Three individuals are currently under arrest in Malaysia for their alleged involvement in terrorist recruitment. Two of the individuals were charged with planning acts of terrorism that would have affected Syria. One of the suspects, Yazid Sufaat, was previously a high-profile individual arrested for his purported involvement in chemical and biological weapons testing and his alleged assistance to al-Qaeda prior to 9/11. This latest incident is a reminder that terrorism is not strictly relegated to the Middle East. It is a global phenomenon still quite alive in Asia.
This year’s Global Terrorism Index (GTI) revealed that five out of the top 10 nations afflicted by terrorism are in Asia. Topping the list are—predictably—Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, followed by India at number four, Thailand at number eight, and the Philippines at number 10. The Institute for Economics and Peace, the organization that produces the GTI, quantifies their results by measuring the number of incidents, fatalities, injuries, and property damage occurring within each nation. The results reveal a deep need for continued attention toward addressing the terrorism threat in Asia.
Post-9/11, the U.S. placed troops in the Philippines in an effort to support the Filipino government in its fight against terrorism. Due to the U.S.–Philippines partnership, there are only a few hundred terrorists left in the region.
U.S. collaboration with Thailand has also been effective. As Heritage’s Walter Lohman notes:
[S]ince 9/11, the two allies have cooperated extensively on counterterrorism and intelligence, creating the joint U.S.–Thai Counter Terrorism Intelligence Center (CTIC), a venue for U.S. and Thai intelligence officials to work closely together. The CTIC has led to high-profile arrests, such as key Jemaah Islamiyah operative Hambali.
The U.S. has also helped Indonesia, which despite the country’s widely recognized success in battling terrorists, is still dealing with the constantly changing threat. And it has collaborated closely with Malaysia and Singapore.
Despite the successes, the terrorist threat in Asia is by no means squelched. As the U.S. considers pulling 34,000 troops out of Afghanistan, it should take note of the number of Asian nations that still face major terror threats in 2013. The war on terror is far from over, and the U.S. would do well to continue its active support of friends and allies in Asia as they continue the fight.