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Transnational Islamist Movements in Asia: Networks, Structure, and Threat Assessment

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Abstract:

The International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, and the Center for Eurasian Policy of the Hudson Institute jointly organized an international conference on ‚ÄúTransnational Islamist Movements in Asia: Networks, Structure, and Threat Assessment‚ÄĚ at Sentosa Island, Singapore, on 19 and 20 September 2006. Prominent Islamic scholars, counter-terrorism experts, and regional security specialists from Australia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Spain and the United States participated in the conference. The key objective of the conference was to evaluate the evolving terrorist threat in Asia and to understand how global political and religious issues are transforming traditionally localized conflicts in many parts of the region. In this respect the influence of the events in the Middle East and developments within the global Muslim community on local Asian terrorist groups was also explored. Moreover, the conference examined the dynamic situations in the region that regional terrorists exploit to cope up with the constantly changing security environment. In the context of the September 11 attacks, the global war on terror as well as the U.S. invasion of Iraq, there is now a need to examine the issues of extremism and how to respond to the influence of the radical ideology which is spreading its tentacles in the hitherto moderate Muslim communities in the region. As the present conflict is about war of ideas, it is also necessary to deconstruct the radical ideology and work with moderate Muslims to reduce its appeal. The critical question addressed was whether violence is inherent within Islam, or whether it is just a misinterpretation and an abuse of the faith.