Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Anti-terrorism experts from Malaysia and Indonesia have reported that several Malaysians and Indonesians have recently joined the Islamic State terror group (formerly known as ISIS), which is active in Iraq and Syria, and are apparently planning attacks and violence in their countries of origin.
The fascination exerted by former al Qaeda militants, who were able to seize more land in Iraq and carry out brutal violence against minorities, has spread to several countries in South-East Asia.
As AsiaNews reported recently, fundamentalist movements and local Muslim leaders have found inspiration in the exploits of the Sunni fighters and intend to support the struggle for the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate.
Anti-terrorism agencies in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta warn that Asian followers of the Islamic State want to overthrow local legitimate governments because the constitutions of the two states are secular in nature. They also want to impose Sharia, the Islamic law, and enforce a rigid and fundamentalist version of Islam.
According to local political analysts and experts, terrorist threats in Southeast Asia have increased. In Malaysia, the authorities have arrested at least 19 suspects for links with extremist groups in the past seven months.
Interrogations have revealed plans to attack government targets, nightclubs, bars and other entertainment venues. At the same time, at least 20 Malaysian nationals have travelled to Syria to fight in the ranks of the Islamic State, but the actual number could be much higher.
For its part, Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, has banned supporting the extremist movement, and made numerous arrests. However, dangers persist, the more so since some senior officials, including a minister, have shown little interest in prevention and repression.
After Malaysia and Indonesia, the first attempts to join the ranks of the Islamic state have been reported in the Philippines.