Indo-Pacific View

P. S. Davidson Admiral, U.S. Navy Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

Dear Readers,

Welcome to Indo-Pacific Defense FORUM’s third-quarter edition for 2018 on countering terror threats.

Given the number and lethality of acts of terrorism worldwide, Indo-Pacific militaries and security organizations must continue to enhance their counterterrorism capabilities. Collaborative, multilateral approaches remain critical to recognize, prepare for, suppress, and respond to these continuously evolving threats.

In this issue, we share insights on recent successes in combating violent extremists, from the thwarted attempt to establish an Islamic state in the Philippines, to India’s adoption of elements of Singapore’s winning counterterrorism model, to suppression of returning foreign fighters in Malaysia. FORUM’s examination not only highlights some of the leading strategies and tactics used across the region but also probes some of the complex, underlying conditions that contribute to the proliferation of extremist beliefs and related attacks.

Lt. Col. Dr. Zulkarnain Haron of the Malaysian Armed Forces shares the significant lessons learned during the siege and retaking of Marawi. He analyzes how militant groups tied to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took root in parts of the Philippines and how the Armed Forces of the Philippines suppressed the spread of terrorism in the Indo-Pacific.

Dr. Miemie Winn Byrd, a professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, reviews the latest work by such scholars as French economist Thomas Piketty on how rising socio-economic inequality plays a role in radicalization. Another feature examines the plight of the Rohingya refugees from Burma. Some political leaders recently raised concern that extremist groups, such as ISIS, could prey upon great numbers of stressed and displaced people in Southeast Asia.

Also in this issue, Thomas Koruth Samuel of the Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism in Malaysia assesses how advances in technology, such as social media and the internet, have enabled terrorist groups to recruit youths who have been central to extremists’ playbooks.

Indo-Pacific nations can draw lessons from Marawi and each other’s successes to ensure history does not repeat itself, and terrorism, in any of its forms, does not take root in other parts of the region. Multilateral cooperation among allies and partner nations remains key for protecting citizens from this ever-changing threat.

I hope you find this edition insightful and thought-provoking, and I welcome your comments. Please contact the FORUM staff at with your perspectives.

All the best,

P. S. Davidson

Admiral, U.S. Navy

Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command