IS ‘grow­ing threat’ to SE Asia

In­done­sia, Malaysia, Philip­pines launch joint sea pa­trols

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

WASH­ING­TON, June 19, (AP): South­east Asia’s ji­hadis who fought by the hun­dreds for the Is­lamic State group in Iraq and Syria now have a dif­fer­ent bat­tle closer to home in the south­ern Philip­pines. It’s a sce­nario rais­ing sig­nif­i­cant alarm in Wash­ing­ton.

The re­cent as­sault by IS-aligned fight­ers on the Philip­pine city of Marawi has left more than 300 peo­ple dead, ex­pos­ing the short­com­ings of lo­cal se­cu­rity forces and the ex­trem­ist group’s spread­ing reach in a re­gion where coun­tert­er­ror­ism gains are com­ing un­done.

De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis told Congress last week that a lon­grun­ning US mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion to help Philip­pine forces con­tain ex­trem­ist fight­ers was can­celed pre­ma­turely three years ago. Small num­bers of US spe­cial forces re­main in an “ad­vise and as­sist” role, and the US is pro­vid­ing aerial sur­veil­lance to help the Philip­pines re­take Marawi, an in­land city of more than 200,000 peo­ple.

But law­mak­ers, in­clud­ing from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s Repub­li­can Party, want a big­ger US role, short of boots on the ground. They fear the area is be­com­ing a new hub for Is­lamist fight­ers from South­east Asia and be­yond.

“I don’t know that ISIS are di­rect­ing op­er­a­tions there but they are cer­tainly try­ing to get fight­ers into that re­gion,” said Repub­li­can Sen Joni Ernst of Iowa, us­ing another acro­nym for the group. “We need to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion. It should not get out of con­trol.”

US in­tel­li­gence and coun­tert­er­ror­ism of­fi­cials note that IS has pub­licly ac­cepted pledges from var­i­ous groups in the Philip­pines. In a June 2016 video, it called on fol­low­ers in South­east Asia to go to the Philip­pines if they can­not reach Syria.

About 40 for­eign­ers, mostly from neigh­bor­ing In­done­sia and Malaysia, have been among 500 in­volved in fight­ing in Marawi, the Philip­pine mil­i­tary says. Re­ports in­di­cate at least one Saudi, a Chechen and a Ye­meni were killed. In all, more than 200 mil­i­tants have died in the stand­off, now in its fourth week.

Video ob­tained by The As­so­ci­ated Press from the Philip­pine mil­i­tary in­di­cates an al­liance of lo­cal Mus­lim fight­ers, aligned with IS, is co­or­di­nat­ing com­plex at­tacks. They in­clude the Is­lamic State’s pur­ported leader in South­east Asia: Is­nilon Hapi­lon, a Filipino on Wash­ing­ton’s list of most-wanted ter­ror­ists, with a $5 mil­lion bounty on his head.

US of­fi­cials are as­sess­ing whether any of the es­ti­mated 1,000 South­east Asians who traveled to Iraq and Syria in re­cent years are fight­ing in Catholic-ma­jor­ity Philip­pines. They fear un­governed ar­eas in the mostly Mus­lim re­gion around Marawi could make the area a ter­ror hub, as in the 1990s.

Then, the Philip­pines was a base of op­er­a­tions for al-Qaeda lead­ers like Khalid Sheikh Mo­hammed and Ramzi Yousef, who plot­ted in 1994-95 to blow up air­lin­ers over the Pa­cific. The plot was foiled. But the same men were in­stru­men­tal in the 9/11 at­tacks on the United States.

Other na­tions share the fear. Sin­ga­pore re­cently warned of IS ex­ert­ing a rad­i­cal­iz­ing in­flu­ence “well be­yond” what al-Qaeda and Je­maah Is­lamiyah ever mus­tered. Je­maah Is­lamiyah car­ried out ma­jor ter­ror at­tacks around the re­gion in the 2000s. IS al­ready has been linked to at­tacks in In­done­sia and Malaysia, and foiled plots in Sin­ga­pore, this past year.

This month, Mat­tis told the re­gion’s de­fense chiefs that “to­gether we must act now to pre­vent this threat from grow­ing.” In Congress this past week, he stressed in­tel­li­gence shar­ing and na­tions like Sin­ga­pore

Deng Ming, deputy di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Nar­cotics Con­trol Com­mis­sion, said that U-47700 and three other syn­thetic drugs — MT-45, PMMA, and 4,4’-DMAR — would be added to China’s list of con­trolled sub­stances as of July 1. (AP)

Fight­ing

South Korea scraps plants:

South Korea, one of the world’s largest nu­clear elec­tric­ity pro­duc­ers, will scrap plans to add nu­clear power plants, its pres­i­dent said Mon­day, sig­nal­ing a shift in decades of re­liance on nu­clear en­ergy.

Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in said

shar­ing the bur­den, rather than de­ploy­ing US troops.

TARAKAN, In­done­sia:

Also:

South­east Asian neigh­bors In­done­sia, Malaysia and the Philip­pines launched co­or­di­nated mar­itime pa­trols on Mon­day to in­ten­sify their fight against Is­lamic mil­i­tants who have laid siege to a south­ern Philip­pine city. De­fense min­is­ters and mil­i­tary chiefs from the three coun­tries launched the pa­trols in the In­done­sian city of Tarakan in north­ern Bor­neo, just across the bor­der from Sabah, Malaysia. In­done­sia’s mil­i­tary chief, Gen Ga­tot Nur­man­tyo, said Mar­itime Com­mand Cen­ters were also opened in the cities of Tawau in Malaysia and Bon­gao in the Philip­pines. The in­for­ma­tion and in­tel­li­gence shar­ing cen­ters es­tab­lish des­ig­nated sea lanes for ships in the seas along the coun­tries’ bor­ders to pre­vent Is­lamic State group-aligned mil­i­tants in the south­ern Philip­pines from flee­ing to neigh­bor­ing na­tions. The con­flict in the Philip­pine city of Marawi has raised fears that the Is­lamic State group’s vi­o­lent ide­ol­ogy is gain­ing a foothold in the coun­try’s restive south, where Mus­lim sep­a­ratists have fought for greater au­ton­omy for decades.

Nur­man­tyo said the idea of the tri­lat­eral mar­itime pa­trols was ini­ti­ated by the coun­tries last year to main­tain sta­bil­ity in the re­gion in the face of threats such as piracy, kid­nap­ping, ter­ror­ism and other crimes in re­gional wa­ters.

“This tri­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion is needed to an­tic­i­pate in­fil­tra­tion pos­si­bil­ity of IS-aligned mil­i­tants from Marawi dis­guised as refugees,” Nur­man­tyo said in a speech. Philip­pine mil­i­tary spokesman Brig Gen Resti­tuto Padilla said the co­or­di­nated pa­trols aim to tighten pro­tec­tion along por­ous bor­ders and pre­vent ab­duc­tions at high seas. They will also help pre­vent the move­ment of fugi­tives seek­ing haven in a dif­fer­ent coun­try or plan­ning to pro­vide as­sis­tance to ji­hadists, he said.

He said im­mi­gra­tion pro­ce­dures should also be strength­ened since they are the first line of de­fense in block­ing mil­i­tants who come in through the coun­tries’ air­ports. “The en­emy we face right now is a dif­fer­ent breed, and with the pres­ence of foreign fight­ers in the area — a mat­ter that we are try­ing to val­i­date and prove based on what­ever we re­cover from the field — is part of that con­tin­u­ing con­cern,” he told re­porters in the Philip­pines. He was re­fer­ring to the re­ported pres­ence in Marawi of foreign fight­ers, who he said bring a kind of ter­ror­ism seen in the Mid­dle East but not prac­ticed by lo­cal mil­i­tants.

Thou­sands of troops and po­lice are strug­gling to end the 28-day siege by Mus­lim mil­i­tants aligned with the Is­lamic State group. Of­fi­cials said the fight­ing has left at least 26 civil­ians, 257 mil­i­tants and 62 se­cu­rity forces dead. Mon­day’s open­ing cer­e­mony of the joint pa­trols was held on board an In­done­sian war­ship and was at­tended by se­cu­rity of­fi­cials from Sin­ga­pore and Brunei, who acted as ob­servers.

Au­thor­i­ties in In­done­sia, the world’s most pop­u­lous Mus­lim­ma­jor­ity na­tion, have car­ried out a sus­tained crack­down on mil­i­tants since bomb­ings on Bali in 2002 by al-Qaeda-af­fil­i­ated rad­i­cals that killed 202 peo­ple. In re­cent years, it has faced a new threat as the rise of the Is­lamic State group in the Mid­dle East has breathed new life into lo­cal mil­i­tant net­works and raised con­cerns about the risk of In­done­sian fight­ers re­turn­ing home from fight­ing with IS.

South Korea will move away from nu­clear en­ergy and will not seek to ex­tend the life of ex­ist­ing plants.

He also vowed to cut South Korea’s re­liance on coal. South Korea will shut 10 old coal power plants and stop build­ing more coal power plants.

“So far South Korea’s en­ergy TOKYO, June 19, (RTRS): Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe will likely reshuf­fle his cab­i­net to try to bol­ster rat­ings bat­tered by sus­pi­cions that he helped a friend get favoured treat­ment for his busi­ness, me­dia re­ported on Mon­day.

The Nikkei busi­ness daily, cit­ing govern­ment and rul­ing party sources, said Abe would re­jig his cab­i­net in Au­gust or Septem­ber.

Abe will prob­a­bly re­tain Fi­nance Min­is­ter Taro Aso and close ally Chief Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Yoshi­hide Suga.

pol­icy pur­sued cheap prices and ef­fi­ciency. Cheap pro­duc­tion prices were con­sid­ered the pri­or­ity while the pub­lic’s life and safety took a back­seat,” Moon said at a cer­e­mony mark­ing the shut­down of the coun­try’s old­est power plant, Kori 1, in Bu­san, home to South Korea’s largest clus­ter of nu­clear power plants. “But it’s time for a change.” The speech was Moon’s fol­lowup on his pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns to cut coal and nu­clear power. Green­peace and other en­vi­ron­men­tal groups wel­comed Moon’s an­nounce­ment.

Since the Kori 1 re­ac­tor went on­line in 1978, the re­source poor­coun­try added 24 nu­clear power plants to meet ris­ing de­mand for elec­tric­ity from rapid in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. Last year, a third of elec­tric­ity in South Korea was pro­duced from nu­clear power plants. Its nu­clear power pro­duc­tion from 25 nu­clear plants in 2016 was the fifth-largest in the world, ac­cord­ing to the World Nu­clear As­so­ci­a­tion.

South Korea is also one of the few coun­tries that have ex­ported its nu­clear re­ac­tor tech­nol­ogy, an area once seen by some of its con­struc­tion com­pa­nies as a new cash cow. (AP)

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