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Black flag rising: ISIL in Southeast Asia and Australia

By Peter Chalk

Although the prime focus of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been on establishing a state—a caliphate—in the Middle East, it has also sought to gain a presence beyond that area. Southeast Asia is one region that’s now receiving increased attention as a potential beachhead for the group. Most concern has focused on Malaysia, Indonesia, the southern Philippines and the Malay Muslim provinces of Thailand. The paper considers how these nations are responding to the threat.

Beyond Southeast Asia, ISIL is showing a growing influence in Australia. The measures the Australian Government are taking have been generally well received. However, a number of concerns have been raised about the pace and nature of Australia’s emergent counterterrorist strategy and their implications for the nation’s democratic character.

The paper puts forward national priorities and suggests that regionally greater emphasis needs to be given to formalising genuine counterterrorist cooperation.