Archive for category Islam

Why did Islamic State militants execute James Foley? (+video)

By Howard LaFranchi
Christian Science Monitor
August 20, 2014

WASHINGTON — The video of the beheading of American journalist James Foley features a black-robed Islamic State militant claiming – in British-accented English – that the execution is in retribution for recent US air strikes against IS forces in Iraq.

The video also shows another prone and bound captured American journalist, Steven Sotloff, and issues a warning that he will suffer the same fate if the US pursues its military campaign against fighters for the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

But while the IS militants who made and disseminated the gruesome video may have aimed on one level to halt the US air strikes, experts in Islamist terrorism and its messaging say the group had a range of objectives and audiences in mind. Read the rest of this entry »

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Minister, who really is ISIS?

KJ John
Malaysiakini
Aug 19, 2014

Malaysia is not an Islamic state or a Muslim nation-state, but a Muslim-majority country which is well regarded by most of the world for our unity-style moderate government and our consistent principled stand on global issues; within the larger paradigm and context of a Muslim world which appears often confused or inconsistent on universal issues and values; mostly internal but some global inaction as well.

While it is not my purpose to highlight any failures of our Foreign Affairs Ministry, we have to manage Malaysia’s reputation which had been put on a global scale which is still much respected for our principled position, as exemplified by the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, especially on the issue of a racist South Africa.

Today however, we appear somewhat inconsistent in a number of foreign policy issues and global actions. For example, for me it is still not very clear if and whether the government of Malaysia did pay a few hundred millions for the release of our cockpit recorders for the downed MH17. Is then negotiating with International terrorists’ part of our new foreign policy?

For another instance, we have not ratified many international agreements and conventions; can the minister please explain the delay especially since we are now fighting so hard to sit not only on the UN Human Rights Council but also seeking to occupy one of the UN Security Council’s non-veto seat. Read the rest of this entry »

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On authorities’ alleged selective prosecution

– Lim Chee Wee
The Malaysian Insider
5 August 2014

Recent attempts to question the authorities’ purported inaction over cases involving non-Muslims’ alleged disrespect for Islam will only heighten racial tension. This is most irresponsible and unnecessary at a time when we can do with more goodwill among the different races.

On Sunday, Mingguan Malaysia in a column by Awang Selamat and Federal Territory Umno Youth chief, Mohd Razlan Muhammad Rafii had suggested that the authorities practiced selective prosecution by not acting against those who had insulted Islam. The argument was that Islamic preacher Shahul Hamid was swiftly picked up for questioning after a video of him insulting Hindus went viral on social media. Meanwhile, two individuals who had made disparaging remarks about Islam are still on the loose. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib should be a voice of moderation to fulfil the aspiration of our 1957 Merdeka Proclamation to make Malaysia “a beacon of light in disturbed and distracted world”

The call by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in Shah Alam yesterday for unity between followers of Islam’s two biggest schools, Sunni and Shia, is probably the first good news not only for Muslims but also for Malaysians in this year’s Ramadan as the past 12 days of the holy month in the Muslim calender have been dominated by negative voices of unreason – raucous, divisive and extremist – threatening the very fabric of Malaysia’s multi-racial and multi-religious nationhood.

Najib’s message to the Muslim world to learn to set aside whatever differences among the different denominations and coexist peacefully if it intends to guarantee its own future applies equally true and pertinent to the diverse races, religions and cultures in Malaysia if the Malaysian nation is to fulfil its Merdeka promise in 1957 to be “a beacon of light in a disturbed and distracted world” and not to become a basket case instead in the international arena.

Najib ‘s call for the unity of Sunni and Shia is particularly welcome as Middle and Moderate Malaysia, both Muslim and non-Muslim, had been most upset by a campaign of persecution and vilification of Shia Muslims, with calls at the UMNO General Assembly last December to spell out the definition of Islam as “Sunna waL Jamaah” in the Federal Constitution as well as recent developments in Syria and Iraq. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Allah’ struggle not over, moderate Muslims should lend support, says UN official

by Jennifer Gomez
The Malaysian Insider
6 July 2014

The struggle for the right of non-Muslims to use the word Allah in Malaysia is not over, a United Nations official said, suggesting that moderate Muslims and intellectuals get on board to lend weight to the church’s fight.

UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, said many Muslims believe the court ruling undermines the credibility of Islam.

“A vast majority of Muslims will agree that it undermines Islam by turning Allah into a personal name of the Islamic God,” he said in a phone interview from Germany.

Muslim scholars and clerics, both locally and worldwide, have criticised the ban, pointing out that the word predates Islam and it meant “God” in Arabic.

Former Perlis mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, known to supporters as the “voice of reason” and to critics as a “promoter of liberalism”, was one of those who had criticised the ban. Read the rest of this entry »

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Militant Leader in Rare Appearance in Iraq

by Alissa J. Rubin
New York Times
July 5, 2014

BAGHDAD — Wearing a black turban and black robes, the leader of the self-proclaimed Islamic state that stretches across eastern Syria and much of northern and western Iraq made a startling public appearance, his first in many years, at a well-known mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul, according to a video released on Saturday whose contents were confirmed by experts and witnesses.

Until then, there had been very few photographs on the Internet of the insurgent known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. But on Friday he delivered a public sermon in a city once under American control with an audacity that even Osama bin Laden never tried.

Previously he had been all but invisible, seemingly reluctant to risk a public appearance as his group grew in strength and he became the United States’ second-most sought-after terrorist, after Ayman al-Zawahri, the leader of Al Qaeda. The United States government has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his capture.

The victories gained by the militant group calling itself the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria were built on months of maneuvering along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, which define a region known as the cradle of civilization.

But on Friday at the pulpit of Mosul’s Great Mosque, Mr. Baghdadi appeared confident, calm and measured as he urged the faithful to fast during Ramadan and undertake jihad. He also asserted his position as caliph, or spiritual leader, of the Muslim faithful, calling himself “Khalifa Ibrahim,” or caliph Abraham, a reference to the prophet Abraham, who appears in the Quran. Mr. Baghdadi’s militant group declared its territory in Iraq and Syria a caliphate, or Islamic state, on June 29. Read the rest of this entry »

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Arab Spring, Jihad Summer

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times
2 July 2014

Welcome to IS. No typo; the final goal may be (indiscriminate) regime change, but for the moment name change will do. With PR flair, at the start of Ramadan, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS, or ISIL – the Islamic State of the Levant – to some) solemnly declared, from now on, it will be known as Islamic State (IS).

“To be or not to be” is so … metaphysically outdated. IS is – and here it is – in full audio glory. And we’re talking about the full package – Caliph included: “the slave of Allah, Ibrahim Ibn ‘Awwad Ibn Ibrahim Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Muhammad al-Badrial-Hashimi al-Husayni al-Qurashi by lineage, as-Samurra’i by birth and upbringing, al-Baghdadi by residence and scholarship”. Or, to put it more simply, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

IS has virtually ordered “historic” al-Qaeda – yes, that 9/11-related (or not) plaything of one Osama bin Laden – as well as every other jihadi outfit on the planet, to pledge allegiance to the new imam, in theological theory the new lord over every Muslim. There’s no evidence Osama’s former sidekick, Ayman “the doctor” al-Zawahiri will obey, not to mention 1.5 billion Muslims across the world. Most probably al-Qaeda will say “we are the real deal” and a major theological catfight will be on. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Caliphate Fantasy

by Khaled Diab
New York Times
July 2, 2014

The jihadist insurgent group ISIS, or as it now prefers to be called, the Islamic State, appears well on the road to achieving its stated goal: the restoration of the caliphate. The concept, which refers to an Islamic state presided over by a leader with both political and religious authority, dates from the various Muslim empires that followed the time of the Prophet Muhammad. From the seventh century onward, the caliph was, literally, his “successor.”

The problem with this new caliphate, which, an ISIS spokesman claimed on Sunday, had been established under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, an Islamist militant leader since the early days of the American occupation of Iraq, is that it is ahistorical, to say the least.

The Abbasid caliphate, for example, which ruled from 750 to 1258, was an impressively dynamic and diverse empire. Centered in Baghdad, just down the road from where ISIS is occupying large areas of Iraq, the Abbasid caliphate was centuries ahead of Mr. Baghdadi’s backward-looking cohorts. Abbasid society during its heyday thrived on multiculturalism, science, innovation, learning and culture — in sharp contrast to ISIS’ violent puritanism. The irreverent court poet of the legendary Caliph Harun al-Rashid (circa 763-809), Abu Nuwas, not only penned odes to wine, but also wrote erotic gay verse that would make a modern imam blush. Read the rest of this entry »

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In the grisly delusions of Isis, past and present are one

By Tom Holland
Financial Times
July 2, 2014

Faith and memory can haunt the Middle East, often to convulsive effect. Almost 70 years after the founding of Israel in the land that devout Jews believe was promised them by God, another state has been reconstituted that similarly traces its origins back to ancient times, and claims a divine sanction for itself.

On Sunday, carefully timed to coincide with the start of Ramadan, the jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant proclaimed the resurrection of “khalifa” or caliphate. No longer, they have announced, are they to be known by the acronym “Isis”.

Instead, with pretensions so global in scope that they now haughtily dismiss the legality of all other “emirates, groups, states, and organisations”, they have rebranded themselves as a universal Islamic state. Videos on YouTube duly portray the whole world as existing in the shadow of their fluttering black banner. On Twitter, their hashtag has been upgraded with great solemnity from #ISIS to #IS. Mastery of social media and an obsession with history are the keynotes of go-getting contemporary jihadists.

This is not quite the paradox it might seem, for in their fantasies past and present are invariably conflated. The concept of the caliphate that Isis is busy pushing on Facebook and Twitter reaches back, according to the traditions told by Muslims to explain the origins of their faith, to the very beginnings of Islam. Read the rest of this entry »

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Was justice done to the Herald?

Mohamed Hanipa Maidin
Malaysiakini
July 2, 2014

COMMENT Personally I was upset with the decision by the Federal Court refusing leave for the Herald to appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal. As a lawyer I found the decision was weird. As a Muslim I am of the view justice was not done to the Herald.

We all know that the issue raised by the Herald in the Federal Court was very, very important. Needless to say that being the final arbiter of any legal controversy the Federal Court should have held that the Herald ought to be given the leave to appeal.

Yes, an appeal to the Federal Court is not automatic, meaning that the Herald needed to obtain leave to appeal. Nevertheless, the practice has been that the apex court would normally grant the leave when the issue at hand involves novel and crucial legal or constitutional question and the same also attracts public interest.

No doubt the issue raised by the Herald had met all the legal prerequisites for leave to be duly given. It had raised a very important constitutional issue namely the correct interpretation of Article 11 of the federal constitution in particular Article 11 (4). Via the appeal, the Herald sought to be enlightened by the apex court the proper meaning and perimeters of freedom of religion enshrined in Article 11 of our highest law of the land. Read the rest of this entry »

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Fears of extremism rise in Muslim nations, poll shows

The Malaysian Insider
2 July 2014

Fears about Islamic extremism are rising in nations with large Muslim populations from the Middle East to South Asia and support for radical groups is on the slide, according to a poll released yesterday.

Concern about extremism has increased in the past 12 months amid the dragging war in Syria and attacks by Nigeria’s Boko Haram militants, the Pew Research Center found after interviewing more than 14,200 people in 14 countries.

Extremist groups such as al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Boko Haram and even Hamas, which won elections to take control of running the Gaza Strip, are also losing support.

And backing for the use of suicide bombings against civilian targets has dropped significantly in the past decade following a slew of brutal attacks.

The review was carried out from April 10 to May 25, before the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – now renamed the Islamic State – took over the northern Iraqi town of Mosul in a lightning offensive which has seen it seize a large swathe of territory. Read the rest of this entry »

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How ISIS is overshadowing al Qaeda

By Tim Lister, CNN
June 30, 2014

(CNN) — In a bold declaration of its ambition, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has laid claim to leadership of the global Islamist movement, calling on Muslims worldwide to swear allegiance to its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

By claiming such preeminence, ISIS is seeking to eclipse al Qaeda and its leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in what analysts see as the most dramatic shift in militant jihadism since 9/11. But ISIS also makes the outlandish claims — if its words are taken literally — that it leads 1.5 billion Muslims and that the world, not just the deserts of Syria and Iraq, are its new stage.

What did ISIS say?

The declaration was made Sunday in a 34-minute audio message by ISIS spokesman and ideologue Abu Muhammad al-Adnani al-Shami, who said that from now on, ISIS would simply be called the “Islamic State.” That is much more than a change of name; it simultaneously strips away the geographical limits imposed by the previous name and underlines the movement’s control of a wide swath of territory in Iraq and Syria. It even suggests that the group should exercise authority over Islam’s holiest places.

In a direct challenge to al-Zawahiri, al-Shami said it is now “incumbent upon all Muslims to pledge allegiance to the Khalifah Ibrahim and support him.”

Khalifah Ibrahim is the name now given to al-Baghdadi, a secretive figure never seen in ISIS’ voluminous propaganda output. Al-Shami says that al-Baghdadi has accepted the pledge of allegiance offered by senior figures of the “Islamic State.” Read the rest of this entry »

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ISIS Threatens Al Qaeda as Flagship Movement of Extremists

By BEN HUBBARD
New York Times
JUNE 30, 2014

AMMAN, Jordan — As Syria’s civil war raged, a Kuwaiti Islamist, Ghanim al-Mteiri, funneled cash from wealthy donors in the Persian Gulf to Syria’s affiliate of Al Qaeda in hopes that it would overthrow the government and lay the foundations of an Islamic state.

So Mr. Mteiri watched in dismay as another, even more violent jihadist organization, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, seized a chunk of Syria, stormed into Iraq and not only declared itself an Islamic state, but also demanded that all Muslims swear allegiance to its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

For the first time since its emergence more than two decades ago, the Qaeda of Osama bin Laden finds itself facing a rival jihadist organization with the resources and influence to threaten its status as the flagship movement of violent extremism. For the moment, Al Qaeda has lost ground, but the question remains: Will this new group, which now calls itself simply the Islamic State, endure?

Those still allied with Al Qaeda think the new group will fall victim to the same tactics that somehow have simultaneously made it an enemy of the West and of Ayman al-Zawahri, the leader of Al Qaeda.

“We all dream of an Islamic state, but we want a political Islam that is able to stand up and not be erased from the map,” Mr. Mteiri said. “The great powers will never accept this, and they are bigger and stronger than ISIS.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Any back-door attempt to enforce hudud is illegal, says Ambiga

V. ANBALAGAN, ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR
1 July 2014

There is an attempt to rewrite the Federal Constitution by using “the back door” to introduce hudud but that plan will fail as it is illegal, says former Bar Council chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenivasan.

The remark was in reference to a move to table a private member’s bill in Parliament that will allow Kelantan to enforce its Shariah penal code in the PAS-controlled state.

The east coast state has been governed by the Islamist party PAS since 1990.

If passed by a simple majority vote, the bill will give effect to the Kelantan Shariah Criminal Code Enactment II of 1993. Read the rest of this entry »

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At their first Cabinet meeting, will the three MCA/Gerakan new Ministers insist on Jamil Khir retracting two parliamentary statements for flouting BN consensus and established policies or choose to keep quiet to keep their Ministerial posts?

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikkhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) has issued a most timely statement to point out that there are no historical document to contradict the fact that Malaysia was intended to be a secular state all the way back to Merdeka in 1957 and the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

Contradicting the recent parliamentary statement of the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom that Malaysia was not a secular state, MCCBCHST president Jagir Singh said historical evidence and provisions in the Constitution dispel any doubts that the nation’s founding fathers had intended the nation to be a secular, not an Islamic state.

He cited historical documents such as the Alliance Memorandum submitted to the Reid Commission in 1956, and the white paper issued by the British government in June 1957, to contradict Jamil Khir’s claim that Malaysia was not intended to be a secular state.

For instance, the Alliance Memorandum jointly submitted by Umno, MCA and MIC to the Reid Commission specifically stated that they wanted a secular state, although the religion of the state was to be Islam. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Allah’ ruling makes ‘criminals’ of Bumiputera Christians, says Sarawak group

The Malay Mail Online
June 27, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, June 27 — Bumiputera Christians have become “instant criminals” after the Federal Court ruled to uphold a lower court decision against allowing the Catholic Church the use of the word “Allah” for God, the Sarawak Ministers’ Fellowship (SMF) said.

The umbrella group representing evangelical missions in the state noted that the bulk of Bumiputera Christians were from East Malaysia where the bibles in their native tongues or in the national language contained “Allah”, but adding that thousands of Sarawakian Christians worked or studied in the peninsula where their word for God was now barred to them.

“Are they to become instant criminals the day they start reading their bibles in their mother tongue?” the group’s chairman, Rev Daron Tan said in a statement.

Tan claimed that Bumiputera Christians in Sarawak had been referring to God as “Allah Taala” for the past 150 years, a situation that is now untenable due to the apex court’s decision on Monday.

He noted that the Federal Court ruling on Monday “had made criminals of Malaysian Christians when they pray and address God as ‘Allah Taala.’” Read the rest of this entry »

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Let Liow and Mah prove MCA and Gerakan will be Umno’s equal in government by restoring original BN consensus and getting their first Cabinet meeting to disown Jamil Khir’s parliamentary statement that “Malaysia is not secular state”

After the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s announcement of his re-appointment as Cabinet Minister on Wednesday, MCA President Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai declared that MCA and UMNO share equal roles in the Barisan Nasional (BN) framework, as well as in the government, in accordance with the BN’s traditional system of consensus.

Liow said MCA will not play second fiddle to UMNO in the Cabinet.

This is also the stand of the Gerakan President, Datuk Mah Siew Keong.

Just “as the proof of the pudding is in the eating”, let Liow and Mah prove that MCA and Gerakan will be UMNO’s equal in government by restoring the original BN consensus and getting their first Cabinet meeting to disown the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Jamil Khir Baharom’s parliamentary statement that “Malaysia is not a secular state”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Theofascism and the myth of ‘Moderate Malaysia’

— Dr Mohd Faizal Musa
The Malay Mail Online
June 26, 2014

JUNE 26 — To many, the report of fifteen Malaysians killed in Syria after joining in terrorist activities with Islamist militant group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), are rather shocking. This was the figure given by Permanent Representative of Syria to the United Nations in New York, in a press conference on June 18, 20141. They were asking, how could this happen? Why militants are coming from ‘a self-claimed moderate’ Malaysia?

Simple answer; the embrace of Wahabism in Malaysia is a source of radicalisation among Muslims here. In 2001, the PBS news programme Frontline noted that Saudi Government has been franchising Wahabism all over the globe; disguising their operation by funding charity work, education and religious institution. A transcript of PBS programme entitled ‘Saudi Time Bomb?’ reported how over the past few decades, “Saudi charities established hundreds of religious schools, or madrassas, from Malaysia to Uzbekistan, from the Sudan to Pakistan”2.

It is a fact that Malaysia is a ‘Saudi Arabia strategic ally’ in many ways”. For example, Malaysian Prime Minister thanked Saudi for “distributing an additional cash profit of US$8.15 million (RM26.2 million) to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad” in March 2011. Following this ‘distribution’ of cash during Bahrainis uprising in 2011 (author’s note: as a reminder most Bahrainis are Shi’ites), Malaysia promised to “fully back all sovereign decisions taken by our GCC allies which have the aim of safeguarding stability and security in the region to ensure harmony and peace for their citizen.” Malaysian Prime Minister also labelled the revolutionaries in Bahrain as “terrorist that undermines the stability and security of the country3.”

The embrace of Wahabism by certain sectors in Malaysia is certainly worrying. Permitting Wahabism in the society is like planting risk at the backyard. Read the rest of this entry »

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Is Najib a secret admirer of the ISIL/ISIS jihadists?

The clarification by the Prime Minister’s Office that the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s remarks regarding the Islamic State in Iraq and The Levant (ISIL) had been taken out of context raises more questions than answers.

The PMO statement said ISIL was “mentioned briefly and in passing” and that the prime minister “in no way indicated any support for ISIL”. It said “any allegation to the contrary is completely false”.

The PMO statement stated:

“Indeed, the Malaysian government classifies ISIL as a terrorist organisation and we are doing our part to combat them, for example by arresting suspected ISIL members in Malaysia.

“The prime minister’s strong stance over many years against violence and extremism is on record and remains undiminished. The prime minister has called for a Global Movement of the Moderates, rejecting extremism in all its forms, and he will continue to advocate for moderation.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Australia Warns of Islamic Militant Migration

By Rob Taylor
The Wall Street Journal
June 24, 2014

Australia Increases Counterterrorism Strategies to Combat Threat

CANBERRA — Australia has warned of a “disturbingly large” migration of Islamic militants from at home and elsewhere joining the conflict in Iraq, and said it was trying to increase regional counterterrorism cooperation to guard against any future threat they might pose.

Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, hinted at intelligence pointing to militants on the move internationally toward the Middle East to join the ranks of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham rebels, who have seized control of large swaths of northern Iraq. Prime Minister Tony Abbott is promising tougher security laws giving Australian spy agencies more power to intercept communications to counter a growing threat of homegrown jihadists returning from conflicts in Iraq and Syria and using their skills to launch violent attacks.

Ms. Bishop said some of the militants were from Australia and neighboring countries, heightening concerns among security officials about a repeat of militant attacks launched more than a decade ago by al Qaeda and allies, including the Jemaah Islamiah group responsible for bombings in 2002 and 2005 on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali.

“We are working closely with a number of other nations to counter the threat of people returning who have been radicalized and who have trained as terrorists,” Ms. Bishop said told Australia’s parliament. “We are seeking to expand our counterterrorism cooperation with countries in our own region, including in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.” Read the rest of this entry »

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