years developed mechanisms to deal with the threat, even though liberal rehabilitation policies have proved to be a failure. But in Asia only the great powers have faced such threats, not the smaller countries, who in consequence are not prepared for the inevitable eventuality of Islamic jihadism. And due to the Asian diaspora across the West, the chances of a spill over on our streets is very real.