chapter  8
Countering Radical Islam in Southeast Asia: The Need to Confront the Functional and Ideological "Enabling Environment"
Pages 24

Jemaah Islamiya (JI) represents the key terrorist threat in Southeast Asia. Through its Rabitatul Mujahideen (RM) coordinating framework, JI, whose ideological and operational locus is Indonesia, has sought to build a coalition of radical Islamist groups in its quest to forcibly establish a Darulah Islamiah Nusantara, or pan-Southeast Asian Islamic state. The RM was formed by JI spiritual leader Abu Bakar Bashir in late 1999 in Kuala Lumpur. 1 The first meeting, apart from JI core members, included elements from other regional radical Islamist groups such as Kumpulan Mujahideen Malaysia (KMM); Laskar Jundullah and Dami Islam; the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and Republik Islam Aceh from Indonesia; the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) from the southern Philippines; the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO) and the Arakan Rohingya Nationalist Organization (ARNO) from Myanmar; and the Pattani United Liberation Organization (PULO) from southern Thailand.2 It must be emphasized that not all of these groups share JI's global jihad agenda. While the RM has not been particularly active, 3 it would

be an error to disregard its significance. Because of the shared experience of jihad either in Afghanistan or Ambon in the Maluku Archipelago in eastern Indonesia, a sense of "brotherhood" exists between disparate SoutheastAsian radical Islamists, and the RM mechanism can, and has, crystallized this commodity for mutual assistance and support. Hence, in late December 2000, JI colluded with MILF elements to stage bombings in Manila that killed twentytwo people. This was in retaliation for a major offensive by Filipino armed forces that had earlier in the year resulted in the capture of more than forty MILF camps in the southern Philippines.4