Anti-terror effort needs closer cooperation: Nitya
Published on Mar 06, 2007
-Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggram has called for a comprehensive sub-regional and bilateral intelligence networks to curb terrorist activities and to enable the authorities to exchange of terrorism-related information in real time.
Speaking to ministers from Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia at the two-day meeting of Sub-Regional Ministerial Meeting on Counter Terrorism that ends today, Nitya also called for the establishment of a protocol on early warning system to counter terrorist activities and movements.
One of the most disturbing trends, said Nitya, is the use of religion as the pretext to promote their agenda by terrorists. More has to be done to forge understanding and cooperation with religious and community leaders to promote the voice of moderation and culture of tolerance, he added.
Combating terrorism is no longer just a law enforcement matter, he stated.
"It is one where we have to fight the ideas propagated by terrorists with our own ideas based on our values and beliefs," Nitya said.
Terrorist propaganda through the use of Internet was also high on the agenda at the ministerial meeting that ended today. Participants agreed on the need to counters the terrorists' claims as respective states try to win "hearts and minds" from the public.
Besides a more integrated approach that unite government and public sectors to combat terrorism, Nitya called for strengthen of border cooperation to prevent the smuggling of small arms, light weapons and materials that could be converted for destructive usage.
A global framework under the UN is in place to curb the flow of these so-called dual-used materials, as well as small arms, light-weapons, and it is up the governments in the region to apply them in a manner appropriate, Nitya said.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda, in his prepared remarks, called for a more effective way of denying terrorists access to deadly weapons, especially with great killing power.
The two-day meeting was the brainchild of Indonesia and Australia following the Bali bombings in 2002 that ended in the death of more than 200 people, mostly Australian tourists. Known as the Bali process, the forum incorporated the law enforcement component that brings together police chiefs and top counter terrorism officials from each of the country.
Nitya said participants also showed concern over the ongoing violence in the deep south but added that there is a general understanding that the problem is Thailand's internal and that the militants' ability to pull off coordinated attacks does not mean that insurgency has expanded in any significant way.
It is understood that much of the insurgencies in Southeast Asia are based on local and historical grievances and does not necessary fit the definition of international terrorism. Nevertheless, said Nitya, their insurgent activities are disruptive to the state and the society as a whole. Coming together in such a forum such as the Bali Process, he said, permits these countries to share their experience and learn form one another.