The Shifting Global Terrorism and Extremism Landscape: A View from Southeast Asia

This talk provides an analysis of shifting global terrorism and extremism trends from a Southeast Asian and more specifically Singaporean vantage point. It sketches out the ideological and physical dimensions of the threat in Southeast Asia, explores an emergent far right ideological strain in a region long dominated by an Islamist extremist one – and reinforces the need for a holistic, multisectoral response to the threat, incorporating calibrated military/law enforcement responses as part of an “indirect” strategic counter-terrorism effort.

Kumar Ramakrishna is Professor of National Security Studies, Provost’s Chair in National Security Studies, Dean of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), as well as Research Adviser to the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, at RSIS. Prior to his current appointments, he was Head, International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (2020-2022), Head, Centre of Excellence for National Security (2006-2015) and Head, National Security Studies Programme (2016 to 2020). He was also Associate Dean for Policy Studies (2020 to 2022).

A historian by background, Professor Ramakrishna has been a frequent speaker on counter-terrorism before local and international audiences, a regular media commentator on counter-terrorism, and an established author in numerous internationally refereed journals. His first book, Emergency Propaganda: The Winning of Malayan Hearts and Minds 1948-1958 (2002) was described by the International History Review as “required reading for historians of Malaya, and for those whose task is to counter insurgents, guerrillas, and terrorists”. His second major book, Radical Pathways: Understanding Muslim Radicalisation in Indonesia (2009) was featured as one of the top 150 books on terrorism and counterterrorism in the respected journal Perspectives on Terrorism, which identified Professor Ramakrishna as “one of Southeast Asia’s leading counterterrorism experts”. His recent research has focused on understanding, preventing and countering violent extremism in Southeast Asia. His latest book is Extremist Islam: Recognition and Response in Southeast Asia (New York: Oxford University Press, 2022).