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Islamic State Is Rapidly Expanding in Southeast Asia

Islamic State Is Rapidly Expanding in Southeast Asia

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has ramped up its activities in Southeast Asia so effectively that there is now an entire military unit of terrorists recruited from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, according to Singapore’s prime minister.“This is why Singapore takes terrorism, and in particular ISIS, very seriously,” Lee said. “The threat is no longer over there, it is over here.”

Terrorism in Southeast Asia is not new. More than 200 people died in the Bali bombings in 2002. Jemaah Islamiyah almost succeeded in a plot to bomb diplomatic offices in Singapore just after Sept. 11, 2001. But the development that Southeast Asian terror groups are now flying the black Islamic State flag — and that young men from the region are saluting — is a huge problem.

Terrorism in Southeast Asia is not new. More than 200 people died in the Bali bombings in 2002. Jemaah Islamiyah almost succeeded in a plot to bomb diplomatic offices in Singapore just after Sept. 11, 2001. But the development that Southeast Asian terror groups are now flying the black Islamic State flag — and that young men from the region are saluting — is a huge problem.

The current U.S.-led fight against the Islamic State is largely limited to the Middle East. But the jihadists’ approach to fighting the West has no geographic boundaries. Unless the anti-Islamic State coalition does more to cooperate with countries in Southeast Asia and elsewhere, the terror group will just expand its recruiting and attacks across the globe.

The Islamic State has said it intends to establish a province of its “caliphate” in Southeast Asia. Lee said the idea was a “grandiose, pie-in-the sky dream.” But he warned that it’s entirely feasible that the group could take advantage of some ungoverned spaces to establish a foothold from which to expand recruiting and plan attacks in the new host countries. “That would pose a serious threat to the whole of Southeast Asia,” Lee said.


Syrian Conflict is now a Regional War

Syrian Rebel

Syrian Rebel


Is the Syrian Civil War Becoming a Regional War?

According to the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, the three-year old Syrian War is now a “Regional War,” having drawn in other nations and non-state actors as belligerents in the conflict.

Here is a quick look at the facts of this nasty civil war back up the General’s analysis.  The war in Syria began as a protest movement against the dictatorship of Bashar Assad.  Having inherited his power from his father, the late Hafez al-Assad, the current Syrian president is the head of the Ba’ath Party, and a member of the Alawite religious minority in Syria.  The Assads have long been allied to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and, in turn, have been key sponsors of the Shi’ite militias of Lebanon, in particular, the powerful Hezbollah terrorist group. 

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As the violence in Syria has escalated, and the Assad regime has lost more territory to the rebels, other actors have entered the fray.  Pro-Western Muslim nations in the neighborhood, including Turkey and Jordan, are openly giving sanctuary and aid to the Free Syrian Army rebels.  Saudi Arabia and other rich Gulf States are providing economic and moral support to the rebels as well.  The NATO allies are also providing support for the defense of Turkey and Jordan, while also aiding the rebels.

On the opposite side, Hezbollah is now sending its military forces into Syria to fight for the Assad regime, while Iran supplies the government forces with weapons, training, and financial support.  Some reports claim that Iranian military personnel are also involved in the fighting.  Shi’ite militias from Iraq are also reportedly in Syria helping the regime. 

The 800-pound gorilla, so to speak, in the neighborhood is Israel.  Still technically at war with Syria since the first Arab-Israeli War in 1948, Israel is very worried about the transfer of advanced weapons from Assad to Hezbollah.  In particular, Israel is worried about long-range Iranian and Russian-supplied missile transfers and the potential for Syria’s stock of chemical weapons falling into Hezbollah’s hands.  To this end, Israel has launched at least three air strikes in recent months to prevent such transfers.  All this while also responding to shots and rounds falling into the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.  Israel has provided medical assistance to Syrian rebels in the border region, and speculation has arisen as to whether Israeli Special Forces have been inside Syria lately.

With the ongoing tensions between Israel, Turkey, Jordan and the Western Allies on one side, and the Syrian Assad regime, Hezbollah, and Iran on the other (as well as the ongoing tension and terrorism in neighboring Iraq), it is safe to say that General Myers is correct in that the Syrian Civil War has now evolved into a true regional conflict with the potential to erupt into a major Middle East War.

Syrian rebel fighter in Aleppo

Syrian rebel fighter in Aleppo

Mali Jihadists Advance

As the international community (the UN, ECOWAS, the U.S., France, and NATO), slowly decide how to address the growing problem of the Jihadist takeover of northern Mali, the aforementioned Jihadists are not waiting around.  The combined Jihadist coalition of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Ansar al-Din and the Movement for Tawhid and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), began an offensive in central Mali near Kona, a town near Mopti on January 9, 2013.  After brief fighting, the Jihadists seized the town, capturing several government soldiers in the process.

As a result of the new round of fighting, the previously planned meetings between Malian officials, Tuareg separatists and leaders of the Jihadist militant groups occupying northern Mali were postponed to January 19, according to an aide to Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaoré, the official mediator.

All this comes as Mali government and its foreign allies put together a planned force of about 3,000 (that may or may not have U.S./European air support), to take back northern Mali.  As the world dithers about what to do in Mali, reports from the Jihadist-occupied territory claim that al-Qaida and her allies are fortifying the north of Mali with tunnels, bunkers, and other defenses.

The End of the Iraq War? Was it Worth It?

Iraq War Battles

Iraq War Battles

Was the Iraq War worth it?  With nearly 5,000 American dead, hundreds of thousands (at least) Iraqi dead, a Shiite regime in power in Baghdad, increasing tensions between the Arab Iraqis and the Kurdish Iraqis, and a plethora of other issues, was the war worth it from the American Perspective?

For more resources  on the Iraq War, see
War Combat Video


Feel free to add your comments below on the worth of the Iraq War.

NATO Hits Pakistan Border Again, Killing 24 Pakistan Troops

Pakistan is once again coming under fire, literally, for serving as a safe haven for Afghan Taliban forces using the ill-defined border region as a base from which they launch attacks on NATO/ISAF/Afghan forces inside Afghanistan.  Below are incidents and conflicts involving the NATO/ISAF mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  See also


Video of NATO Raid on Pakistan
U.S. Drone War in Pakistan (2004-Present)–The American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) uses unmanned Predator drone aircraft to cross the Pakistani border and launch missiles at suspected Taliban and al-Qaida forces and camps. Pakistan repeatedly denounces these attacks as a violation of their sovereignty. Various sources place the number of Pakistani/Taliban/al-Qaida casualties as a result of these attacks at between 1,700 and 2,600 as of November, 2011.

NATO Raid on Pakistan Military Outpost (Sept. 30, 2010)–NATO helicopters attack a border outpost, killing three Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan retaliates by closing the border to NATO supplies for two weeks.

U.S. Navy SEAL Raid on Abbottabad, Pakistan (May 1, 2011)–U.S. Special Forces raided a compound inside Pakistan, killing al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

NATO Raids on Pakistan Military Outposts (Nov. 25, 2011)–NATO aircraft attacked two Pakistani border posts, killing at least 24 Pakistani troops. NATO was attempting to target Taliban forces along the border, in Salala, a village in Pakistan’s Mohmand tirbal area near the border with Kunar Province in Afghanistan. (see Pakistan Border Region Map below).

Kenya Invasion of Somalia Update 10.18.11

al-Shabab War in Somalia Update:

After the disintigration of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) after the U.S.-aided Ethiopian Invasion of 2006, the al-Shabab militia became the leading Islamist military group. In 2007, Shabab publicly aligned itself with al-Qaida, and has waged a bloody guerrilla war against the TFG government forces and the African Union troops (primarily troops from Uganda and Burundi), in Mogadishu and in southern Somalia. Al-Shabab is considered a terrorist group by Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. (see also U.S. Special Forces Attack on al-Qaida in Somalia (September, 2009)

Shabab engaged in a terrorist attack in Uganda in 2010, and in the autumn of 2011, Shabab militants kidnapped several foreigners from Kenyan soil, prompting a Kenyan military intervention in southern Somalia to battle the Shabab fighters. Kenyan government sources claimed that the goal of their invasion was to end the Shabab presence in the southern Somali city of Kismayo.

Witnesses reported seeing 25Kenyan armoured vehicles carrying Kenyan soldiers passing through the Somali town of Dhobley, and there were reports of warplanes bombing two Shabab bases near the border.

According to the BBC, Somali government troops are acting in conjunction with the Kenyan forces ito attack the al-Shabab-controlled areas in southern Somalia. The third day of the Kenyan offensive featured a slowing down of Kenyan forces due to heavy rain and mud in a region with few paved roads.

Map Kenya and Somalia

Map of Kenya and southern Somalia in 2011

Kenya Intervenes in Somalia. Is This At America's Bidding?

Kenyan forces intervene in southern Somalia to battle the al-Shabab Islamist militia.  Shabab has engaged in terrorist activities in Somalia, Uganda, and Kenya, and is allied with al-Qaida.

Kenya and the Transitional Somali government are supported by the United States.  And, can it be a coincidence that this intervention by an American-allied African nation takes place only two days after President Obama announces the American intervention in the Lord’s Resistance Army Insurgency that has bedeviled Uganda, southern Sudan, Congo, and the Central African Republic?  Note that Uganda,  has thousands of troops in Somalia in support of the transitional government.

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Islamist Guerrillas Bedevil Both Israel and Egypt in Sinai

Israeli Casualties On August 18, 2011, squads of heavily-armed Popular Resistance Committee (PRC)  guerrillas from Gaza travelled about 120 miles through Egyptian Sinai to attack Israeli citizens near the southern Israeli city of Eilat, killing eight Israelis. Israel retaliated with airstrikes on targets inside Gaza. The PRC is a relatively small Palestinian resistance group that has at times served as an ally of Hamas.

This attack on Israel took place just as Egyptian forces began targeting Salafist Islamist guerrillas who have been attacking Egyptian  pipelines in the Sinai. These attacks by bySalafist Islamist forces believed tied to al-Qaida, prompted Egypt’s military rulers to seek permission from both Israel (due to troop level restrictions in their mutual peace agreement), and from Hamas, the Palestinian faction that rules over Gaza.  Egypt sent over 1,000 security forces backed by armored personell carriers launched a campaign to defeat the Islamist guerrillas.

See also:

Bahrain Violence Growing Concern for U.S. and Potential Gain for Iran

Apparantly learning from the fall of long-ruling regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, Bahrain’s military took control of the capital Thursday, February 17, 2011, only hours after riot police firing birdshot, rubber bullets and teargas stormed an anti-government protest camp, killing at least five people and wounding more than 230. The Bahrain government, dominated by the minority Sunnis, moved swiftly to crush the nascent, largely Shiite-led protests against the government. The implications for the United States if Bahrain falls to the Shiites, or falls into violent chaos, are very serious. Bahrain serves as the “home port” for the United States Navy’s 5th Fleet, and is therefore a bulwark for the whole Sunni-dominated Arabian Peninsula against influence and power from Shiite-ruled Iran.