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Terrorism remained top concern in the region

Updated On: Jul 13, 2007

The recent terrorist attack in the United Kingdom has put the issue of terrorism and threat from Al-Qaeda back on the international headlines.

What was alarming was a possible link to Thailand. A man closely watched by the British police had recently spent some time in Thailand. The British police had asked Thai counterparts to track the man fromPakistan but a spokesman of the British embassy in Bangkok denied that the man was related to the failed terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow.

The Philippines, which is one of the weakest link in the fight against terrorism, continued to be besieged with problems in Southern Philippines. On Tuesday (10 July), 14 marines were killed after they were ambushed by militant forces in Basilan. At least 10 of them were beheaded. The marines had been on a mission to search for a missing Italian priest. The Philippine military blamed Abu Sayyaf for the terror but Mohagher Iqbal, the chief negotiator for the Muslim separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (which is engaged in peace talks with the government) said the marines had attacked an MILF stronghold and his forces fought back.

The Philippines government has been trying to implement a controversial Anti-Terror Law called the Human Security Act (HSA). However, there have been fears that it would be abused. Senator Manuel A. Roxas II said it was imperative for the government not to implement the anti-terror law without a set of rules and regulations to prevent abuse and human rights violations. He explained, “The government should not implement the HSA without a set of IRRs [implementing rules and regulations]. This poses a danger to the security and rights of every Filipino.”

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) also urged the government to review the HSA to ensure that human rights would not be curtailed. However, President Arroyo dismissed the need for any IRR. The Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye assured, “We assure the people that there are more than enough safeguards in the HSA (Human Security Act) to curtail abuse and uphold civil liberties.” 

It is not only the Philippines that is concerned about terrorist threat. As the host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting to be held later this year, Australia is stepping up its security measures. 21 world leaders, including U.S. President George W. Bush, will gather in Sydney for APEC summit in September. Australia, has never suffered a major peacetime attack on home soil, but it is likely to be a target due in part to its support to the US war on terror.

About 3500 security personnel will be deployed at the summit, including New South Wales police, Australian Federal Police and police officers from New Zealand. The Assistant Commissioner Kaldas who is responsible for the surveillance aspects of the APEC security effort said, “It has to be something that worries us, the so-called lone wolf factor.” He explained, “Somebody who doesn't communicate with anybody else, therefore we have no way of knowing, or intercepting or listening in . . . about what it is they're intending.” (12 July 2007)

Sources:

Police fear 'lone wolf' terrorist at APEC (The Age, 12 July 2007)

Australia fears "lone wolf" APEC terror attack (Reuters, 11 July 2007)

Man Watched By UK Police Was In Thailand -Thai Police  (Dow Jones International News, 11 July 2007)

14 Philippine marines killed, some beheaded, in clash with Muslim rebels (Associated Press, 11 July 2007)

Terror law resolutions okayed (Manila Standard, 11 July 2007)

Anti-Terrorism Law is people’s shield vs terrorists, says Domingo (Manila Bulletin, 11 July 2007)

Palace urged to defer anti-terror law (Manila Bulletin, 11 July 2007)

Effectivity of Anti-Terrorism Law not determined by IRR (Philippines News Agency, 10 July 2007)







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