The weakest link in regional terror fight

Updated On: Apr 14, 2006

Despite the progress made by ASEAN since 911 and particularly after the 2002 Bali bombing in nabbing terror suspects, problematic areas remain in the regional terror fight against the scourge of terrorism. Mindanao is now identified as one of these areas which require greater vigilance. It is said to be a training base for terrorists and a smuggling center for arms and explosives. Large terrorist training camps there have been replaced by small mobile ones, which are still training recruits from around the region. These training bases have even taken on a regional character. There have been reports that cohorts of trainees from the region continue to undergo training in these camps. Jemaah Islamiah (JI)’s leaders are still active in that region and training new recruits for terror actions. JI leaders possibly in Mindanao include Umar Patek and Dulmatin are two of the most wanted man in the international terror and both have multi million dollar rewards for their capture. The Singapore government and US Pacific Commander William Fallon have combined forces to speak out for stronger action to curb these terrorists. The key according to military experts is to cut off the Sulu-Sulawesi smuggling route. Singapore has also suggested greater information and data exchanges of lost passports and shutting down regional terror communication networks including cyberspace websites that broadcast terror message, coded or uncoded. Interestingly, a separate article in ST reported that the internet is spawning terrorism in Europe. Meanwhile, Singapore is introducing new features on their passports to prevent identity thefts, particularly by terrorists. Some of the terrorists on board the planes that attacked the twin towers in Manhattan in 911 had transited through Southeast Asian hub such as KL international airport. Singapore does not want to have a replay of such events. These security measures as well as Mindanao terror advisories were announced at an international conference on terrorism held in Singapore. Sources: Mindanao a weak link in regional terror fight (Straits Times, 13 April 2006) Internet spawning terrorism in Europe (Straits Times, 13 April 2006)