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Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Transnational Terrorism: The Threat to Australia

Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2004

ISBN 1 920959 04 1

Chapter 5

THE TERRORIST THREAT IN SOUTH-EAST ASIA

South-East Asia: a shared front in the war on terrorism

The terrorist threat in South-East Asia is both widespread and immediate. South-East Asia is a major focus in the international counter-terrorism effort. Australia and the countries of South-East Asia have significant shared interests at stake in the region's successful management of the terrorist threat.

The Bali attack on 12 October 2002 brought home to Australia the global reach of terrorism. It showed a resolve and a level of ambition and coordination among regional extremists that threatens directly the 45 000-plus Australians living in South-East Asia and the many thousands of Australians who visit the region each year.

Bali reminded Australia and the region that we share vulnerabilities and must work together if we are to succeed in countering the terrorist threat. Our collective security is the sum of our collective response. Terrorism strikes directly at the stability and prosperity of our region. It is the enemy of South-East Asia as much as it is the enemy of Australia.

Extremists within South-East Asia do not target Westerners alone. They also seek to undermine the stability that is crucial to the region's longer-term economic interests, particularly its ability to attract foreign investment. Instability would also undermine Australia's major security, economic and diplomatic interests in South-East Asia. We need to do all we reasonably can to help our neighbours defeat terrorism.

Paddys Bar and the Sari Club

Aerial view of the destruction of Paddy's Bar and the Sari Club (Photo: Australian Federal Police)

The Bali tragedy brought us closer to our neighbours. Greater levels of cooperation between governments and security agencies have meant that the perpetrators were - and continue to be - identified, tracked down and brought to justice. But terrorist groups are also cooperating across the region. They are crossing borders. They are using one country to train in, another to raise funds in and another for safe haven. They are working together to maximise the impact of their activities.

Jemaah Islamiyah has shown a willingness and capacity to move around within South-East Asia. It goes wherever shortcomings in effective government control present themselves. It goes where it can operate and train freely alongside other extremist, militant Muslim groups. As is the case with other transnational crimes, combating terrorism demands cooperation and collaboration between law enforcement agencies across national jurisdictions. The terrorist threat in South-East Asia poses a serious regional security problem. It demands a comprehensive and cooperative regional response.

Jemaah Islamiyah: adaptable, resilient and dangerous

At the core of concerns about terrorism in our region is the Jemaah Islamiyah network and its tactical alliances and cooperation with local insurgent and criminal groups. The Bali bombings made it clear that Jemaah Islamiyah is prepared to target civilians. It will deliberately seek to maximise casualties to achieve a more appalling impact.

Jemaah Islamiyah and other regional terrorist elements are highly resilient and can be expected to strike again. The West, including Australians and Australian interests in South-East Asia, will continue to be a target for the violence of Jemaah Islamiyah and other terrorist groups.

Like Al Qaida, Jemaah Islamiyah sees the West - and by extension the citizens of Western nations - as the main source of oppression of Muslims globally. It sees its activity in Indonesia as one part of a global militant jihad.

Economic, religious, entertainment and political targets, especially those identified with the West or Christianity, are high on Jemaah Islamiyah's target list. So are symbols of secularism and democratic change.

While links to Middle Eastern extremist groups, especially Al Qaida, were important in the development of Jemaah Islamiyah, these links are not necessary for it to continue to function as a terrorist group.

Jemaah Islamiyah has enough operatives capable of staging terrorist strikes already on its books. Its commitment to recruitment and training will see its ranks swell. Regional governments, including Australia, have had some success in disrupting Jemaah Islamiyah by increasing security and removing capable leaders. But the Jemaah Islamiyah network is still capable of mounting operations against both 'soft' and 'hard' targets, almost anywhere in South-East Asia. Soft targets include, but are not limited to, hotels, nightclubs, schools, shopping centres, religious institutions and identifiably Western interests including businesses. Hard targets include embassies and critical infrastructure including transport hubs such as airports.

The governments of our own region have disrupted, collectively, the Jemaah Islamiyah network through the capture and detention of over 300 Jemaah Islamiyah members since 2001. They include key operatives such as Hambali and Al-Ghozi, as well as the Bali bombers, including Samudra and Mukhlas.

But we have not disabled Jemaah Islamiyah. Key figures are still at large. And Jemaah Islamiyah remains highly committed to its cause. It is planning for the long term, actively training and recruiting young fanatics in South-East Asia as the next generation of leaders. Jemaah Islamiyah's organisational structure may be hierarchical, but it is capable of adapting to an increasingly hostile security environment in the region. It is likely to look different in five years as it changes in order to resist or circumvent counter-terrorist efforts.

RIDUAN ISAMUDDIN (ALSO KNOWN AS HAMBALI)

Riduan Isamuddin, also known as Hambali, was born in Cianjur, West Java, Indonesia in 1964. The second of eleven children, he graduated from high school in 1984. Around late 1985 he left Indonesia for Malaysia, where he became a protégé of Jemaah Islamiyah founder Abdullah Sungkar.

Hambali participated in the militant jihad in Afghanistan between 1987 and 1989 and became part of Jemaah Islamiyah's 'Afghan alumni'.

Hambali is suspected of involvement in the Christmas Eve 2000 bombings across Indonesia, setting up meetings in Malaysia for two September 11 hijackers, planning the disrupted 2001 bombing campaign in Singapore which targeted the Australian High Commission, and involvement in the 2002 Bali bombings and the 2003 JW Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta. According to detained Jemaah Islamiyah members, Hambali has at different times been the overall Jemaah Islamiyah leader and leader of its Mantiqi 2 (responsible for operations in Singapore and Malaysia). He was also widely suspected of being Al Qaida's South-East Asian operations chief, and certainly provided ongoing contact between Jemaah Islamiyah and Al Qaida.

Hambali was captured in Thailand in August 2003 and is currently in US military detention.

Future trends for Jemaah Islamiyah

The numbers of Jemaah Islamiyah members and supporters are likely to be growing. A steady flow of extremists is being produced by a small number of radical religious schools and through dedicated Jemaah Islamiyah military training. And the high profile of Jemaah Islamiyah's operations will help its efforts to inspire a new cohort of radicals to join the terrorist ranks.

Jemaah Islamiyah has weak spots. Parts of its funding base have been disrupted. It has seen some of its top leaders and operatives killed or captured, and some Jemaah Islamiyah detainees have turned against the organisation. Divisions are appearing within Jemaah Islamiyah over the nature and scale of its terrorist attacks.

But even with these weaknesses, Jemaah Islamiyah can endure and continue its activities. Jemaah Islamiyah operations are not expensive: the JW Marriott Hotel bombing apparently cost well under $20 000. Jemaah Islamiyah has been able consistently to replace fallen or jailed leaders.

Terrorist attacks will continue as long as two things hold true: there are enough members within Jemaah Islamiyah committed to using terrorist methods to advance their extremist agenda, and Jemaah Islamiyah's extensive support network remains intact. Both appear likely.

Jemaah Islamiyah will continue to seek to exploit communal conflict where it occurs in the region. It may even be prepared to provoke such violence. Communal fighting offers Jemaah Islamiyah the opportunity to battle-harden new recruits, validate their terrorist training, and also to talent spot for recruits. It attracts both militant jihadists and donor funds from other parts of the Muslim world. Mindanao and parts of eastern Indonesia and southern Thailand may well continue to be troubled by communal violence over the next few years, despite the continued efforts of national governments.

Jemaah Islamiyah will persist with the types of attacks it has used in the past, including vehicle-based bombs. But it is also likely to add to and vary its repertoire of attacks, expanding the scope of potential targets. That will make its future attacks even harder to predict. The trend toward using suicide bombers is likely to continue.

Even greater collaboration between extremist groups in the region is likely. Jemaah Islamiyah may be trying to expand its network further by courting more actively Thai and Burmese Muslim separatist groups.

MAJOR OPERATIONS ATTRIBUTED TO JEMAAH ISLAMIYAH

  • 2003 JW Marriott Hotel bombing (12 killed)
  • 2002 Bali bombings (202 killed)
  • 2001 Jemaah Islamiyah plans to bomb foreign missions in Singapore and Australia foiledÄ¢ 2000 Christmas Eve bombings of churches in Indonesia (19 killed)
  • 2000 bombing of the residence of the Philippine Ambassador to Indonesia (two killed)
  • Since 1999, participation in sectarian violence in Maluku and Sulawesi

A number of other attacks in South-East Asia have involved Jemaah Islamiyah members acting in concert with other terrorist groups.

Jemaah Islamiyah: catalyst for terrorism in South-East Asia

Jemaah Islamiyah is all the more dangerous because it has developed flexible and mutually supportive links with most other radical Muslim groups in the region - local, sub-national and separatist.

These groups were present in South-East Asia before 11 September 2001, but the catalysing effect of the global militant jihad enterprise has lent them a new and more dangerous dynamic.

Jemaah Islamiyah is able to draw on the widespread resources of the radical Muslim presence in the region to meet its own personnel, logistics and operational support needs. Jemaah Islamiyah now has a high degree of interconnectivity and collaboration between its composite parts, and is able to transfer funds within the organisation to support operations.

Singapore

Singapore was the first country in the region to uncover the Jemaah Islamiyah presence when, in late 2001, it discovered a network of Jemaah Islamiyah operatives planning large scale attacks against Western interests in Singapore, including the Australian High Commission. Its initial detention of Jemaah Islamiyah operatives led to further arrests and the discovery of Jemaah Islamiyah networks elsewhere in the region.

Singapore has maintained an aggressive counter-terrorism campaign. The Singapore Government's robust response to the terrorist threat means that Singapore is a hostile and dangerous operating environment for Jemaah Islamiyah and similar groups.

Singapore remains, however, an attractive target to terrorists, who associate Singapore and its economic success with the West.

The Philippines

The southern Philippines has been a haven for terrorist activity in South-East Asia. The Philippines has been targeted by international terrorism, including Al Qaida, for funding, networking, recruiting and planning since at least the early 1990s. Local insurgency groups have been funded by Al Qaida and by other sponsors of terrorism that have taken up the cause of Muslim extremists in the Philippines. The difficulties of maintaining central government control over parts of the southern Philippines have contributed to its use for terrorist training camps.

Concern is growing about the cooperative relationships between groups involved in the long-standing Muslim insurgency in the Philippines. And an emerging trend is the tactical alliances forming between a broader range of Philippine insurgency groups, including the archipelagic-wide, communist insurgency group, the Communist New People's Army. The main Muslim insurgency groups in the Philippines are the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf Group. A former insurgency group, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) signed a Peace Accord with the Philippine Government in 1996 and is no longer considered a threat.

Growing cooperation among groups in the Philippines has been sparked largely by Jemaah Islamiyah's efforts. Training and logistics remain the focus of Jemaah Islamiyah links with both the MILF and the Abu Sayyaf Group.

The Philippine Government, which is engaged in peace negotiations with the MILF, has acknowledged publicly that elements of the MILF have been developing links to Jemaah Islamiyah. Breaking the Jemaah Islamiyah - MILF connection is one of the Philippine Government's pre-conditions for a peace accord with the MILF.

The capture of key Jemaah Islamiyah members in the Philippines has added to our understanding of the extent of Jemaah Islamiyah - MILF ties. Jemaah Islamiyah member Fathur Rahman Al-Ghozi, captured in the Philippines in January 2002, admitted to participation with MILF personnel in a string of deadly bombings in Manila in December 2000.

The Abu Sayyaf Group's Islamic rhetoric and violence has brought it into contact with Al Qaida and enabled it to attract donations from the Middle East. The Abu Sayyaf Group has been primarily a kidnap-for-ransom criminal group, using Islam and a loose separatist agenda as a justification for its extortion and piracy. But there is evidence that it may be expanding its links with transnational terrorist organisations, and developing its own terrorist repertoire.

The Philippine national anti-terrorism taskforce arrested six Abu Sayyaf Group suspects in March 2004. One of them has since claimed responsibility for the 27 February 2004 Superferry 14 fire that killed more than 100 Filipinos. If true, this would reflect a change in motivation and intent for the group. It would signal a new capability to conduct attacks of a significant scale on 'soft' targets outside Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago. In May 2004

the taskforce arrested an Abu Sayyaf Group financier suspected of arranging finances from Al Qaida for a range of Abu Sayyaf Group operations, including kidnapping of foreign tourists from Sipadan island in 2000 and bombings in Zamboanga City in 2002.

MILITANT MUSLIM GROUPS IN THE PHILIPPINES

The Philippines has a large Muslim minority, concentrated in the south and west of the country. Over the past century Muslim separatist groups have engaged in insurgency and rebellion against the central government.

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) signed a Peace Accord in 1996 and now participates in the democratic process and administers the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. But two hard-line groups still hold out: the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).The MILF was formally established in 1984 as a breakaway faction of the MNLF. It aims to create an Islamic state that would encompass all Muslims in the Philippines.

The MILF has links to Al Qaida through Philippine veterans of the Afghan jihad of the 1980s, who are used as training cadres to develop new members. The MILF has about 12 000 fighters in the field, and while primarily a militant separatist movement, it has splinter terrorist elements that have used terrorist tactics. The MILF leadership has denounced terrorism, and formal peace talks between the MILF and the government are continuing. The prospect of a lasting settlement is uncertain.

The ASG is a violent splinter group which split from the MNLF in the 1990s. Elements of the ASG share Al Qaida's ideology and use similar methods. The ASG's founder, Abdurajak Janjalani, had Soviet - Afghan war experience and led the ASG as a militant separatist organisation, with the goal of creating a separate Muslim state in the southern Philippines.

After the 1998 death of Abdurajak Janjalani the ASG, now led by Abdurajak's brother, Khaddafy Janjalani, deteriorated into primarily a kidnap and extortion criminal group. Hostage-taking, kidnap, ransom and beheading of Westerners have become ASG trademarks. The ASG is very small, with only a few hundred members, but it has mounted attacks across the southern Philippines and in Manila and kidnappings in Malaysia, including of Western tourists. There is more recent evidence that the ASG may be expanding its links with terrorist organisations and developing its own terrorist repertoire.

Operations by the Philippine Government, supported by the United States, have had some success in combating the threat of terrorism in the Philippines.

A new development in the Philippines is the recent evidence of involvement in terrorist activities by some Balik Islam members. Balik Islam, meaning 'returned to Islam', is used in the Philippines to describe Christian converts to the Islamic faith. Many of these converts have worked in the Middle East, notably Saudi Arabia, where they were exposed to more conservative strands of Islam. Only a tiny fraction of the groups that comprise Balik Islam have become radicalised. Of those radical groups it would appear some elements have developed links, including tactical alliances, with other militant Muslim groups in the Philippines and with Jemaah Islamiyah. The man who claimed responsibility for the Superferry 14 incident (before recanting his story), Dellosa, was a Balik Islam convert trained by the Abu Sayyaf Group.

Jemaah Islamiyah has developed close links to the Abu Sayyaf Group. That lends the latter legitimacy as militant jihadists, in the eyes of extremists, making it more than just a criminal extortion group. It appears that Jemaah Islamiyah may also be responsible for encouraging closer relations between the MILF and Abu Sayyaf Group. The Abu Sayyaf Group is likely to exploit its relationship with Jemaah Islamiyah to boost its own profile. The danger is that it may begin to seek out Western targets more broadly in the Philippines, and evolve from a localised separatist-inspired group to a fully-fledged terrorist group.

Thailand

There is a history of insurgent activity in Thailand's south, involving radical Muslim separatist groups, the Pattani United Liberation Organisation (PULO), the Pattani Islamic Mujahidin Movement (GMIP) and the National Revolutionary Front (BRN).

Though there is as yet no evidence that supporters of Jemaah Islamiyah have formed a formal, structured network in Thailand, Jemaah Islamiyah is probably capable of conducting terrorist attacks in parts of the country, including in Bangkok. A number of Jemaah Islamiyah suspects were arrested in Thailand in June 2003 on suspicion of involvement in a plot to conduct terrorist attacks on targets in Bangkok, including embassies.

Jemaah Islamiyah has a relatively new group of sympathisers in southern Thailand who have been prepared to lend support during transits by Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists fleeing arrest, including Bali bombers. Jemaah Islamiyah's operations chief, Hambali, is known to have spent time in the southern provinces.

Coordinated attacks on security checkpoints in Thailand's southern provinces in late April 2004 were an alarming escalation of violence. They came in the wake of the Thai Government's crackdown on southern unrest after an armoury raid in January 2004. A range of local causes appears to have been behind the attacks, which resulted in 112 fatalities, including 107 attackers and five members of Thailand's security forces. Though links to foreign extremism cannot be ruled out, there is no firm evidence linking these attacks to Jemaah Islamiyah sympathisers in Thailand or abroad.

The danger is that the international publicity and attention drawn to southern Thailand by militant Muslim attacks could serve as a beacon for extremists. It could be used to persuade local radicals that their struggle is linked to a broader international militant struggle or global jihad.

There is continuing potential for Muslim extremists to use Thailand and other areas in South-East Asia as a safe haven where they can lie low, launder money or obtain forged identity documents.

Malaysia

Jemaah Islamiyah and the like-minded Malaysian Militant Group (Kumpulan Militan Malaysia - KMM) are recognised as the key terrorist threats in Malaysia. The KMM was formed in 1995 by a small group of Malaysian veterans of the Soviet - Afghan war. From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, when Jemaah Islamiyah was largely based in Malaysia, it established a close network of connections with Muslim extremists in the country, including with the locally-based KMM.

In 2001, before September 11, Malaysian authorities had identified the KMM as a dangerous militant group and had arrested suspected members. Neither Jemaah Islamiyah nor the KMM has conducted terrorist attacks in Malaysia itself. But in 2003 Malaysian police announced the discovery of four tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertiliser that was to have been used by Jemaah Islamiyah in Singapore in conducting terrorist attacks against Western targets.

New allies for transnational terrorism?

Jemaah Islamiyah and other known terrorist groups remain the primary threat to Australia in South-East Asia. But they are not the only potential partner in the region for Al Qaida or another transnational terrorist group.

In South-East Asia, small militant Muslim groups have formed that are not linked in any substantial way either to Jemaah Islamiyah or to each other. There is evidence that physical and bomb-making training has been carried out for such groups by graduates of the Soviet - Afghan war.

Independent militant Muslim groups, propagating extremist views, have been forming in Indonesia since the late 1990s. Their aim has been to involve themselves in local inter- communal conflicts such as the violent and murderous clashes between Christian and Muslim communities in Ambon and Maluku.

Some Indonesian groups, such as Laskar Jundullah, Laskar Jihad (supposedly disbanded) and Mujahidin KOMPAK, have members with military training from Afghanistan or the southern Philippines. They have been influenced by Usama Bin Laden's 1998 so-called fatwa and Al Qaida's incitement to create a theatre for militant jihad in South-East Asia.

The links and affiliation of groups carrying out recent violence in southern Thailand remain unclear. So do those of a variety of smaller militant Muslim groups active in Indonesia and the Philippines. There appears to be a rise in cooperation between local militant groups, suggesting they may be able to operate without relying on a leadership structure. Once these groups enter local conflict areas, larger more established groups like Jemaah Islamiyah may identify and use them or recruit their members.

The danger is that small militant extremist groups with local grievances, and the capacity to wreak havoc, might become attractive to international terrorist partners. The prospect that local and international agendas might fuse means these radical fringe groups are of significant concern. They are a potential threat to Australian interests in South-East Asia.

South Asia connections - Lashkar e-Tayyiba

There is some evidence of links developing between terrorist groups in South Asia, such as Lashkar e-Tayyiba, and South-East Asia. After the destruction of Al Qaida training facilities in Afghanistan, Lashkar e-Tayyiba became a significant provider of militant training to transnational extremist-Muslim terrorists.

Jemaah Islamiyah's links with Lashkar e-Tayyiba in Pakistan and Kashmir are particularly significant for our region. In 2003 a Jemaah Islamiyah cell in Karachi, Pakistan, known as the Al Ghuraba cell, was disrupted. The cell was found to contain South-East Asian university students studying in Karachi. They were being groomed as future Jemaah Islamiyah leaders as part of the organisation's effort to perpetuate itself. They received militant jihad training at camps operated by Lashkar e-Tayyiba in Kashmir.

Jemaah Islamiyah's South Asian connections show how transnational terrorist networking is not a one-way flow. International extremist groups reach into South-East Asia, but groups from within our region can also reach out to connect with counterparts elsewhere.

Regional responses to the terrorist threat

Disrupting the activities of regional terrorist groups like Jemaah Islamiyah is likely to be a long and difficult process. Even though we have made good progress, their defeat will require a sustained effort for the foreseeable future. The willingness of terrorist groups to move around the region as opportunity presents means that in combating terrorism, each country in the region must rely to some extent on the counter-terrorism efforts of its neighbours.

Governments in South-East Asia have taken a number of important steps to combat terrorism and to reduce the vulnerability of the region to terrorism. In Indonesia, the government has enacted new anti-terrorism legislation granting greater powers to investigate and prosecute terrorists. It has also established a financial intelligence unit to identify and restrict the flow of funds to terrorists. The Indonesian police have displayed great determination in tracking down those responsible for the Bali and

JW Marriott Hotel bombings. Indonesian authorities have arrested well over 100 suspected Jemaah Islamiyah members since the Bali bombings. The Denpasar Court in Bali has convicted all 33 of those tried in the Bali bombings trials.

Malaysia has detained more than 100 suspected militants under its Internal Security Act and imposed travel and other restrictions on a number of others of concern. It has amended its penal code to comply with UNSCR 1373 and increased penalties for terrorist acts. In July 2003, Malaysia established the South-East Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT), which focuses on regional training and counter-terrorism capacity-building. The Philippines, which has experienced a number of terrorist attacks, is a strong supporter of the global coalition against terrorism. It has arrested a number of key terrorist suspects, established an inter-agency counter-terrorism task force, and ratified all 12 UN anti-terrorism instruments.

Singapore has continued its vigorous campaign against regional terrorist groups. Since its December 2001 discovery of Jemaah Islamiyah plots to target Western - including Australian - interests in Singapore, it has arrested over 35 people for terrorism-related activities. Singapore has issued Restriction Orders against a further 30 people because of their links to Jemaah Islamiyah and the MILF.

Singapore's comprehensive response to the terrorist threat has included significant augmentation of security and intelligence counter-terrorism capabilities. It has invested in its ability to respond to a terrorist incident, and hardened potential targets.

The Singapore Government provided an authoritative public account of Jemaah Islamiyah through its valuable White Paper on Jemaah Islamiyah and the threat of terrorism, published in 2003. The paper added significantly to the region's understanding of the threat posed by Jemaah Islamiyah and of its methods of operation.

Singapore's counter-terrorism cooperation with other countries has been crucial in developing the region's ability to combat the terrorist threat. Thailand is improving its counter-terrorism capabilities and has strengthened its anti- terrorism laws. The arrest of top Jemaah Islamiyah leader, Hambali, in Thailand in August 2003 was a major success for the Thai authorities. It was a significant breakthrough in the regional campaign against terrorism.

Cambodia is developing a counter-terrorism capacity and is keen to work with regional and international partners against terrorism. In May 2003, the Cambodian authorities arrested four people suspected of being Jemaah Islamiyah members who were planning terrorist attacks in Cambodia. We know Jemaah Islamiyah member Hambali spent time in Cambodia.

Cooperation between regional law enforcement, intelligence and other agencies in South-East Asia has also improved. This increased cooperation has helped to disrupt the activities of regional terrorist groups from Thailand through to the Philippines. The arrests in Cambodia, for example, were the result of collaboration between several South-East Asian countries.

At a regional level, a raft of arrangements and processes aim to strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation between ASEAN members. ASEAN has established over a dozen institutional bodies to boost cooperation in combating transnational crimes, especially terrorism. At the 9th ASEAN Summit in Bali in October 2003, ASEAN leaders signed the Declaration of ASEAN Concord II. The declaration provides that the ASEAN Security Community should use ASEAN's existing institutions and mechanisms to counter terrorism and other transnational crimes.

ASEAN's work on counter-terrorism complements the counter-terrorism initiatives being undertaken in other regional bodies, including the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), APEC and the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering.

But more remains to be done as terrorist groups continue to evolve, transforming themselves in response to government counter-terrorism efforts. Maintaining the political will to fight terrorism is essential. The success of the long-term regional effort to stem the drift towards terrorism and violence will depend on resolute action by South-East Asian governments. Without it, regional terrorist activity will continue. Resolute regional action is also essential to the global campaign against terrorism.

The incubators for terrorist recruits still exist in many parts of the region. Extremist views clearly retain appeal for a minority willing to be recruited to the terrorist cause. Countering these views is an issue not just for governments. Mainstream Muslim groups also have an important role to play in promoting the tolerant message of Islam and marginalising the extremists.

Australia is working closely with regional neighbours to help combat these and other problems contributing to terrorism.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade