Eye of the Storm

Ever since the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S., speculation has been rampant about the extent of al-Qaeda's ambitions in Southeast Asia. Some analysts fingered sprawling, chaotic Indonesia as the possible nexus of an Asian network, pointing to its thousands of radical Muslims fighting bloody private wars against their Christian neighbors. Others suggested the Philippines, whose lawless, predominantly Muslim south harbored well-armed Islamic militias that have been waging war against the central government for decades. Very few suspected peaceful, relatively prosperous Malaysia, where Muslims make up two-thirds of the population but seemed to have bought into the consumerist, essentially...

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