The self-proclaimed caliphate, the Islamic State (ISIS), has taken responsibility for numerous attacks that have occurred around the world, including the San Bernardino and Paris attacks. Since ISIS has conducted attacks in the United States as well as in Europe, many are now asking whether or not Asia will be next.
Recent evidence suggests that the group has recruited locally across Asia and is likely to carry out a major attack in the region this summer, Alex Bomberg at Intelligent Protection International tells the South China Morning Post.
“I think they are ready to do something in Asia," says Bomberg. "I think it’s going to happen very soon."
It is thought that if there is another attack in Asia, then the attackers would most likely be one of the insurgents either returning from fighting in Iraq or a self-radicalized individual in Indonesia, Malaysia, or the Philippines. These countries have large Muslim populations as well as alleged individuals that have already gone on to support ISIS in Iraq and Syria (as does China, reportedly).
Another security analyst tells the SCMP that it wouldn't be surprising “if we saw an attack somewhere in Southeast Asia that is seen as being inspired, linked or maybe even directed by [ISIS]."
Terrorist attacks in Asia would not be a new occurrence, as there have been several this century, including the October 2002 Bali bombings, the August 2003 J.W. Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta, the bombing of Super Ferry 14 in the southern Philippines in February 2004, and the September 2004 Australian Embassy bombing in Jakarta. These are earlier examples of such attacks and there have been recent attacks by people who had previously pledged allegiance to the radical terrorist organization, such as the ISIS-inspired attacks in Jakarta on January 14, 2016 and the April 9, 2016 attack on Philippine security forces in the southern island of Basilan conducted by groups claiming allegiance to ISIS.
So if ISIS were to attack Asia, where exactly would be a target? Based on their previous attack patterns, that would likely be subways and airports. Locations in Asia that ISIS could consider a target would be large tourist destinations that have expansive metro networks as well as large and frequently used airports.
Bomberg also tells the SCMP that they might carry out an attack in grand fashion:
To maximise damage and casualties, [ISIS] had adopted an “active shooter” tactic, where multiple gunmen simultaneously open fire with automatic weapons and quickly move from one location to the next, as was seen in Paris in November, [Bomberg] said.
“They are not going to waste opportunities,” he said. “They are going to want it to be spectacular.”
With a lack of support for terrorist groups in Hong Kong and stringent entry laws in place at airports around Greater China, it is said that China would be less of an "immediate risk" when compared to places like Indonesia, Malaysia or the Philippines. China claims it's also clamping down on the extremist group at home, having just last year announced that it had broken up gangs of ISIS fighters returning to the country. The country is also on high alert following this week's bombing at Pudong Airport.
That certainly doesn't rule out China as a target, though, as the group has threatened to attack the Middle Kingdom. Just last December, the group released a Mandarin-language song aimed at recruiting China's Muslims to take up arms. And in 2014, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi — who was reportedly killed in a US-led airstrike yesterday — released a video vowing to spread the "holy war" to Xinjiang.
[Image via New York Post]