Indonesia, Australia to work together to stem flow of funding for terror activities

Indonesian Chief Security Minister Wiranto (right) and Australian Attorney-General George Brandis shaking hands during a press conference in Jakarta on Feb 2, 2017.
Indonesian Chief Security Minister Wiranto (right) and Australian Attorney-General George Brandis shaking hands during a press conference in Jakarta on Feb 2, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

JAKARTA - Indonesia and Australia have pledged to work together to stem the flow of funding for terrorist activities, said chief security minister Wiranto on Thursday (Feb 2) after a meeting with his counterparts from Canberra.

"We had discussed at today's meeting how we can further our efforts to curb such flows of funds," said Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, who was responding to a question on how a terrorist money-trail between Australia and Indonesia was detected recently.

"The terrorism funding may flow from anywhere, so we don't want to be trapped in a blame game, making accusations about where the funds came from, we must have a common understanding about the importance of working together to combat these flows of funds," he added.

Overseas fund transfers into Indonesia in 2014 and 2015, which were allegedly linked to terrorism amounted to well over 10 billion rupiah (S$1 million). About 6 billion rupiah of that came from Australia through terror supporters operating under the guise of charities, according to the PPATK, Indonesia’s anti-money-laundering agency.

Fund transfers have been instrumental in financing the trips of Indonesians going to Syria to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and many have not been detected, reported local authorities recently.

Some overseas funds were detected only after they were invested in businesses in Indonesia, according to PPATK. The militant network approached local entrepreneurs, became their partner to help grow their businesses and used the profits to finance terrorism.

Speaking to reporters after the 3rd Indonesia-Australia Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM) on Law and Security in Jakarta, Mr Wiranto said security officials from both countries agree that terrorism cannot not thrive without financial support.

"Our two countries will continue to develop a common understanding on how to locate sources of these terrorist funding," he added. "We have reached agreements on this front, and with current technology, both countries have also successfully managed to block numerous terrorist funding."

Australia's Attorney-General George Brandis, agreed, adding that the issue was the subject of close collaboration between the two countries. "We know one of the most effective way to combat the scourge of terrorism is to attack the funding," he said. "One of the most important items on the agenda of this council today is the on going work between agencies and officials in working together to choke off the flow of funding of terrorist organisations."

Mr Wiranto and Mr Brandis were part of a high-powered meeting in Jakarta, where security officials from both sides met to discuss, among others, issues on counter terrorism, cyber-crime, illegal migrants, and maritime security. The meeting was also aimed at strengthening cooperation on law sector, where both countries agree to overlook on the cooperation among law enforcement personnel.

To formalise the move, the PPATK and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, or Austrac, had also inked a pact on Wednesday to cooperate on the prevention of money laundering and terrorism funding, which covers the exchange of intelligence between the two nations.

wahyudis@sph.com.sg