The silent wave that is steadily taking over South East Asia might well have in it a dangerous trend for the future. From Thailand to Philippines, this region is silently witnessing the rise of the militant variant of political Islam. Accounting for almost 40% of the entire population of the region, adherents of Islam count up to approximately 240 million across the region. The real problem comes when the faith gets dangerously politicised for sectarian needs. With majority in Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, the jehadi groups pose potential danger of leading rest of the area towards bloodbath.
The real danger, however, seems to have been revealed after the attempts for establishing a trans-border Islamic Kingdom in the region connecting Malaysia, Indonesia, southern Thailand and the Muslim-dominated regions of Philippines. Connections of the Jemmah Islamiah group from Malaysia with the al-Qaeda were revealed when its members were arrested in Singapore, who were planning to blow up an airliner. Laskar Jihad of Indonesia and Abu Sayyaf of Phillipines, which are known for their radicalism have similarly gained notorierity for their approaches based on kidnapping and extortion. Over all, the local problems of poverty and inequality have been tapped meticulously by these Islamic miscreants. Be it Aceh in Indonesia or Mindanao in Philippines, the economic and the political differences in the region have aggravated the problem of fundamentalism and terrorism. So while the Moro Liberation Front was fighting in Manila, the radical variant Abu Sayaff, took over, linking the struggle with jehad.
The most interesting or ominous repercussion however relates to the likely intensification of the American presence in the region. Their overt intent of fighting the original sources of Islamic terror merges with the covert designs of encircling China in the region. Also, any future ‘war against terror’ would give them a chance of controlling the whole region which is rich in oil reserves. It is thus required that the national governments including ASEAN try to resolve this issue before Uncle Sam comes marching in.