What accounts for this extensive outbreak of misunderstanding of Islam? The significant support that the Islamic State enjoys in Southeast Asia demonstrates the falsity and fatuity of the mainstream Western narrative regarding Islam and jihad.
ISIS issued a rallying cry to the Muslims of Indonesia last week by sharing a disturbing picture of a baby lying next to an AK47 and hand grenade.
A note beside the sleeping toddler, signed off with ‘Indonesia’, read: ‘Uncles and aunts come and fight in Syria for jihad wherever you are.’
While the terror group continues its battle for superiority in Iraq and Syria, Islamic State’s ideology and propaganda videos are drawing in Muslim supporters from as far as south-east Asia.
Thousands from countries such as Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand the Philippines and Malaysia have joined ISIS on the battlefield in the Middle East. And the terror group has ‘tens of thousands’ of supporters and sympathisers in those countries.
Counter-terrorism experts told MailOnline these ISIS-trained fighters could now return home to execute lone wolf attacks, recruit more extremists and extend Islamic State’s caliphate even further around the world.
Radical hate preachers wield dangerous influence even from inside prisons where they radicalise other militants and ‘oath-taking ceremonies’ to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi take place freely.
They also warn that ISIS could start recruiting the Muslim Rohingya people who are fiercely persecuted in their home country of Burma and refused asylum by neighbouring Asian nations.
At least three violent and active militant groups in the region have already pledged allegiance to ISIS.
They are the Indonesian group Jemma Islamiyah which was responsible for the 2012 Bali Bombings, the Filipino group Abu Sayyaf which beheaded a village official this year and the Bangsomoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, also from the Philippines, who regularly clash with police forces.
‘ISIS poses a real threat to south-east Asia,’ a counter-terrorism expert at the RAND think-tank told MailOnline.
Dr Colin Clarke added that after seizing land in the Middle East, and causing havoc in north Africa, ‘south-east Asia is the logical next spot for ISIS to occupy’.
He said: ‘In countries like Indonesia and the Philippines, there are scores of aggrieved Muslims who previously – or currently – sympathized with groups like Jemma Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf Group.’
More than 500 Indonesians have joined Islamic State on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria and experts believe the country, home to 200 million Muslims, is a ‘ripe location’ for further recruitment.
A worrying survey conducted by the Pew Research Centre discovered 72 per cent of Muslim Indonesians want shariah law to be implemented in the country.
Some, like Muhammad Al-Indunisy, died in the Middle East. The teenage jihadi reportedly blew himself up in Syria in 2013. But around 200 of these battle-hardened militants are thought to have returned home.
Its last government was so worried about the rise of extremism that it banned verbal support for ISIS, clamped down on overseas travel to support terror groups and revoked citizenship of those suspected of doing so.
Experts say that under the new Prime Minister Joko Widodo, who came to power in October 2014, extremism has flourished on the streets and inside the country’s prisons where radical hate preachers spread ISIS propaganda and recruit new extremists.
Indonesian prisons have become ‘a central hub for terrorist recruitment,’ a terrorism expert who works as a senior analyst at the RAND think-tank said….