The Yomiuri Shimbun
Jakarta terrorist attacks show threat posed by ISIL has reached Asia
ジャカルタテロ 「イスラム国」の脅威アジアに

It has become clear that the threat of terrorism, influenced by radical ideology, has spread from the Middle East, Europe and the United States to Southeast Asia.

A group of men exploded bombs and exchanged gunfire with police in central Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, the nation with the world’s largest Muslim population. Eight people, including four perpetrators, died and more than 20 others were injured.

The scene of the attacks was in a downtown area where a large commercial facility is located. The Japanese Embassy is also nearby. As in the case of simultaneous terrorist attacks carried out in Paris in November last year, the latest attacks were made against “soft targets” such as a coffee shop, where security is relatively light.

The authorities are investigating the incident as terrorism masterminded by an Indonesian militant who joined the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant group and is now living in Syria. ISIL claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Such despicable brutality that indiscriminately attacks ordinary citizens and foreigners is intolerable. The international community must urgently strengthen cooperation in antiterrorism measures.

It was reported that the mastermind of the Jakarta attacks has been attempting to establish a Southeast Asian branch of ISIL and may have tried to expand ISIL’s influence in the region by waging terrorist attacks using Indonesian collaborators.

Promote unity

If this is true, it is a serious problem. The authorities must strive to uncover the whole truth of the latest incident and restore order.

It is also necessary to counter ISIL’s propaganda campaign by promoting unity among moderate Muslims.

Activities of terrorist organizations have been abating in Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries in recent years since the authorities tightened their crackdown on such groups.

But these countries must stay alert against a possible revival of domestic terrorist organizations at the instigation of ISIL and the possibility that a united front between ISIL and those organizations will become more active.

It is said that about 380 people from Indonesia have joined ISIL. From Southeast Asia as a whole, about 600 people are said to have joined ISIL and other militant groups.

It is worrisome that there is an increasing risk that well-trained militants may return to their countries and commit large-scale terrorism.

In connection with this, the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations must strictly implement immigration controls and other measures.

ISIL has clearly said that Japan is one of its targets. Terrorism that has reached Southeast Asia is not someone else’s problem. In December, the government established Counterterrorism Unit-Japan (CTU-J), which is tasked with consolidating information regarding terrorism overseas.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida stressed, “By utilizing the unit and other resources, we want to take steps to thoroughly ensure the safety of Japanese nationals overseas.” To this end, it is essential to share terrorist information with ASEAN countries.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 20, 2016)