Terror groups in Southeast Asia not in one central network
MANILA: Southeast Asian militant groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and the Abu Sayyaf may have links to Al Qaeda but they are semi-autonomous and not controlled by it, an international conference on terrorism said Saturday.
“Religion-motivated terrorists are not members of the same network but link up with each other in Southeast Asia,” a summary report issued at the International Conference on Anti-Terrorism and Tourism Recovery said. Such terrorists may initially operate within the Al Qaeda network of Saudi-born terror mastermind Osama bin Laden but will later work with with local terror groups, the report, quoting the international police agency Interpol, said.
“Terrorist groups form cells that are semi-autonomous and can be replaced by another cell when broken up.” The two-day conference here brought together leaders in both counter-terrorism and the tourism industry in Asia, the United States and Britain following the October 12 bomb blasts on the Indonesian resort island of Bali that claimed more than 190 lives.
The JI, a Muslim extremist group, is suspected of involvement in the Bali bombings and is believed to have a presence in Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, as well as other Asian countries. The Abu Sayyaf, another Islamic militant group, has carried out frequent bombings and kidnappings in the southern Philippines. Both the JI and the Abu Sayyaf are suspected of links to Al Qaeda, which claimed credit for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.
To fight terrorism, the participants called for the creation of structures that would integrate information, intelligence and analysis. —AFP