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Part1 Analysis and Trends

Part 2 Common Modus Operandi

Part 3 Responses to Terror attacks

Part 4 Resources

Sources on Readings

Background Reports and References

List of media to monitor

List of think tanks to monitor

Part1 Analysis and Trends

Top Trends on Terrorism by Analysts

1. The most serious threat in the region emanates from a group which calls itself the Islamic
State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). While threats from groups like Al Qaeda (AQ) and the Jemaah
Islamiyah (JI) remain, it is the ISIS threat, which has shaped the security landscape in
Southeast Asia for the last few years. As ISIS loses ground in Syria and Iraq, there may be an
increased flow of returning fighters to Southeast Asia.
Setbacks in Syria and Iraq have prompted ISIS to carry out attacks in countries of the
anti-ISIS coalition. ISIS has also encouraged its supporters to carry out attacks in their
home countries. Such attacks have been seen in Europe, North America, South Asia, and
Southeast Asia.
Returning fighters are likely to be more skilled in attack tactics, more ideologically
motivated, and able to access wider terror networks and links formed in Syria and
ISIS has been linked to several attacks across Southeast Asia. These include the first ISIS-
claimed attack in a suicide-bombing-cum-shooting in Jakarta, Indonesia in January 2016,
and the grenade attack carried out on a nightspot in Puchong, on the outskirts of Kuala
Lumpur, Malaysia in June 2016. The Puchong attack was at the behest of Syria-based
Malaysian ISIS militant Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi (Wanndy).[1]

2. Released terrorist prisoners in Southeast Asian are a concern because they may return to
terrorism if they have not been de-radicalised.
Around 200 terrorist prisoners in the region will be released from prison over the next
two years.

3. ISIS has featured the southern Philippines prominently in its propaganda material.
In January 2016, the ISIS leadership in Syria said that the leader of this group, Isnilon
Hapilon, was the "overall emir in the Philippines".
In recent times, there are indications that the group is seeking to expand its operations
beyond its strongholds in southern Philippines.
In June 2016, an ISIS video encouraged Southeast Asian militants to fight in southern
Philippines if they could not travel to Syria. Some have responded to this call.
In January 2017, Malaysian authorities disrupted a militant cell, which was facilitating
travel to the southern Philippines.
In March 2017, Indonesian authorities arrested a number of pro-ISIS militants who had
received military training in the southern Philippines.

4. A group in southern Philippines calling itself IS East Asia claims to be the de facto ISIS group
in this region. The group is said to be responsible for the recent siege of Marawi City.
The group has the potential to turn Mindanao into an ISIS wilayat (province) for
Southeast Asian militants.
Should this entity proliferate into a regional network, like the JI had done previously, the
terrorism threat will deepen further in Southeast Asia.

5. Both Indonesian and Philippine authorities have put pressure on pro-ISIS militants in Poso
and the southern Philippines, with some key leaders killed or injured. Nevertheless, the
threat continues to increase.
In Indonesia, militants from the pro-ISIS umbrella group Jamaah Anshorut Daulah (JAD)
had previously used low explosive devices in attacks in 2016, but have recently begun
to assemble homemade bombs using high explosive materials.
JI has also been building up its capabilities by conducting militant training and
attempting to acquire weapons.
In August 2016, the Indonesian authorities foiled a plot by Batam-based terrorists who
were acting on the instructions of Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian ISIS militant based in
Syria. The group, called Katibah Gonggong Rebus, had planned to launch a rocket attack
against the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) integrated resort. They had considered using a hill
or an outer island of Batam as a launch point, and were arrested by Indonesian
authorities before they could do so.

6. Singapore is a key target of terror attacks.

Singapore has taken part in international coalitions against terrorism, and represent
many things that are anathema to ISIS such as secular democracy.
Singapore is host to many economic and commercial interests belonging to Western
nations that ISIS considers as "infidels".
ISIS had plotted to carry out two attacks against Singapore that Singapore authorities
are aware of. Last year, reliable information indicated that foreign ISIS militants were
considering carrying out an attack in Singapore in the first half of 2016.
An Arabic publication, "The Fall of the Idol: External Action and Individual Jihad" was
circulated online around October 2016. It named two entities in Singapore as potential
targets in its bid to bring down US and Western interests.
An ISIS publication released in September 2015 named Singapore (among other
countries) as a member of the "crusader coalition" which ISIS was fighting against.
A May 2016 ISIS video named Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the
Philippines as countries infiltrated by "disbelievers" and threatened action against the
"tyrants" of these countries.

Top Trends reported in Media

1. IS recruits in SE Asia a rising threat despite weak attacks

2. AP Exclusive: Facebook broke Indonesia terror case

3. 2 Rohingya leaders go shopping for terror in Indonesia
Common Modus Operandi

1. On 13 November 2015 a series of attacks took place in Paris that included a football
stadium, a theatre, two cafes and two restaurants. The attacks were designed to kill and
injure as many civilians as possible. The attacks are significant:
The attacks resembled the 2008 Mumbai attack in terms of modus operandi, targets
chosen, numbers of attackers and impact.
There were three groups of attackers: those born in France, those raised in France and
returnee foreign fighters.

2. The Mumbai style of attack done in Europe is a first for IS. The Paris attacks appear to be
part of a broader strategy of IS going global, and specifically attacking France, but also more
EU member states in the near future.
In combination with the 31st October 2015 bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt, also
claimed by IS, and other attacks in Suru and Ankara (Turkey), Beirut and Baghdad,
This idea is reinforced by the fact that there have been strong indications of another
series of attacks by IS that were planned to take place somewhere in the EU but most
likely in France or in Belgium, that were however foiled through police activities
following the Paris attacks.

3. Intelligence suggests that IS has developed an external actions command trained for special
forces style operations abroad, to include the EU and France in particular.
Terrorist cells ready to perpetrate a terrorist attack are largely domestic and/or locally
based. Members could have been trained in Syria, as was the case in the November
Paris attacks, but that is not imperative.
Before the November Paris attacks, the main threat of IS to EU came from locally
radicalised individuals, despite the fact that a number of foreign fighters had returned
from the conflict areas in Syria and Iraq.

Terrorist Profile

1. There are reports that indicate Islamic extremist recruiters specifically target refugee
centers in Europe.
There is no concrete evidence that terrorist travelers systematically use the flow of
refugees to enter Europe.
An increasing phenomenon is that of Islamist brotherhood gatherings, analogous to
other faction camps that have existed for decades with other religious movements. This
is a relatively new concept for Muslims, which first surfaced only a couple of years ago.

2. Training
Apart from training facilities in Syria, there exist also smaller scale training camps in EU
and in Balkan countries.
IS training of recruits consists of weapon use, explosives and specific killing techniques,
which include beheading. Operatives are also trained in clandestine actions and
Survival training enables IS recruiters to test fitness and determination of aspiring IS
members. The nature and structure of the training enables IS operatives to be
emotionally detached, as demonstrated in the Paris 2015 attack.
There is no conclusive evidence of drugs use playing a role in reaching such a mental
state of acceptance of death.
Sports activities have been used for combat and interrogation resistance training.

3. Information on foreigners joining the ranks of IS suggests that recruitment can take place
very quickly, without a long radicalisation process.
Age plays a role: younger people are found to be more impressionable and radicalise
quicker than older candidates.
Important elements in recruitment and the development of group structures are social
bonds (common background, ethnic and geographical commonalities and language)
which need not be exclusively religious.
Less than half of all persons arrested for joining IS or expressing/displaying and intention
to do so have relevant knowledge about their religion and are thus vulnerable to
interpretations of the Koran that fit IS logic.
In view of this shift away from the religious component in the radicalisation of,
especially, young recruits, it may be more accurate to speak of a violent extremist social
trend rather than using the term radicalisation.

4. A significant proportion of foreign fighters (20% accdg to one source) have been diagnosed
with mental problems prior to joining IS.
A large proportion of recruits (estimates are as high as 80 per cent) have criminal
records varying from petty crimes to more serious offences. Rates and types of offences
seem to differ between EU countries.
It may be that recruiters specifically target criminals with an inclination for violence, or
that some criminals find that, in joining IS, it provides the opportunity to give free rein
to their violent impulses.
Potential suicide bombers are indistinguishable among potential foreign fighters. They
do not share common characteristics other than a certain vulnerability, picked-up by
recruiters, to be used as such. Suicide bombers used to make wills and write
testimonies, which have now become rare. This could be from realising that such actions
could be used as indicators and even evidence in investigations.
The mind-sets of suicide bombers, either before or after being selected as such, used to
be geared towards dying as martyrs. Currently they are believed to primarily be willing
to die as heroes.

5. The internet and social media are used for communication and the acquisition of goods
(weapons, fake IDs) and services, made relatively safe for terrorists with the availability of
secure and inherently encrypted applications (WhatsApp, Skype and Viber.
In Facebook, VKA and Twitter they join closed and hidden groups that can be accessed
by invitation only, and use coded language.
Use is also made of anonymising tools, such as ToR (The Onion Router) networks and
VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). The use of encryption and anonymising tools prevent
conventional observation by security authorities.
There is evidence of a level of technical knowledge available to religiously inspired
terrorist groups, allowing them to make their use of the internet and social media
invisible to intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

For more information on Target Selection and Financing, see the report by Europol entitled,
Emerging Terrorist Financing Risks.

Responses to Terror Attacks

6. The possible shift in strategy of IS led Europol to organise a meeting with members of the
First Response Network (FRN)2 of Member States that are currently believed to run an
elevated risk of being targeted by IS, to discuss changes in this modus operandi. This
meeting took place at Europol on 30 November and 1 December 2015. Although the
meeting was triggered by the recent IS attacks, discussions covered the threat of all
religiously inspired terrorism. Al-Qaeda continues to threaten western countries, and may
even be triggered to put words into action by competing with IS, an organisation that is now
attacking targets that were previously considered to be out of their reach3.


List of think tanks to monitor

1. Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict in Jakarta, Indonesia
2. Centre for Strategic and International Studies
3. International Crisis Group
4. Global Experts
5. International Center for the Study of Radicalization

List of media to monitor