chapter  3
Al-Qaeda Comes to Southeast Asia
Pages 24

The horrors of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States and the ensuing war on terrorism galvanized the global community to come to terms with the reality of international terrorism. While the focus of the war on terrorism has been on Afghanistan and Pakistan, one of the key arenas is now Southeast Asia. This has caught both states and individuals in that region by surprise. Though most states in Southeast Asia have a Muslim population, ranging from 5 percent in the Philippines to 85 percent in Indonesia, the fact is that the region has always been considered the Islamic periphery. Muslims in Southeast Asia have long been characterized as secular, tolerant, modernist, and development-oriented. Moreover, many people within and outside Southeast Asia had believed that violence and terrorism, a daily reality in the Middle East, was anathema to Southeast Asia.