Six coun­tries to fight ISIS in South­east Asia as team

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL -

MANADO, In­done­sia — A six-na­tion sum­mit co-hosted by In­done­sia and Aus­tralia agreed Sat­ur­day to set up a fo­rum to strengthen co­op­er­a­tion be­tween in­tel­li­gence ser­vices to counter ex­trem­ist threats in South­east Asia.

Se­cu­rity min­is­ters and of­fi­cials from In­done­sia, Aus­tralia, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philip­pines and New Zea­land held a one-day meet­ing in Manado, the cap­i­tal of In­done­sia’s North Su­lawesi prov­ince, fo­cus­ing on the Is­lamic State group at­tack on the south­ern Philip­pine city of Marawi.

In­done­sia’s top se­cu­rity min­is­ter, Wi­ranto, said at a news con­fer­ence that the six coun­tries agreed to es­tab­lish the For­eign Ter­ror­ist Fight­ers Fo­rum to strengthen in­for­ma­tion shar­ing and co­op­er­a­tion be­tween law en­force­ment and in­tel­li­gence ser­vices.

The Marawi oc­cu­pa­tion has raised fears that the Is­lamic State group’s vi­o­lent ide­ol­ogy has taken root in the Philip­pines’ restive south and could desta­bi­lize neigh­bor­ing coun­tries. More than 600 peo­ple have been killed in the con­flict, in­clud­ing for­eign fight­ers, and the city has been dev­as­tated by gov­ern­ment airstrikes against the mil­i­tants. In­done­sia and Malaysia also face the threat of cit­i­zens who went to Syria and Iraq to fight with the Is­lamic State re­turn­ing home and car­ry­ing out at­tacks.

“We can­not keep silent be­cause ter­ror­ism has be­come a real threat to hu­man­ity,” said Wi­ranto, who uses one name. “Not a sin­gle coun­try is free from the threat of ter­ror­ism, and there­fore this threat must be faced to­gether.”

He said im­mi­gra­tion pro­ce­dures should also be strength­ened to pre­vent mil­i­tants from trav­el­ing in the re­gion.

Aus­tralian At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ge­orge Bran­dis said in his open­ing speech that the con­flict in Marawi “re­minds us in the most im­me­di­ate pos­si­ble way of the ur­gency and the prox­im­ity of the threat that is faced by all of us.”

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