This report says that Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, stated that the Islamic State is winning the hearts and minds of young Muslims all over Asia, “thanks to their slick propaganda films and robust social-media campaigns, as ‘opposed to the boring lectures delivered by al-Qaeda and Taliban ideologues.’”
It’s certainly true that the Islamic State is attracting support from Muslims outside its domains at a much higher rate than al-Qaeda and the Taliban ever did, but this is not because of their slick videos. How many slick videos would it take to convince you to travel into a war zone to wage jihad? The Islamic State is attracting young Muslims from Asia and the West because of its claim to restore the caliphate, an aspiration dear to the heart of many Muslims the world over.
Rohan Gunaratna is a quintessential mainstream analyst of terrorism, as he knows nothing whatsoever about Islamic jihad, and so has to cast about for explanations of jihadists’ activities that have nothing to do with Islam.
(In British PC-speak, “Asian” means Muslim, but in this article, the word is used actually to refer to people from Asia.)
“1,000 Asian Extremists Are Waging Jihad in the Middle East, Says the Pentagon,” by David Stout, Time, September 25, 2014:
The U.S. military believes at least 1,000 jihadist fighters have been inspired to leave their homes in Asia to fight with militant groups across the battlefields of Iraq and Syria.
“Our estimations today is there’s probably been about 1,000 potential aspiring fighters that have moved from this region, based on kind of our overall assessment,” Admiral Samuel Locklear, the U.S. Pacific Command commander, told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday.
“That number could get larger as we go forward, but certainly that’s about the size or the magnitude that we perceive at this point in time.”
The Asia-Pacific is currently home to myriad homegrown jihadist networks, from restive enclaves in the Philippines and Indonesia to the rough tribal highlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Authorities in the region have long grappled with combating Muslim extremists, who travel abroad to participate in Islamist terrorist networks, only to return and wreak havoc on the home front later.
During the Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, an estimated 800 fighters from across Southeast Asia and Australia joined the mujahedin’s ranks battling the Red Army.
The militants who survived and returned to their respective countries went on to form the core of several Islamist extremist terrorists groups that orchestrated attacks across the region, including the bombing of nightclubs in Bali in 2002 and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta two years later….
“All these attacks, the masterminds were Afghan veterans,” Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, tells TIME.
Experts fear that the new battlegrounds in the Middle East will provide the latest and larger crop of jihadists from the Asia-Pacific with the operational knowledge and connections to conduct larger attacks at home in the future.
“They will come back with motivation, ideology and skills and operational knowledge,” says Gunaratna. “They will know who should they contact in order to plan and execute an operation.”
And according to Gunaratna, the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) appears to be winning the hearts and minds of aspiring jihadists across the continent, thanks to their slick propaganda films and robust social-media campaigns, as “opposed to the boring lectures delivered by al-Qaeda and Taliban ideologues.”
“It’s a new level of strategic communication that is being started by ISIS,” says Gunaratna….