“The challenge of terrorism demands the broadest possible coalition of nations to put an end to it — not only through sheer force of arms but mainly through a dialogue of faiths, cultures and civilizations that will put the merchants of hate out of business.”
--N. Hassan Wirajuda, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Indonesia,
Statement to the 64th Session of the UN General Assembly
September 29, 2009
The Australian Defense Force boosted its contribution in Afghanistan to approximately 1550 personnel.
The Government of Burma defined almost all anti-regime activities as “acts of terrorism,” making little distinction between peaceful political dissent and violent attacks by insurgents or criminals. The government characterized dissident groups as aligned with terrorist organizations and has used this as justification to scrutinize and disrupt dissident activities. In December 2009, bombs exploded in Rangoon and other parts of Burma. The government attributed the bombings to subversives or insurgents intent on disturbing the stability of the state. Authorities have not made public any evidence of a genuine investigation nor have they identified the specific perpetrator(s). Requests by the U.S. Embassy to view either specific bomb scenes or remaining fragments of explosive devices were consistently denied.
In October, a Government of Burma liaison informed U.S. officials that its Special Branch police had arrested three members of an anti-Burma group that was planning to set off explosives in Rangoon, including targeting the U.S. Embassy. The Burmese liaison advised that the arrested persons were not members of a terrorist organization as defined by the U.S. government. This was a departure from past practice, in which, as noted, the Government of Burma defined all groups allegedly engaged in bombings as terrorists.
Cambodia’s political leadership demonstrated a strong commitment to legal action against terrorists and the Government of Cambodia remained committed to strengthening its counterterrorism capability through training and international cooperation.
In Cambodia, terrorists could attempt to exploit various local conditions – including endemic corruption, poverty, high unemployment, a poor education system, porous borders, and disaffection within the Cham Muslim population, which makes up approximately five percent of the population – to gain recruits, resources, and lines of operation. Although the Cham are not generally politically active, the Cambodian government is aware that foreign terrorists might use Cham areas as safe havens. For example, Hambali, a senior Jemaah Islamiya operative accused of involvement in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings, took refuge in a Muslim school in Cambodia in 2002-2003.
With U.S. assistance, Cambodian authorities monitored computerized border control systems at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports, and at the land border crossings of Poipet and Koh Kong. International ports employed the use of this computerized system, as well as E-passport for Cambodian nationals and VISPEC, which was provided, installed, and trained to Cambodia’s immigration police by the United Kingdom. Although biometric systems were not available in Cambodia, various officials received biometrics training from Singapore. U.S. officials also provided training to Cambodian authorities on financial investigation, methods for countering money laundering and terrorist financing, hostage release negotiations, and terrorist incident management.
In 2009, 70 Cambodian government officials participated in 17 separate Cambodia-based training and workshop sessions hosted by the Australian, German, Russian, and U.S. Embassies. Twenty officials participated in 15 separate overseas training and workshop sessions in the United States, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, Vietnam, Philippines, India, and Thailand, which covered a range of topics, including security, counterterrorism, and investigation of fraudulent documents.
In November, a counterterrorism exercise on Southeast Asian-Japan Maritime Security was conducted in Preah Sihanouk Province under the auspices of Australia, the United States, and the secretariat of the National Counterterrorism Committee.
The Cambodian government continued to make progress in strengthening its counterterrorist finance regime. The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which operated within the framework of the National Bank of Cambodia, conducted on-site examinations of banks and financial institutions and signed Memorandums of Agreements on information exchanges concerning money laundering and terrorist financing with the Bank Nagara Malaysia FIU, the FIU of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, and the Anti Money-Laundering Department of the Bangladesh Bank on information exchange concerning money laundering and terrorist financing.
China continued its counterterrorism cooperation with the United States and other nations throughout the year. In September, the United States and China held bilateral counterterrorism talks in Washington, DC. In June, China and Singapore conducted joint counterterrorism exercises in Guilin. Then in July, China held a joint Sino-Russian counterterrorism exercise in Jilin Province. Finally, in November, representatives from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization attended an international counterterrorism conference in Kyrgyzstan. Additionally, the implementation of the Yangshan Deep Water Megaports project was resumed on July 2.
China’s anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism (AML/CTF) system was significantly strengthened during 2009, although several key deficiencies have yet to be addressed. In July, at the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue held in Washington, DC, the United States and China agreed to strengthen their cooperation on AML/CTF, including counterfeiting. In August, the Securities Association of China provided AML/CTF guidelines to securities firms in China, in an effort to cut off possible sources of funding to terrorists. In November, the Supreme People’s Court released a judicial interpretation that further expands application of the law to specific non-banking/financial institutions and more widely covers terrorist financing activities.
Terrorist financing is a criminal offense in China. However, the government has yet to develop an asset freezing and confiscation regime that meets international standards or that adequately implements UN Security Council Resolutions 1267 and 1373, according to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). In addition, China’s cross-border declaration and disclosure system needs strengthening to better prevent terrorist financing activity. China’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), housed within the People’s Bank of China, worked closely with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in the United States to develop its capabilities. In addition to its domestic collection and analysis activities, the FIU exchanged information with foreign FIUs.
China expanded its role in international efforts to combat terrorist finance and money laundering by becoming a full member of the FATF in June 2007. Since 2004, China has also been a member of the Eurasian Group (EAG), a FATF-style regional body that includes China, Russia, and most Central Asian countries. In December, China hosted the EAG’s bi-annual plenary, providing China an opportunity to enhance its leadership role in AML/CFT issues. Coordination in countering terrorist finance could be further enhanced through China’s membership in the Egmont Group, an umbrella body that coordinates the activities of over 100 FIUs worldwide. Though China has applied for membership in the Egmont Group, political concerns about Taiwan’s participation in the organization have hampered membership discussions.
The East Turkistan Islamic Party (ETIP), also known as the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), was added to the UN Security Council al-Qa’ida and Taliban Sanctions Committee’s Consolidated List of individuals and entities associated with al-Qa’ida or the Taliban in 2002. In April 2009, the Sanctions Committee added ETIP leader Abdul Haq to the Consolidated List.
Human rights organizations have accused China of using counterterrorism as a pretext to suppress Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group that makes up a large percentage of the population within the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of western China. After widespread rioting in urban areas of Xinjiang in July and September, police moved in and arrested more than 200 people according to official estimates, at least 26 of whom have been sentenced to death. The Chinese government claimed that the riots were orchestrated from abroad and therefore terrorist attacks on China.
Formally established in 2002, the FBI Legal Attaché’s Office in Beijing bolsters U.S.-China cooperation on counterterrorism investigations. In 2009, FBI Counterterrorism Division personnel participated in a round table discussion on terrorism issues with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations. FBI personnel also provided a general overview to Ministry of Public Security Terrorism Department personnel on counterterrorism investigations.
Hong Kong’s position as a major transit point for cargo, international finance, and people, coupled with its open trade and financial regime, make it a potential site for money laundering and terrorist financing activities. Hong Kong is a close partner with the United States in the fight against terrorism. The Hong Kong government successfully participated in the Secure Freight Initiative pilot project through its conclusion on April 30. The Container Security Initiative in Hong Kong remained effective, and cooperation with Hong Kong customs officials received continued praise from visiting U.S. government delegations.
Hong Kong law enforcement agencies provided full support and cooperation to their overseas counterparts in tracing financial transactions suspected of links to terrorist activities, and participated in U.S. government-sponsored training on financial crimes and strategic commodity identification, among other topics.
In October, Hong Kong’s police, fire, health, and other government services held emergency response drills simulating chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear attacks. During the Hong Kong-hosted East Asia Games in December, Hong Kong deployed its newly established police Counter Terrorist Readiness Unit (CTRU). In addition to providing a counterterrorist deterrent presence, the CTRU assisted police districts with counterterrorism strategy implementation and provided tactical and professional support to existing specialist units, such as the Special Duties Unit and its VIP Protection Unit.
Hong Kong actively participated in various anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing initiatives, including the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Asia/Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering. Hong Kong is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, reporting through its Joint Financial Intelligence Unit operated by the Hong Kong Police and the Customs and Excise Department.
In response to recommendations stemming from the 2007 FATF and APG mutual evaluation of Hong Kong, authorities are drafting legislation to increase supervision of money changers and remittance agents; create statutory requirements for customer due diligence and record-keeping in the banking, securities, and insurance sectors; and establish civil penalties for these infractions. Legislation to establish government oversight for non-financial professions and to create a cross-border currency reporting mechanism is needed to address additional FATF recommendations.
Macau’s position as a major international gambling center makes it a potential site for money laundering and terrorist financing activities. Macau’s financial regulatory authorities directed banks and other financial institutions to search continuously for terrorist financing networks and accounts using lists of individuals and entities designated by the United States under relevant authorities, as well as the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee’s consolidated list of individuals and entities associated with al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, and Usama bin Ladin.
Macau is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering. In response to recommendations of the APG evaluation, Macau authorities have taken steps to improve compliance with suspicious transactions reporting requirements in banks, casinos, and professional associations, but the threshold reporting limits remain well above international norms. Macau does not have reporting requirements for cross-border currency movements.
In May, Macau joined the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units through its Financial Intelligence Office (FIO), an independent government unit under Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance. The FIO played an essential role in Macau’s Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regime by collecting and analyzing suspicious transactions, providing AML assistance to local authorities, raising the public’s AML awareness, and sharing information with overseas counterparts.
In September, the Macau Monetary Authority (AMCM) strengthened its AML guidelines for financial institutions, money changers, and remittance agents by mandating enhanced customer due diligence measures and the compulsory employment of AMCM-approved AML compliance officers.
Macau cooperated internationally in counterterrorism efforts through INTERPOL and other security-focused organizations within the Asia Pacific Region. Macau’s law enforcement and customs agencies participated in U.S. government-sponsored training in bulk cash smuggling detection, weapons of mass destruction proliferation awareness workshops, and complex financial investigation techniques.
The Government of Indonesia reacted decisively to the July 17, 2009 bombings of the Jakarta Ritz Carlton and J.W. Marriott hotels, which killed nine people, including the two bombers, and injured more than 50 in the first attacks in Indonesia in almost four years.
The Indonesian government’s counterterrorism efforts led to the arrests of 14 operatives and the deaths of nine, including Noordin Muhammad Top, the Malaysian leader of a splinter Jemaah Islamiya (JI) group based in Indonesia. Top was number one on Indonesia’s most wanted list for several years and is believed to have overseen the 2003 Jakarta J. W. Marriott bombing, the 2004 bombing of the Australian Embassy, and the 2005 Bali bombings.
The Marriott suicide bomber entered a private dining room where a breakfast meeting of prominent business community representatives, primarily expatriates, was being held. The bomber set off an improvised explosive device (IED) that killed six people. Approximately five minutes later, a second bomber set off an IED in the Ritz Carlton restaurant, killing himself and two others. An undetonated bomb was later discovered in a J.W. Marriott guest room where one of the bombers stayed during the two days before the attacks.
The level of planning for the attacks, including the planting of a JI operative in the hotels and floral shops for at least two years prior to the bombings, indicated that Top’s network had grown in sophistication. As the investigation developed, it became apparent the network was larger in number and geographical reach than previously thought. The ages of the Marriott bomber and other operatives indicate Top and his associates successfully recruited youths with no previous criminal records. Family links between operatives, including by marriage, were evident throughout the network.
Regarding terrorism legislation, the Parliamentary Commission on Security and Defense proposed revisions to the 2003 Terrorism Law. By the end of 2009, Parliament had not yet begun to review the revisions. It was not clear when they would begin to do so.
One proposed revision to the law would allow a suspect to be detained for two years without trial should his/her activities be deemed an endangerment to Indonesia’s security. Under the current law, the Indonesian police must formally name a subject as a terrorism defendant within seven days after arrest and can then detain them for up to four months without charges.
Another proposed revision to the law would allow the police to crack down on individuals and groups that glorify terrorism and openly preach hatred against those of a different faith. This particular law would target radical clerics who support radical jihad, or war, in their religious lectures.
An additional proposed revision to the law would create a Counterterrorism Coordination Agency composed of governmental and social components, including representatives of most of the Ministries, the Attorney General’s Office, the National Police, the State Intelligence Agency, and the Armed Forces.
The Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Social Affairs would head the body and answer directly to the President. The agency would coordinate counterterrorism policy and activities, and serve as a central crisis center in the event of a terrorist attack. It has not yet been determined whether the agency would have operational capacities. Elements of the agency would also coordinate with the Religious, Education, and Information Affairs Ministries to implement counter- and de-radicalization programs.
A final proposed revision to the law would allow the Indonesian military (TNI) and the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) to work more closely with the police, directed by the Counterterrorism Coordination Agency, to counter terrorist acts.
Regarding developments in terrorist financing legislation, the Indonesian government made substantial efforts to draft effective terrorist financing legislation that meets FATF standards and creates an effective mechanism to freeze terrorist assets pursuant to UNSCRs 1267 and 1373.
An Indonesian interagency team headed by PPATK, the Indonesian Financial Intelligence Unit, drafted new terrorist financing legislation. This draft law addresses criticisms raised in the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering 2008 evaluation of Indonesia, which noted significant deficiencies in Indonesia’s statutory and regulatory framework to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
The draft legislation is a significant improvement over previous terrorist financing legislation, as it creates a mechanism to trace, freeze, seize, and confiscate terrorist assets pursuant to UNSCRs 1267 and 1373, and clarified and broadened the definition of support to a terrorist organization. The draft legislation does not specifically address the use of non-profit organizations (NPOs) and non-governmental organizations to finance terrorism, a sensitive topic. Although PPATK interlocutors assert the draft legislation will apply to non-profits, it is unclear whether there would be political will to apply the legislation to non-profits. The Government of Indonesia initiated a review of its domestic NPO sector in July 2009, as requested by the APG. The review is a key part of the government’s effort to improve regulation and oversight of the NPO sector. To date, there has been only one successful terrorist financing prosecution in Indonesia, a function of poorly drafted legislation and a lack of training for police and prosecutors.
The Victim and Witness Protection Agency LPSK is in the process of developing procedures to assist victims of crime, including terrorist activities, and to shelter witnesses from criminals including terrorist organizations.
The Indonesian government continued programs to counter violent extremism, but concrete, systemic information as to the effectiveness of the programs was not available. The National Police and the Ministry for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs offered counter-violence programs to youth across the country, including sports events, television programs, and traditional puppet shows (a popular cultural practice in Indonesia).
The Indonesian National Police continued its prisoner assistance program to de-radicalize convicted terrorists, primarily with the assistance of two former terrorists, Ali Imron and Nasir Abas, who were convicted for their participation in the 2002 Bali bombings. The program identified individuals who might be open to more moderate teachings and focused on providing spiritual support to the men and modest financial support to their families.
The United States and Indonesia continued to enjoy excellent cooperation on issues related to international terrorism. The Indonesian government has worked closely with the United States on terrorism cases and indicated its interest in ongoing assistance and cooperation. The Attorney General’s Office of Terrorism and Transnational Crime Task Force, which the United States helps support, has successfully convicted more than 60 Indonesian terrorists to date, including more than 40 JI members. Although there is no mutual legal assistance treaty in place, there is considerable sharing of information between Indonesia and the United States, and mechanisms exist for the formal transfer of evidence, with the first two mutual legal assistance requests being executed between Indonesia and the United States in 2009.
Japan bolstered border security and enhanced national counterterrorism measures in coordination with the United States. Japanese immigration officials continued to strengthen their capability to identify suspicious travelers upon entry into Japan’s international airports through fingerprinting and facial image technology. Since the introduction of the Biometric Immigration Control System in November 2007 until October 31, 2009, officials denied entry to 1,465 foreign nationals who attempted to enter Japan using forged or altered passports or re-enter after being previously deported from Japan. Japan’s Immigration Bureau, National Police Agency (NPA), and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Tourism, and Travel coordinated with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on preventing terrorists and other high-risk travelers from boarding commercial aircraft bound for the United States. Japanese officials see the program as a valuable tool to secure travel between Japan and the United States and as an effective way to share information and prevent suspected terrorists and improperly documented air passengers from boarding U.S.-bound flights. During December 2009, DHS and the Japan Immigration Bureau agreed to begin negotiations on an Immigration Mutual Assistance Agreement that would facilitate immigration cooperation between Japan and the United States.
Japan also took steps to strengthen port and shipping security. Under DHS’ Container Security Initiative, Japanese authorities worked with U.S. officials to review ship manifests and to screen suspicious containers bound for the United States. In March, Japan installed radiation portal monitors and began screening containers for the presence of radiological material under the pilot Megaports Initiative Program. In June, Japan and the United States signed a Mutual Recognition Arrangement in Brussels, aligning security standards in both countries’ trade partnership programs. Japan also continued collaboration with the United States on science and technology for homeland security through the U.S.-Japan Framework Initiative for a Safe and Secure Society.
The NPA and the Public Security Intelligence Agency (PSIA) continued to monitor the activities of Aum Shinrikyo, renamed Aleph, and splinter group Hikari no Wa, or "Circle of Light." In January, PSIA successfully filed a request to maintain surveillance of Aleph and Hikari no Wa for an additional three years. PSIA has monitored Aum since 2000 under the Organization Control Law, a measure that allows the Agency to conduct on-site facility inspection and to obtain quarterly operational reports from the cult.
Japan reached beyond its borders to fight terrorism as well. Japan is the second largest contributor to Iraq reconstruction with US$ 1.7 billion in grants, US$ 3.5 billion in concessionary loans, and US$ 6.9 billion in debt relief. Japan remained an active partner in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and a key international contributor to Afghan stabilization and reconstruction. Japan has pledged more than US$ 2 billion in reconstruction aid since 2002 and continued construction on the 114 kilometer stretch of the southern ring road between Kandahar and Herat. In November, Japan announced a new five-year, US$ 5 billion assistance package that included, among other items, continued funding of Afghan National Police salaries, job training initiatives, and employment programs for former lower-echelon insurgents. The Japan Maritime Self Defense Force continued to conduct refueling operations in support of OEF in the Indian Ocean. In April, Tokyo pledged US$ 1 billion for a wide-range of assistance to Pakistan over the next two years.
In December, Japan hosted the fifth annual U.S.-Japan-Australia Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD) Counterterrorism Consultations, as part of the broader TSD, which aimed to coordinate regional activities. Japanese officials chaired a specialist working group on border security and counter-radicalization and took part in discussions on law enforcement capacity building and on ways to prevent chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear attacks. The TSD Consultations followed a TSD Counter-radicalization Workshop Japan hosted in July.
Japan continued to assist counterterrorism capacity building in neighboring countries through dialogue, seminars, workshops, and training. In July, Japanese officials took part in the third Japan-South Korea Counterterrorism Consultations. In August, Japan co-chaired the Fourth Japan-ASEAN Counterterrorism Dialogue in Vietnam. In December, Japanese officials took part in the first Japan-Singapore Counterterrorism Dialogue. The Japanese Counterterrorism Ambassador reaffirmed the necessity of enhancing capacity building assistance to developing countries, strengthening counter-radicalization efforts, and promoting secure trade in the APEC region. In March, Japan hosted the Seminar on Promotion of Accession to International Counterterrorism Conventions and Protocols for the sixth consecutive year. Tokyo promoted information sharing and provided implementation guidance to participants including Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and several members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, among others.
Japan supported regional projects, such as counterterrorism research in Malaysia and terrorist rehabilitation programs in Indonesia, through the Japan-ASEAN Integrated Fund. Over the past few years, Japan has invited roughly 60 teachers from 17 Indonesian provinces and 43 madrassas for the purpose of fostering “cultural understanding” and opening inter-faith dialogue. Japan has expanded the pool of visitors to include Yemen and the Philippines.
Japan assisted third-country law enforcement personnel by dispatching experts and accepting trainees. The Japanese Coast Guard (JCG), for example, provided capacity building services and training seminars to authorities from states that border the Straits of Malacca. Since 2002, Japan has provided training to Coast Guard counterparts from the Philippines and has offered technical assistance to support local police in Indonesia by, in part, introducing the Japanese police box, or koban system.
Japan contributed to counterterrorism capacity building through membership in multilateral fora. In July, Japan joined G8 counterparts in calls to bolster the role of the United Nations; improve information sharing; strengthen the security of land, sea, and air transportation; and support the G8 Counterterrorism Action Group.
Japan undertook measures to combat terrorist financing. Japan cooperated on freezing assets of individuals and entities listed under UN Security Council resolutions to help stem the flow of terrorist financing to al-Qa’ida and the Taliban. Japan expanded the scope of business practices and professions under the Law for Prevention of Transfer of Criminal Proceeds, which requires specified business operators, including financial institutions, to conduct customer identification and submit suspicious transaction reports. Under the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law, Japanese financial institutions must confirm the identity of customers sending 100,000 yen or more overseas. For domestic remittances, financial institutions must identify originators of wire transfers over 100,000 yen (US$ 1,000). Japan’s Banking Law also levies administrative sanctions on financial institutions that fail to comply with anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing measures. In addition, the Financial Services Agency and the NPA’s Financial Intelligence Unit inspect financial institutions for compliance with counterterrorist financing laws and regulations.
In June, the Japanese Diet passed the Payment Services Act, which addresses October 2008 Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Mutual Evaluation recommendations pertaining to customer due diligence and money transfer services. The evaluation had noted several deficiencies, including the low number of money laundering prosecutions, the absence of an established mechanism for freezing terrorist assets that covered domestic funds, and the absence of a requirement for financial institutions to establish and maintain procedures, policies, and internal controls to prevent illicit finance. Japan’s Financial Services Agency must still adopt implementing rules. The Diet also amended Customs Act secondary legislation, which addressed in part the FATF recommendation pertaining to cross-border currency declaration and disclosure.
Republic of Korea
The Republic of Korea (South Korea) demonstrated excellent law enforcement and intelligence capabilities to combat terrorism. South Korean immigration and law enforcement agencies had a strong record of tracking suspicious individuals entering their territory and reacting quickly to thwart potential terrorist acts. Seoul also reviewed and strengthened its emergency response plan and, in accordance with UNSCR 1267 and 1373, further tightened its legislative framework and administrative procedures to combat terrorist financing. For example, the Prohibition of Financing for Offenses of Public Intimidation Act took effect in December 2008 and was intended to implement the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, to which the South Korea has been a party since 2004. Under the Act, funds for public intimidation offenses are identified as “any funds or assets collected, provided, delivered, or kept for use in any of the following acts committed with the intention to intimidate the public or to interfere with the exercise of rights of a national, local, or foreign government.” An amendment expanding the government’s ability to confiscate funds related to terrorism was enacted in March, enabling the government to confiscate not only the direct proceeds of terrorism, but also funds and assets derived from those proceeds. In October, South Korea became a full member of FATF. The accession to FATF will allow Korea, an observer since 2006, to actively participate in the process of setting and revising global Anti-Money Laundering and Counterterrorismm Financing Terrorism (AML/CTF) standards and increase international cooperation.
South Korea supported U.S. counterterrorism goals in Afghanistan by announcing the establishment of a Provincial Reconstruction Team. In addition, South Korea worked closely with other foreign partners and played a constructive role in improving regional counterterrorism capabilities. South Korea continued to participate in the counterterrorism activities of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the ASEAN Regional Forum, and the Asia-Europe Meeting. The Korea Overseas International Cooperation Agency hosted counterterrorism training and capacity-building programs for regional partners in forensic science, prevention of money laundering, and cyber security.
In March, the Counterterrorism Committee Executive Directorate of the United Nations visited South Korea to monitor its efforts to combat terrorism in accordance with UNSCR 1373. The team found that Korea had made good progress with respect to AML/CFT laws and mechanisms to criminalize terrorist financing and freeze funds and assets. In October, the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses hosted the ninth Biannual Symposium of the Council for Asian Terrorism Research, with the theme “Korean Peninsula WMD Threats: Regional and Global Implications.” In November, South Korea hosted the second APEC Cybersecurity Seminar on “Protection of Cyberspace from Terrorist Attacks and Use,” which brought 13 countries together to discuss recent cyber attacks and ways to deal with the challenges of cyber terrorism. In December, the Ambassador for International Counterterrorism Cooperation hosted the second round of South Korea-U.S. bilateral counterterrorism consultations, attended on the U.S. side by the Deputy Coordinator for Regional Affairs of the Bureau of Counterterrorism. Korea also held bilateral counterterrorism meetings with Indonesia, Japan, France, and Germany during the year.
The South Korean government has recently been concerned over the growing number of South Korean citizens abroad who have been victims of terrorist attacks. In March, four South Korean tourists were killed and five were wounded in a suicide bombing in Yemen, for which al-Qa’ida later claimed responsibility. In June, another South Korean civilian working for a medical NGO in Yemen was kidnapped and killed. Although the Yemeni government did not find a conclusive connection to an established terrorist group in that incident, the South Korean government was put on alert and is now exploring various possibilities to prevent future attacks on its citizens.
North Korea (DPRK)
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since the bombing of a Korean Airlines flight in 1987. On October 11, 2008, the United States removed the designation of the DPRK as a state sponsor of terrorism in accordance with criteria set forth in U.S. law, including a certification that the government of the DPRK had not provided any support for international terrorism during the preceding six-month period and the provision by the DPRK of assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.
In May, the United States re-certified North Korea as “not cooperating fully” with U.S. counterterrorism efforts under Section 40A of the Arms Export and Control Act, as amended. Pursuant to this certification, defense articles and services may not be sold or licensed for export to North Korea from October 1, 2009 to September 30, 2010. This certification will lapse unless it is renewed by the Secretary of State by May 15, 2010.
Four Japanese Red Army (JRA) members who participated in a jet hijacking in 1970 continued to live in the DPRK. On June 13, 2008, the government of Japan announced that the DPRK had agreed to cooperate in handing over the remaining members of the JRA involved in the hijacking. However, the DPRK has not yet fulfilled this commitment.
The Japanese government continued to seek a full accounting of the fate of 12 Japanese nationals believed to have been abducted by DPRK state entities in the 1970s and 1980s. The DPRK admitted to abducting eight of these individuals, but claimed that they have since died; the DPRK has denied having abducted the other four individuals. On August 12, 2008, Japan and the DPRK agreed on steps towards the eventual resolution to this issue. However, the DPRK has not yet fulfilled its commitment to reopen its investigations into the abductions. Since 2002, five other abductees have been repatriated to Japan.
Since 2002, the Government of Laos has consistently denounced international terrorism and expressed a willingness to cooperate with the international community on counterterrorism. While domestic opposition elements have in the past employed terrorist tactics, such as ambushing civilian buses in 2003 and bombing civilian targets in 2004, Lao officials at many levels saw international terrorism as an issue of only marginal relevance to Laos. They believed that Laos, as a small and neutral country, would not be targeted or exploited by international terrorists.
Laos does not have a separate counterterrorism law, but the Lao judicial system allows for the prosecution of acts of terrorism as crimes under the Lao criminal code, and Lao officials have amended the criminal code to strengthen counterterrorism sanctions. Laos’ border security was weak; border officials could not effectively control access to the country at any of the country’s border checkpoints. Crossing the border along the Mekong River into Burma, Thailand, and Cambodia could be accomplished easily and without detection. Border delineation remained poor in more remote sections of the country, especially along its land borders with Vietnam and China. It was likely that unmonitored border crossings by locals occurred on a daily basis. Since September 11, 2001, Lao authorities have strengthened airport security, and airport security forces have participated in U.S.-supported security seminars to raise their standards, but security procedures at land immigration points remained lax compared with those of most other countries in the region. In addition, official Lao identity documents, including passports and ID cards, were easy to obtain.
Lao authorities have issued orders limiting the amount of cash that could be withdrawn from local banks or carried into or out of the country and strengthened reporting requirements of state and privately owned commercial banks. Banking regulation remained extremely weak, however, and the banking system was vulnerable to money laundering and other illegal transactions.
The police forces in Malaysia, which fall under the authority of the Home Ministry, continued to conduct all counterterrorism investigations and operations in the country. In 2009, the Prime Minister’s Office created a new office, the Special Task Force (Operations/Counterterrorism), within the Royal Malaysian Police (RMP) to handle counterterrorism-related investigations, a function previously conducted by the RMP Special Branch. By year’s end, Malaysia had not initiated prosecution of any terrorist suspects using legislation amended in 2007 in order to accede to the UN International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, but continued to rely on the Internal Security Act (ISA) to detain terrorist suspects. Under the ISA, the authorities can detain suspects without trial for up to two years, a period the Home Minister can extend in two-year increments.
At year’s end, five terrorist suspects linked to Jemaah Islamiya (JI) were held in ISA detention. This included one well-known JI operative, Mas Selamat bin Kastari, whom the Malaysian authorities detained in April. Kastari had been on the run in Malaysia after escaping from prison in Singapore in February 2008. The Malaysian government has held suspected terrorists and suspected terrorist supporters in ISA detention from one to six years. While imprisoned, these terrorist suspects receive de-radicalization training from Malaysian authorities, and are only released after the government believes they are no longer a threat to society. The authorities continued to monitor terrorist suspects after their release, and imposed restrictions on their activities and their travel. Because of growing domestic and international pressure, the Malaysian government has become more cautious about employing the ISA to detain persons it suspects of terrorist activities, and has been slowly reducing the number of those detained under the ISA. In 2009, the authorities released 39 ISA detainees, 29 of whom were alleged members of terrorist organizations JI or Darul Islam.
The Malaysian government allows travelers from many nations to enter the country without visas, to promote trade and tourism. Persons from most Islamic countries can enter Malaysia without visas, although immigration authorities do scrutinize these travelers and screen for known terrorists. Malaysian authorities will detain terrorist suspects if they become aware of their presence in the country, and have actively cooperated with other countries to deport these suspects.
The Malaysian government engaged with its neighbors, both bilaterally and in international fora such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, on issues related to counterterrorism and transnational crime. It continued to operate the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Counterterrorism. The Center has served to facilitate the training of Malaysian front-line officials, but has done less to identify forward-looking or regional counterterrorism priorities. The organization largely depends on initiatives from donor countries, including the U.S., Japan, Australia, and Canada, to sponsor its training program.
Malaysian mediators continued to work in the southern Philippines to help end the conflict between the Government of Philippines and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Malaysia played an active role in mediating negotiations between the two sides. A Malaysian official served as a mediator between the Government of Philippines and the MILF, and Kuala Lumpur played host to meetings between the two sides as well as to the International Contact Group – a group of four countries, seen by both parties as neutral, which lend their weight to the negotiations. Malaysia, along with Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand, conducts the “Eyes in the Sky” program designed to provide enhanced security to the Strait of Malacca, the world’s busiest shipping lane. Malaysian authorities also cooperate with their Thai counterparts along the border to prevent insurgents from Southern Thailand from using Malaysia as a safe haven.
Malaysia’s central bank has signed memoranda of understanding on the sharing of financial intelligence with the Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) of many countries in the region. Malaysia is an active member of the Asia/Pacific Group Donor & Provider Group for Technical Assistance and has worked with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank, United Nation Counterterrorism Committee Executive Directorate, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Malaysia is working with the United States to help develop an effective FIU in Afghanistan.
Micronesia, Federated States of
The Micronesian Criminal Code contains no counterterrorism statutes. Should the government ever prosecute someone for terrorist activity it would undoubtedly invoke its laws against murder, attempted murder, and destruction of property. The country’s statutes do not outlaw terrorist financing. Law enforcement efforts against terrorism, limited as they are given the region’s lack of capacity, fell within the purview of the Transnational Crime Unit (TCU). Reliant on American funding and Australian supervision since its opening in April 2008, the TCU brought officers from other Pacific island nations to Palikir, the Micronesian capital, to share information on such issues as narcotics, human trafficking, and terrorism. The TCU also exchanged information with the FBI and the Australian Federal Police, making it the recipient of relevant terrorist-related intelligence.
Although there were no known terrorist groups operating in Mongolia and no known bases of support, Mongolian government officials cited more than 6,000 kilometers of porous borders and easy entry for foreign travelers as conditions that terrorists could exploit, and moved to increase awareness of terrorism and to consider new laws. Throughout the year, eight senior personnel attended counterterrorism-related training at the Asian Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu and at the Marshall Center in Germany.
The Mongolian police, the Ministry of Justice, and the General Intelligence Agency’s counterterrorism branch cooperated with their U.S. counterparts on counterterrorism issues. As a result of resource and technical limitations, however, Mongolian counterterrorism law enforcement capacities remained modest.
Mongolia continued to contribute to international counterterrorism efforts. In support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the 130 member Mongolian Expeditionary Task Force and 23-strong Mongolian Technical Training and Maintenance Team arrived in Afghanistan in November. They will provide fixed site security at Camp Eggers in Kabul and artillery training and maintenance at Camp Phoenix. In addition to supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, Mongolia also supported the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. On November 28, the Mongolian Armed Forces deployed an additional platoon of approximately 40 soldiers to support the German contingent in northern Afghanistan. This brings the total number of Mongolians deployed to Afghanistan to almost 200.