Sunday, February 11, 2007

Understanding Islamic Militancy; Part I: Where is the Most Trouble?

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
February 11, 2007

The issue of Islamic militancy, violence and unrest appears more and more in the international media. We are asking why and now envision a series of researched essays to forge a better understanding of this phenomena.

In this first article, we are attempting to document the places in the world most impacted by Islamic militancy and unrest. We need your help. Please email your information, facts and references to to contribute to our understanding.

Southern Thailand

The death toll in the sectarian violence in southern Thailand is now approaching 2,000 over the course of the last three years. Muslims in Yala and two other southern Thai provinces want their own Muslim state.

Beheadings and other atrocities are common.

The government of the previous Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was unable to control the violence and was deposed by a bloodless military coup last September. But the new Thai government as been equally unable to stem the violence.We frequently hear from Wantanee in Thailand who gives us insights and reports.


Islam may be the oldest organized religions to be established in the Philippines. Muslim traders brought Islam to the Philippines as early as the 14th century.

Today Filipino Muslims only form about 5% of the country's population, while the rest of the general population are mostly Roman Catholic (84%) and Protestant (8%).

Friction between the Muslim south and Christian north has been a continual problem for centuries. Occasionally, it flares up into open conflict. The largest guerilla force is currently the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). They claim to control 26 southern "territories;" but the government only credits them with controlling only ten.

The MILF wants to form its own government and break away from the Philippines.

Western China

The government of China says its western most province of Xinjiang is alive with Islamic separatists. Xinjiang borders the Tibet Autonomous Region to the south, Mongolia to the east, Russia to the north, and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and the Pakistan-India controlled parts of Kashmir to the west. Xinjiang is somewhat like the autonomous tribal regions of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border where national police and armed forces fear for their lives.

Pakistan-Afghanistan Border

The border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan is a largely uncontrolled area. Not only is human traffic between Afghanistan and Pakistan largely unregulated but there are also camps of Muslim rebels and terrorists in this mountainous region. The government of Pakistan claims to have made inroads in regulating the area but many of these steps have been tentative.

We frequently hear from Muhammad in this region and we thank him for his regular reports.


After the failed U.S. Army humanitarian operation in Somalia from August 1992 to March 1994, the government was practically non existent. Rebels and tribal leaders attempted to assert control. Al Qaida targeted the area as a potential region to establish Islamic terrorist training areas.Recently, a movement has been made toward all inclusive diplomatic talks to get Somalia on the road toward lawful government.

The UN and others want the talks to include prominent Somali warlords, leaders of the breakaway Somaliland region and leaders of the ousted Islamic movement.Somalia remains a very troubled land.


Islamic radicals continue to engage in conflict against U.S. and NATO troops. The Muslim people of Afghanistan are mostly tribal and follow their orders from their tribal elders. We talked recently to some Afghanis who expressed revulsion at the use of suicide bombers in religious strife.


The U.S. effort to establish a democratic government has been marred by sectarian violence.

All Around Israel

Lebanon seems to be a nation divided with Hezbollah fomenting unrest that could lead to Civil War. In the Gaza strip peace has alluded Israel and may still be a long time in coming.


In Russia's Tatarstan region more and more young people are switching from Western-style dress to Muslim attire. More than just a fashion, the trend reflects a surging interest in Islam among the youth of this largely Muslim region on the Volga River, some 450 miles east of Moscow.Violence still sometimes erupts in Chechnya.

The population of Chechnya is largely Muslim and has been striving for years for complete autonomy from Russia.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the government of the republic of Chechnya declared independence, calling itself the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. Only other “nation” recognized this claim: the Afghan Taliban government, which was subsequently ousted by the U.S.


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