Top officials seek tougher steps to fight terrorism

They vow to boost enforcement, cooperate in managing borders to prevent terrorist movement

Indonesia Coordinating Minister for Legal, Politics and Security Affairs Wiranto speaks during a conference on counter-terrorism in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on August 10.
Indonesia Coordinating Minister for Legal, Politics and Security Affairs Wiranto speaks during a conference on counter-terrorism in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on August 10. PHOTO: AFP

Top security officials from around the world yesterday vowed to strengthen law enforcement and cooperate in managing borders to counter terrorism that "respects no national boundaries".

More effective management of airports, seaports and other border crossing points is needed, they said, as "the global war on terror enters a new chapter" with growing threats from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremist network.

"Ministers underlined the importance of effective control of states over their borders to prevent cross- border movement of terrorists and their goods, funds and material," said a statement released at the close of the International Meeting on Counter-Terrorism in Nusa Dua, Bali, yesterday.

The officials also condemned the heinous acts of terror that have struck a number of countries, including Indonesia, and reaffirmed their commitment to combat terrorism "in all forms and manifestations".

The full-day conference, hosted by Indonesia and jointly organised with Australia, brought together 140 representatives from 23 countries, including Singapore, the United States, Russia, China and Malaysia, as well as Asean, Interpol and the United Nations.

Among them were the US Department of State's acting coordinator for counter-terrorism Justin Siberell, Singapore's Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam, and Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Indonesia has been the target of several terror threats in recent months, and counter-terrorism police have launched a crackdown on people with suspected links to ISIS.

A Jan 14 terrorist attack in Jakarta killed eight people, and a July 5 suicide attack near a local police station in Solo city killed the bomber and injured a policeman.

Just last Friday, Indonesian police nabbed members of a little-known terror cell called Katibah GR or Cell GR, including its leader who plotted to fire a rocket from Batam at Singapore's Marina Bay.

Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto said officials have "agreed on the importance of prevention efforts across borders in a comprehensive manner".

"These efforts include the prevention of terrorist movement, the abuse of the cyberworld for terrorist purposes, trafficking of weapons and cross-border funding," he said.

"If we do not cooperate, we would be beaten by the terror network."

During the meeting, the officials demanded measures to cull the supply of weapons to terrorists, including small arms, light weapons and deadly materials to build explosive devices.

Officials also raised concerns over the ease of access to information on the Internet, which allows terrorists to spread their propaganda, recruit new members and "lone wolves", and teach them how to make bombs or explosive devices.

They also noted that the advance of information technology could ease the transfer of funds to terror groups to support their cells in conducting attacks in other countries.

"Therefore, ministers are encouraged to strengthen concerted efforts to develop counter-narratives, involving private sectors and civil society while respecting the rule of law and human rights," the statement added.

In his keynote speech, Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla said "terror attacks take lives, impact the economy and hurt a country's image".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2016, with the headline 'Top officials seek tougher steps to fight terrorism'. Print Edition | Subscribe