HANOI, Jan 10 — Terrorist threats in South-east Asian countries declined in 2021, a Singapore think-tank said in its annual threat assessment published last week.
There were fewer terror-related incidents in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines as governments battled Covid-19, Vietnam news agency quoting the Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis report published by researchers at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
In Thailand in 2021, meanwhile, violent incidents connected to an insurgency in the far south were similar to those in the previous year, the researchers found.
In Indonesia, South-east Asia’s largest country, the number of attacks and plots by violent extremist Islamic militant groups dipped during the past two years compared with before the outbreak of Covid-19, the report said.
Jamaah Ansharut Daulah’s (JAD) relatively stagnant activities in 2020 to 2021 and the decline of Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen’s (MIT) terror activities in 2021, it said, “can be partly attributed to movement restrictions and higher costs associated with domestic travels due to the pandemic.”
In 2021, JAD was involved in at least nine incidents, including five using explosive materials. Those included two suicide bomb attacks and a suicide bomb plot, compared with 11 incidents the previous year.
The report specifically linked the Covid-19 pandemic to the drop in terror activities in Malaysia last year.
Authorities made no terror-related arrests in Peninsular Malaysia last year, but made about 15 in Sabah between May and September, it said. There were seven arrests in 2020; 72 in 2019; 85 in 2018; 106 in 2017 and 119 in 2016, the analysis found.
According to VNA, the report however, still expressed concern that terror threats had moved online.
“The government-imposed lockdowns have forced people to spend more time online, raising the likelihood of vulnerable individuals being exposed to radical ideologies in the cyber domain. Around the region, groups such as IS have increased their recruitment and radicalisation efforts through social media during the pandemic,” it said.
Elsewhere, the armed forces of the Philippines drew praise for retaking terror bases in the southern region of Mindanao.
Nationwide, “the number of successful terrorist incidents dropped from 134 in 2019, to 59 incidents in 2020 and 17 in 2021,” the analysts said, defining a successful incident as an attack that injured or killed others. — Bernama