The Implications of the 9/11 Attack to South East Asia Minority: the Philippines

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The 9/11 incident believed to be the results of what Samuel Huntington explained as a 'Clash of Civilization'. Huntington described the clash between Western and Muslim civilization might happen after the end of the Cold War. This can be true, as before the 9/11 attack, Iran become more powerful and influential in the Middle East region. Iran, then regarded as a regional hegemonic power over its nuclear weapon development. The 9/11 incident, which was thought to be linked to the Islamist movement, is therefore related to the power regulation. The rising civilization of Islam must be stopped before it becomes stronger and defies the West, particularly the United States. Thus, many people also saw the 9/11 attack as America's strategies for knowing which countries are their allies, and vice versa.

Aside from that, the 9/11 incident changed the whole situation for Islamist movement especially in Southeast Asia. Southeast Asia's Islamist movement has undergone drastic changes in the post-9/11 world, especially those who are linked to Al-Qaeda. After the coalition intervention led by the U.S. in Afghanistan in October 2001 and the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Al-Qaeda's organization was dramatically scattered. A weakened Al-Qaeda started to rely much more on its regional and local Islamist counterparts around the world, including those in Southeast Asia, especially in the Philippines and Thailand to continue its international campaign of terror.[ Gunaratna, Rohan. (2007). Terrorism in Southeast Asia: Threat and Response 1. Retrieved on 18 April,2019, from. However, the unequal and harsh treatments towards the minority Muslim in the South Thailand and the Philippines actually started long before the 9/11 incident. Thus, the Islamist movement in both states is very active. After the 9/11 incident, the government of Thailand and the Philippines began to impose more aggression towards the minority Muslims. This also happened due to America’s aids, to combat terrorism in Southeast Asia. Hence, the minority Muslim in South Thailand and in Mindanao, Philippines, faced more violence, and unequal treatments from its government.

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After the 9/11 attacked on the World Trade Center, the former Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra has ordered his government to use fully force on the movement of Minority Muslim in South Thailand. To make things worse, the support from the International community on combating terrorism made Thaksin’s government to use more aggression on them. This can be seen through his policy’s and the aggression forces to the minority Muslim in the Krue Sae mosque on 28 April 2004 and Tak Bai massacre on 25 October 2004. These attacked was directly instructed by Thaksin itself. Moreover, most of people in his government are either his family or his politics allies. This is so that his actions towards the minority muslim in South Thailand can be done without being protested.[ Mohd Noor Yazid. (2017). Asia Pasifik Sejak 1945. Perubahan Struktur Antarabangsa dan Percaturan Politik Serantau. Bab 9, hlm.127-128.] The Krue Sae mosque incident happened when the Thai army surrounded the mosque where it was believed that there are 32 Malay Muslim separatists in there. The Thai army believed that these men were among more than 100 who had attacked police stations and checkpoints across the south before the Krue Sae incident. After an eight-hour standoff and exchanges of gunfire, the army attacked, killing everyone inside the mosque.

Not only the Krue Sae mosque incident, on 25 October 2004, the was a massacre on Muslim protesters. These protesters gathered in front of Tak Bai Police Station, Narathiwat Province, protesting the prolonged imprisonment of six 'village defense volunteers.'. During the demonstrations, seven people were shot dead and many of the demonstrators were later beaten by soldiers while being forced to lie face down in the hot sun on the ground for several hours with their hands tied behind their backs. Nearly 1,300 people were subsequently loaded into six-layer trucks and transported to the Inkayut Military Camp in Pattani Province. The route takes five hours, during which time people piled on top of them crushed those on the bottom layers. 78 people were killed, allegedly as a result of suffocation, renal failure, and major internal organs collapse.

Since the early 1970s, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) has initially led the Southern Phiilippines to experience a regional separatist Moro (Indigenous Muslim) insurgency. The MNLF secured a peace in Mindanao in 1996 to attain limited political autonomy for Muslims, but a more Islamist-oriented splinter, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), continued the conflict. The MILF separated from the secular MNLF coincided with the global emergence of other fundamentalist Islamic movements around the world and changed the conflict's tenor. Abu Nidal and the Palestinian Liberation Organization were already running money into the Philippines when Osama bin Ladin built a network of support for his operations there. Al-Qaeda funds directly aided the establishment of the Abu Sayyaf group, the initial framework was formed by Filipinos with experience fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. Abu Sayyaf's leaders visualized a perfect Islamic state independent from the government of the Philippines, focused on the fundamental principles of Wahabbist Salafi, and was far more radical than the MNLF or MILF.

When her government took power in January 2001, Macapagal-Arroyo adopted a three-pronged approach to dealing with the Islamic movement of Mindanao. First, the MILF peace talks were rekindled by the government. Second, the administration threw its support behind a MNLF movement that challenged Governor Misuari's leadership and first approved a new referendum on autonomy in August 2001, followed by the subsequent elections in November in the Autonomous Region, both opposed by Misuari. Third, her government has declared 'total war' against Abu Sayyaf, conveying determination to end the abduction crisis and completely eliminate the terrorist group. The 9/11 attack allowed Macapagal-Arroyo’s government to bring the Islamic movement on the losing side because of the connection between ASG and the international terrorist, Al Qaeda. The 9/11 attack also became a political opportunity for her government to seek and obtain U.S. direct support in the Mindanao war on terrorism. However, some government officials uncompromising attitude towards Mindanao's Muslim desires, including failure to improve Muslims ' unequal socio - economic situation, led to the rise of Islamic opposition.

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