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Terrorism: Countries need to extend vigilance beyond borders

Updated On: Jul 26, 2005

Singapore - For many countries, stepping up domestic security at their train stations and other strategic locations has become the SOP whenever there is a terrorist attack elsewhere, such as the recent London bombings.

    However, for these anti-terrorism measures to be even more effective, countries will need to extend their vigilance beyond their borders, said security experts.
    Investigations into recent bombings show that a crucial part of the planning, training and brainwashing takes place outside the target location. For example,Southeast Asia's most-wanted bomb-maker, Malaysian Azahari Husin, met some of his lieutenants in Thailand to plan the October 2002 Bali bombings, which left 202 dead. 
    While most countries have already taken steps to protect their key institutions and infrastructure, more needs to be done to increase surveillance, tighten border controls, establish information-sharing networks between countries and destroy networks that terror groups manage to establish, the experts added.
    Mr Dominic Armstrong, director of research and intelligence at Aegis Defence Services, a British private security firm, noted that Changi Airport's "remarkable efficiency" allowed him to clear customs quickly upon arrival. But from a security point of view, he believes that customs officials in Singapore should begin questioning people on arrival on where they are staying, what they intend to do, etc. 
     Dr Zachary Abuza, author of Militant Islam in Southeast Asia, said there is also a need to improve border controls within the region.
     "You can take a plane from Sulawesi where security systems are not that strong and then travel to destinations in the region by being within the system," he noted.

* Fight against terror must cross borders (The Straits Times, July 23)