Recently, FBI Director James Comey made news when he declared ISIS in Iraq is a bigger threat than al Qaeda. Much of the focus on the expanding reach of ISIS has been on how much of a threat the global Islamist insurgency is to us.
There is, however, increasing evidence that the appeal of the ISIS agenda is making new inroads in unexpected places. South Asia might be the next front. Like other parts of the world, foreign fighter volunteers from South Asia are making their way to Iraq/Syria. And, no surprise, writes security analyst Joseph Chinyong Liow for the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, “the governments of Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore consider returnees from the civil wars in Syria and Iraq to be a potential source of insecurity in their respective countries.” But what really has the attention of counterterrorism experts is how extremists are networking across South Asia in support of ISIS, including “Katibah Nusantara, the Southeast Asian unit within IS, ostensibly created to improve communication with recruits from Indonesia and Malaysia….”
Developments in South Asia are just another warning sign that the global terrorist threat is resurgent. Whatever strides the U.S. administration has argued it has made over the last six years—increasingly the evidence is it has just not been working.