Malaysia improves in terrorism ranking, but region emerges as hotspot

Zurairi Ar
Members of The Royal Malaysian Police take part in a demonstration showing a mock terrorist attack during the 211th National Day celebration at Pulapol in Kuala Lumpur March 25, 2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 — Malaysia has improved its position in the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) 2018, as the number of deaths from terrorism globally declined for the third year in a row last year.

Despite that, the report by Australia-based Institute of Economics and Peace released yesterday named Malaysia as among the contributors towards what it called the “second wave of Islamic terrorism” through Islamic State (IS)-affiliated groups and separatist movements here.

This year, Malaysia scored 2.7 out of 10, down from 3.334 last year. Zero denotes no impact of terrorism while the higher the number, the greater the impact of terrorism on the population.

Malaysia was also ranked 70th out of 138 countries in the index that seeks to measure the number of terrorist incidents, fatalities and casualties as well as damage to property in a country.

It was a marked improvement from Malaysia’s previous rank of 60th.

Malaysia was also among the nine countries in the Asia-Pacific region which improved its score, including, among others, neighbours Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia.

However, the overall average ranking of the region has decreased, due to rising terrorism in the Philippines and Myanmar — which accounted for over 87 per cent of all deaths from terrorism in the region last year.

The report also highlighted South-east Asia as one of the emerging hotspots for terrorism — joining the Sahel region near Sahara and Nigeria’s middle-belt — chiefly for the abovementioned “second wave of Islamic terrorism”.

This comes as groups from the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia formally pledged their allegiance to IS in 2016.

It also warned of the insurgency of Muslim Malays in Thailand’s southern provinces, seeking separation from the Buddhist government.

Globally, Iraq topped the index, followed by Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria, and Pakistan — unchanged from last year.

The worst terrorist attack in the world last year was in Mogadishu, Somalia, where a bomb by Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group Al-Shabaab killed 588.

Meanwhile, in the Asia-Pacific region, the two deadliest attacks took place in Myanmar by insurgent groups Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army and the National Democratic Alliance Army, killing 45 and 30 respectively.

The GTI is based on the Global Terrorism Database and defines “terrorism” as “threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation.”

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