Australia, South-east Asia must 'redouble efforts to avoid Paris-style attacks'

Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan speaks during an interview in Singapore on Dec 9, 2015.
Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan speaks during an interview in Singapore on Dec 9, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE (REUTERS) - Australia and South-east Asia must redouble efforts to share intelligence and make sure Paris-style terror attacks cannot be replicated in the region, Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan said on Wednesday (Dec 9).

Hundreds of Indonesian Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) sympathisers and some Malaysians and Singaporeans are believed to have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq.

South-east Asia faces the risk of attack when they return, Malaysia has said. "The fact that the national security situation has significantly deteriorated for all of the countries in the region, including Australia, means we need to re-double those efforts," Mr Keenan, who is also Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Counter Terrorism, told Reuters in an interview in Singapore.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the deaths of 130 people in attacks in Paris in November, the deadliest in France since World War II.

Mr Keenan also denounced comments by US Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump, who has called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States following last week's massacre in San Bernardino, California, by a Muslim couple.

"That is entirely the wrong response," Mr Keenan said. "When we look at South-east Asia, we get a good example that we are not somehow at war with a particular religion. And neither do we need to target Muslim Australians or anywhere else in the world."

Australia next week marks the anniversary of a siege in central Sydney in which a gunman with radical Islamist sympathies took over a central city cafe. Two hostages and the gunman were killed when the police stormed the building.