Counter-terrorism facility opens in S'pore to boost regional cooperation, info sharing

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen (left) opening the Counter-Terrorism Information Facility in Changi on Sept 21, 2022. PHOTO: MINDEF

SINGAPORE - A facility in Singapore for countries in South-east Asia to enhance cooperation in tackling terrorism and to share intelligence was opened on Wednesday. The Counter-Terrorism Information Facility is set up by the Ministry of Defence (Mindef).

"The Counter-Terrorism Information Facility is a multilateral, inter-agency facility that brings together like-minded countries to share intelligence and provide early warning against terrorism in the region," said Mindef.

It added that while much of its operations remains classified for regional security reasons, the facility is crucial to synergising counter-terrorism efforts with the use of collective intelligence and data.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said that the facility’s location is in Changi.

Speaking at the facility's inauguration ceremony, Dr Ng said that the threat of terrorism remains high and increasingly fluid, as terror networks have grown in sophistication.

The facility, which has been in operation since January 2021, was possible only because of the invaluable contributions of all its partners, added Dr Ng. This demonstrated the region's collective resolve to deal with terrorism.

He commended the facility on its achievements in detecting the spread of extremist ideologies in the region, which led to follow-up actions by regional security agencies.

Mindef said that the facility has produced timely "intelligence products" with partner nations. It has also assisted the region in the collective effort against terrorism.

In March 2021, Dr Ng said that combating transnational terrorist threats remains a key focus for the Singapore Armed Forces.

As Asean's collective intelligence and surveillance capability may be a fraction of what the United States and its allies in the Middle East have, the facility was created to close that gap and pre-empt terror attacks, he said then.

The latest edition of the Singapore Terrorism Threat Assessment Report released by the Internal Security Department in July 2022, which takes stock of the security environment here and regionally, said that the terrorism threat to Singapore remains high, as the country continues to feature on extremist propaganda.

The resumption of international travel after the Covid-19 pandemic also raises concerns about how terror plots put on ice in the region may resume, added the report.

Dr Ng said on Wednesday that there must be an expectation for an increase in the influx of returning and foreign extremists to the region now that Covid-19 travel restrictions have eased.

"We must, therefore, redouble our efforts in counter-terrorism collectively. Sharing what we each know will multiply our understanding of regional trends and developments," he added.

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