"Since September 2001, the United States has increased focus on radical Islamist and terrorist groups in Southeast Asia, particularly those in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. Southeast Asia is a base for past, current, and possibly future terrorist operations. Al Qaeda penetrated the region by establishing local cells, training Southeast Asians in its camps in Afghanistan, and by financing and cooperating with indigenous radical Islamist groups. Indonesia and the southern Philippines have been particularly vulnerable to penetration by anti-American Islamic terrorist groups. […] The responses of countries in the region to both the threat and to the U.S. reaction generally have varied with the intensity of their concerns about the threat to their own stability and domestic politics. In general, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines were quick to crack down on militant groups and share intelligence with the United States and Australia, whereas Indonesia began to do so only after attacks or arrests revealed the severity of the threat to their citizens. Many governments view increased American pressure and military presence in their region with ambivalence because of the political sensitivity of the issue with both mainstream Islamic and secular nationalist groups. The Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand has escalated in recent years as has terrorist activity in southern areas of the Philippines. The report will begin with an overview of the rise of Islamist militancy and a discussion of the JI network before proceeding to discuss terrorism in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore and will conclude with a section on options and implications for U.S. policy. Counterterrorism strategies include placing greater emphasis on attacking the institutions that support terrorism, building up regional governments' institutional capacities for combating terrorist groups, and reducing the sense of alienation among Muslim citizens."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34194