Even South Korea is Arresting Islamic State Supporters

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South Korea has arrested five Islamic State sympathizers for trying to smuggle bomb making materials to their native Lebanon.

The Korea Herald reported they were trying to transport ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer and bomb component, which is hard to obtain in Lebanon.

"Korea is now one of the top-tier economies in the world and it is also sending peacekeeping forces abroad," said National Assembly Member Lee Cheol-woo, "So we never know whether we will become the target of terrorists."

One of the biggest problems for counter-terrorism and counter-extremism has been the international reach of jihadist organizations.

Security services around the world cooperate with one another to arrest terrorists and to foil attacks, as the FBI has done in blocking nuclear materials being smuggled to ISIS via Moldova and cooperating with Swiss authorities to shut down an Islamic State plot by Iraqi nationals.

The internationalism of the ideology means Islamist extremists can operate across national borders and target alternative countries for recruitment, material support and to hide from opponents should one or another country clamp down.

The ease of modern travel enables this, coupled with the power of the Internet to spread ideas around the world in almost instantly. In January a South Korean teen went missing and is believed to have travelled to Syria to join the Islamic State. He is thought to have been radicalized online. 

Such examples from a place like South Korea, which has no history of conflict with Muslims and a very small Muslim community, expose the weaknesses of the nation state in challenging Islamism.  

Only a coordinated international response, therefore, will be able to adequately tackle this international problem. 

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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