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  • Author: C. Nna-Emeka Okereke, Syed Huzaifah Bin Othman Alkaff, Abdul Basit
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The continuing terrorist attacks in the West and different parts of Asia and Africa underscore the resilience, adaptability and regenerative nature of the prevailing global terrorist threat. With these attacks, the contours of the post-IS threat environment are now becoming increasing clear. It entails four major issues: a decentralised threat landscape, the challenge of returning foreign fighters from Iraq and Syria, the emergence of new IS hotspots in the Philippines, Afghanistan and parts of Africa, and cyber radicalisation. This requires continued vigilance, collaborative responses and sharing of best practices between security institutions and intelligentsia. In the context of continuing terrorist threat, the massacre of over 500 civilians in Eastern Ghouta in Syria by the Bashar Al-Assad regime is concerning for several reasons. The brutal use of violence will continue to fuel jihadist recruitment, strengthen the extremist narrative and create space for IS-linked and other militant groups to survive. Whether it is Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan, the absence of conflict stabilisation has undermined counter-terrorism efforts in these war-torn territories. The imagery of civilian killings in Ghouta plays right into the hands of groups like Al-Qaeda and IS as these groups continue to be the by-products of anarchy and lawlessness in active conflict zones. Against this backdrop, the first article by Abdul Basit explores the urban footprint of pro-IS jihadists in South Asia. The author observes that the dissemination of IS ideology of Jihadi-Takfiri-Salafism has galvanised a new generation of South Asia jihadists, which is narrowly sectarian, brutally violent and tech savvy. This pro-IS generation of jihadists uses various social media platforms for propaganda dissemination, recruitment and operational planning. In recent months, they have moved from open-end to encrypted social media applications. This development coupled with their segregated cell-formations makes their detection challenging. In conclusion, the author suggests that in addition to robust social media monitoring capabilities and operational preparedness, various South Asia governments would also require robust counter-ideological responses to overcome and neutralise IS appeal in this generation of South Asia jihadists. Highlighting the threat from social media, Syed Huzaifah Bin Othman Alkaff examines the trajectory of online radicalisation of a young Filipino girl, whose quest to atone herself from a ‘sinful’ past life exposed her to IS-recruiters online. The recruiters encouraged her to undertake the so-called ‘hijra’, after which she emerged as the head of IS’ female wing in Marawi (Mindanao, Phillipines). Syed highlights the need for a proactive approach by the governments and mainstream Islamic scholars to impart correct interpretations of key Islamic concepts such as jihad, caliphate, hijra and takfir to Muslim youth. It is argued that these efforts will circumvent the exploitation of these concepts by violent-extremist groups. Departing from the discussion on Islamist terrorist groups, this issue carries an article by C. Nna-Emeka Okereke focusing on the dynamics of the current indigenous Anglophone (English-speaking population) crisis in Cameroon and the escalating violence between the community in the northwest and southwest and the government. The Anglophone community is resentful towards what is perceived to be their marginalisation and the erosion of their unique identity as a result of various government actions relating to issues such as the creation of a centralised state from a two-state federation, and status of the English language. A segment of the Anglophone community has resorted to violence to address its grievances, conducting arson attacks and bombings targeting schools, government and security personnel. The instability has resulted in the displacement of thousands of refugees into Nigeria and poses security challenges to the country as it goes into the Presidential elections, and to the entire Lake Chad Basin.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Islamic State, Political stability, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, South Asia, Middle East, East Asia, Philippines, North Africa, Syria, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Rohan Gunaratna, Iftekharul Bashar, Syed Huzaifah Bin Othman Alkaff, Remy Mahzam, Nodirbek Soliev
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The global terrorism threat has become decentralised, unpredictable, hard-to-detect and resilient with regenerative capacities. The global jihadist movements, principally the so-called Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qaeda, have glocalised to exploit indigenous grievances, recruit aspiring jihadists and fight for local and global causes. Overall, both IS and Al-Qaeda have become underground terror networks which will allow them to sustain themselves for longer and perpetrate more violent attacks. With a radical Islamist jihadist ideology, multiple wilayat (provinces), sleeper cells, lone-wolves, online radicalisation and skilful exploitation of modern technologies, the terrorism threat remains challenging despite the successful expulsion of IS from its heartlands in Iraq and Syria in 2017. Moving forward, in 2018, the terrorist threat will be characterised by attacks mounted by politico-religious, ethnic-political and left/right wing groups. The major risk to the West, the Middle East, Africa and Asia will come from Islamist extremist groups with radicalised segments of migrant and diaspora communities perpetrating attacks in North America, Europe and Australia. Notwithstanding the operational and military setbacks IS and Al-Qaeda have suffered over the years, their affiliates in the global south will continue to mount attacks against military, diplomatic, political and economic targets. Despite security measures, threat groups will seek to hit aviation, maritime and land transportation targets. In addition, self-radicalised and directed attacks will focus on populated locations for large-scale impact, with suicide attacks as the preferred tactic. The favoured modus operandi of IS-inspired and directed jihadists in the West will be low-end terrorism relying on vehicle-ramming and stabbing as witnessed throughout 2017. Broadly, the world has witnessed the rise of three generations of global terrorist movements. ‘Global Jihad 1.0’ emerged after Al-Qaeda attacked the US in September 2001 and captured the imagination of multiple militant groups in Asia, Africa, Middle East and the Caucasus. The second generation, ‘Global Jihad 2.0’, emerged after al-Baghdadi declared a ‘caliphate’ and announced the formation of the ‘Islamic State’ (IS) on 29 June 2014. The third generation, ‘Global Jihad 3.0’, represents the global expansion of IS outside Iraq and Syria. IS now relies on its wilayat as its operational bases in the Middle East, Africa, Caucasus and Asia. IS and its affiliates control territorial space in varying degrees in countries with active conflict zones, and maintain a presence in cyber space. The group’s strength also lies in affiliated and linked groups, networks, cells and dedicated jihadists who are willing to fight and die for IS.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Homeland Security, Political stability, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Middle East, North Africa, Singapore, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Margareth Sembiring, Foo Yen Ne, Christopher Chen
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Since Southeast Asian leaders signed the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) in 2005, the region has prioritised developing national and regional disaster management capabilities to respond to disasters. However, the recent back-to-back disasters that occurred between July and August 2018 tested the response capacities of national governments and the humanitarian community. Parts of Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines battled floods of varying severity induced by seasonal monsoon rains, tropical storms and a dam collapse on a tributary of the Mekong River. Meanwhile, Indonesia’s Lombok Island, West Nusa Tenggara was hit by multiple earthquakes and aftershocks between 29 July and 19 August. The ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre) reported that at the peak of these disasters, over 588,000 people were displaced and more than 5.2 million people in Southeast Asia were affected. Against the backdrop recent disasters generating simultaneous responses, this NTS Insight makes key observations on Southeast Asia’s ability to meet the immediate needs of disaster-affected communities while building greater disaster resilience for the future. It assesses the (i) institutionalisation of disaster management in ASEAN; (ii) localisation of disaster response; and (iii) opportunities for financial risk management for building disaster-resilient communities.
  • Topic: Security, Disaster Relief, Humanitarian Aid, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia, Southeast Asia, Laos, Myanmar
  • Author: Foo Yen Ne
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Almost two decades since the adoption of the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, and specifically the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, the debates on addressing human trafficking have not veered far beyond questions of law enforcement efficacy. What makes law enforcement against human trafficking so challenging in the East Asia region? This NTS Insight examines the nature of international legal frameworks that address human trafficking and the way they influence regional and domestic anti-trafficking legislation in East Asia. It argues that human trafficking as a crime is often “hidden” from the one-size-fits-all anti-trafficking legal regime adopted in domestic or national settings. The report argues that drawing the crime of human trafficking out of the shadows is made difficult by (i) the ambiguous definition of human trafficking in international law; (ii) the disjuncture between human trafficking contexts in East Asia and what international anti-trafficking legal regimes seek to address.
  • Topic: Security, International Law, Women, Human Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Julius Caesar Trajano
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Despite the ratification of global and regional anti-trafficking frameworks and enactment of relevant national laws, human trafficking remains an endemic security problem in East Asia, threatening states and societies. Two-thirds or 25 million of global trafficking victims were identified to be in the region. This NTS Insight briefly reviews the current regional trends and patterns of human trafficking in East Asia. It demonstrates that robust legal frameworks, while absolutely important, are not sufficient to eradicate and prevent human trafficking. It primarily analyses three fundamental issues that impede effective law enforcement and the eradication of human trafficking in East Asia: (1) weak law enforcement capacity of states; (2) the persistent corruption-trafficking nexus; and (3) limited support services and protection assistance for victims. It highlights the importance of developing and adopting a victim-centered approach in order to make anti-trafficking efforts more holistic and effective.
  • Topic: Crime, Human Trafficking
  • Political Geography: East Asia, Asia
  • Author: Łukasz Ogrodnik, Marek Wasinski
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Austrian government is implementing its energy and climate strategy to 2030, the aim of which is to stimulate the economy and achieve energy independence through the use of clean technologies. The strategy signals potential points of contention with Poland, including in nuclear and coal energy. At the same time, it indicates potential fields of cooperation regarding low-emission transport.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Science and Technology, Renewable Energy, Carbon Emissions
  • Political Geography: Europe, Poland, Austria
  • Author: Marta Makowska, Melchior Szczepanik
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In the draft multiannual financial framework (MFF) 2021-2027, the European Commission (EC) proposed a political conditionality mechanism through which EU funds could be suspended for countries violating the rule of law. If implemented, it would grant the EC new powers to control the condition of the rule of law in Member States, but it is based on imprecise criteria. Even though the EC has declared that the mechanism is designed to discipline state institutions responsible for breaches, it could be damaging mainly to the final beneficiaries of the funds.
  • Topic: Sanctions, Budget, European Union, Rule of Law
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Patryk Kugiel
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The approaches of the EU and India to the connectivity between Asia and Europe largely converge. Both the Union and the country emphasize the importance of maintaining the highest international standards in infrastructure projects, share similar concerns regarding China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and implement their own ambitious transregional transport projects in their respective neighbourhood. Comprehensive cooperation on connectivity may become a key element of their strategic partnership, help promote regulatory standards, and boost economic cooperation. Better connectivity between Europe and India is also in Poland’s interest.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Trade, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, South Asia, India, Poland, European Union
  • Author: Marcela Szymanski, Małgorzata Pawłowska
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Despite the significant reduction of irregular migration to the European Union, the number of migrants arriving to Spain is increasing. In the national debate on this issue, the Socialist government of Pedro Sanchez faces growing criticism from both the right and the left. Maintaining the current course in migration policy will require intensifying cooperation with Spain’s European partners. The Spanish authorities will reinforce the pressure on them to increase EU financial support for southern European countries and to find a European solution to asylum.
  • Topic: Migration, Regional Cooperation, European Union, Asylum
  • Political Geography: Europe, Spain, North Africa
  • Author: Sebastian Płóciennik
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Negotiations on the creation of common bank deposit insurance for the EU have been underway for more than three years. The deadlock is mainly due to Germany’s reluctance, afraid of the creation of a new financial transfer mechanism at the expense of its own economy. An opportunity for compromise is the December Euro Summit. If an agreement is reached, it would mean the finalisation of the banking union—a key area for the future of the eurozone.
  • Topic: Finance, Economy, Regional Integration, Banks
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, European Union