Small Wars Journal

Comparing Counterterrorism in Indonesia and the Philippines

Comparing Counterterrorism in Indonesia and the Philippines by Scott N. McKay and David A. Webb, Combating Terrorism Center

Terrorism in Southeast Asia predates the American post-9/11 war on terrorism. But since 2001, terrorist groups in Indonesia and the Philippines have emerged as significant security challenges within these states, as well as indirect threats to U.S. national security. The United States has made substantial direct and indirect contributions to the counterterrorism (CT) efforts within these states, with varying returns on investment.

Despite differing responses to terrorism, Indonesia and the Philippines are both commonly viewed as CT success stories, as terrorist groups have been degraded and links to al-Qa’ida have been weakened. But while terrorist operations in Indonesia have declined in the post-9/11 era, attacks have increased in the Philippines. Last month, an operation targeting international terrorists on the southern island of Mindanao resulted in the death of 43 Philippine national police commandos…

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