Kuala Lumpur - The two countries may view the war against terror through different prisms. Still, Malaysia has received kudos from the United States for its role in trying to roll back the tide of militancy in the region.
The US State Department, in its first Country Report on Terrorism 2004, noted that Malaysia had played a key role in forging regional cooperation in the fight against terror, notably through the Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter Terrorism (SEARCCT).
The centre, set up in 2003, focuses primarily on training law enforcement officials in the region. In its report, the US said the Malaysian government had tightened border controls to make sure that suspected militants did not seek refuge within its border.
The Abdullah administration also offered to jointly develop the areas near the troubled provinces and spread progressive Islam to south Thailand.
While the report noted that progress had been made in fighting and preventing terrorist attacks in the region, Southeast Asia continues to be an “attractive theatre of operations" for terrorist groups such as Jemaah Islamiah.
“Investigators indicate that JI is fully capable of its own fund-raising, although it also receives financial, ideological and logistical support from Middle Eastern and South Asian contacts, non-governmental organisations and other groups," the report said.
It added that separatist insurgencies in the Philippines, Indonesia and southern Thailand “contribute to an environment of lawlessness which terrorist groups may attempt to exploit for their own purposes”.
* Anti-terrorism role praised (New Straits Times, May 3)