What is it about?

Terrorists want to occupy territory not only because it enhances their operational capability but is also essential if they aim to enact their method of governance. This paper explains why in the context of Southeast Asia, geography, the social context, and the availability of some weapons may help terrorists defend their territory. In addition to the mountainous and forested terrain, Southeast Asia's archipelagic terrain allows island-hopping tactics to evade persecution. Additionally, terrorists that rely on familial ties to win the hearts and minds of the population have a better chance of securing territory. Finally, terrorists' access to guns, not explosives, radically increases their chances of defending their territory.

Featured Image

Why is it important?

Terrorists groups that control territory are deadlier. By understanding the factors behind territorial control, and potentially denying resources that support territorial preservation, counterterrorists can radically reduce the influence of terrorist groups on the local population.


There are many studies on terrorist sanctuaries. However, these studies tend to be speculative and unmeasurable. This research allowed me to employ geospatial analysis to highlight the differences between terrorist groups with and without control over territory.

Kenneth Yeo
Nanyang Technological University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Geography, governance, guns: characterising Islamist terrorist sanctuaries in Maritime Southeast Asia (2014 – 2021), Asian Security, October 2022, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/14799855.2022.2132854.
You can read the full text:



The following have contributed to this page