Chapter 2. Country Reports: East Asia and Pacific Overview
Overall, countries in the East Asia and Pacific region continued to weaken the ability of terrorist groups to operate and constrain the activities of large terrorist organizations such as Jemaah Islamiya (JI), Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT), and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). Ongoing concerns remained, however, notably in Indonesia, where terrorist attacks on police continued, and in the southern Philippines, where improvised explosive device (IED) attacks occurred on several occasions in Mindanao and rogue elements of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) conducted a violent three-week siege of Zamboanga City that killed dozens of Philippine Security Force members and displaced thousands. The tri-border region of the Sulu Sea remained an area of concern for cross-border weapons smuggling and kidnapping for ransom.
The Philippine government moved closer to a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) by signing three of the four annexes to the 2012 Peace Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), but terrorist incidents such as bombings and raids were more frequent in 2013 than in the years preceding the signing.
The trend of violent extremists focusing on domestic targets continued in Indonesia, with numerous attacks on police, including a series of separate high-profile attacks in which four Indonesia law enforcement officials were killed and seven were wounded. Indonesia also experienced its first suicide bombing in two years when a motorcycle-riding bomber targeted a police facility in Poso, Central Sulawesi. Challenges presented by overcrowded prisons and weaknesses in correctional facility management and security were highlighted when inmates, including convicted terrorists, escaped in a series of prison breaks.
Malaysia continued its legal reform efforts in 2013, bringing charges under the new Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act of 2012 (SOSMA). Malaysia arrested former al-Qa’ida operative Yazid Sufaat, who was the first to be charged under SOSMA. In Thailand, two Iranians behind a failed 2012 plot, in which explosives were accidentally set off that allegedly were targeting Israeli diplomats in Bangkok, were convicted.
Australia maintained its position as a regional leader in the fight against terrorism and worked to strengthen the Asia-Pacific region’s counterterrorism capacity through a range of bilateral and regional initiatives in organizations such as ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum, and the Pacific Island Forum. The Japanese government continued to participate in international counterterrorism efforts at multilateral, regional, and bilateral levels through the ASEAN-Japan Counterterrorism meeting and the Japan-China Counterterrorism Consultations.
CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU)
Overview: China's cooperation with the United States on counterterrorism issues remained marginal, with little reciprocity in information exchanges. China expanded cooperation with countries in the region, however, and conducted joint counterterrorism training exercises with Belarus, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia. China's domestic counterterrorism efforts were primarily focused on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which China alleges maintains a presence in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of northwest China. China has criticized the U.S. response to acts China characterizes as terrorism, alleging that U.S. expressions of concern over the treatment of China's ethnic minorities and deficiencies in rule of law represent a “double standard” on terrorism. China frequently refers to Uighur activists abroad – including those in the United States – as complicit in supporting "terrorist" activity, but it has not provided credible evidence to support those claims.
2013 Terrorist Incidents: Chinese authorities labeled several incidents of violence involving members of the Uighur minority as acts of terrorism. In general, Chinese authorities did not provide detailed evidence of terrorist involvement, and restricted the ability of journalists and international observers to independently verify official media accounts.
On October 28, a vehicle carrying three members of a Uighur family careened into an ornamental bridge on Tiananmen Square and exploded, killing two tourists, the vehicle's occupants, and injuring 38 others. The Chinese government announced that the incident was an ETIM plot to create instability in the lead-up to a major Chinese Communist Party political meeting. While an internet video by purported ETIM members mentioned the incident, there was no independent evidence to suggest ETIM involvement.
Chinese authorities characterized several other incidents that took place in the XUAR as terrorist attacks. On June 26, 37 individuals were killed – including several police officers – in a reported attack on a police station in Lukqun township, Turpan prefecture, XUAR, that Chinese authorities called a "violent terrorist attack."
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: China's National People's Congress amended the national criminal procedure law to include measures that provide protection for witnesses, victims, and relatives whose personal safety is at risk because of their testimony in cases involving, among other things, terrorist acts. The new legislation, which came into effect in January, includes controversial measures that strengthen Chinese authorities' ability to arrest and detain individuals suspected of "endangering state security or crimes of terrorism." This legislation has been used to detain dissidents, human rights activists, and religious practitioners.
Although China continued to stress the importance of international counterterrorism cooperation, Chinese law enforcement agencies were reluctant to conduct joint investigations with U.S. law enforcement agencies or provide assistance in cases involving suspected terrorists.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: China is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), as well as the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) and the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (EAG) – both of which are FATF-style regional bodies.
In May, the Chinese government announced draft measures for freezing assets associated with terrorist activities, putting into practice the legal framework established by the Chinese government in October 2011 for enforcing UN designations listings. This authority provides the legal basis for the establishment of a national interagency terrorist asset freezing body that, if robustly implemented, should strengthen China's implementation of UNSCRs 1267/1989 (1999), 1988 (2011), and 1373. Additional issues remain to be addressed, including guidance for designated non-financial businesses and professions; delisting and unfreezing procedures; and defining the rights of bona fide third parties in seizure/confiscation actions.
The Chinese government has strengthened its preventive measures to counter terrorist finance, with an emphasis on requiring financial institutions to collect and maintain beneficial ownership information and making Suspicious Transaction Reports more comprehensive. In early 2013, the People's Bank of China published new regulations which require Chinese banks to rate clients' risks based on a variety of factors, including a client's location or nature of business.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Throughout the year, China publicly affirmed its commitment to working with international partners to counter terrorism. China continued to voice support for three UNSC committees – the 1267/1989 (al-Qa’ida) Sanctions Committee, the Counter-Terrorism Committee, and the 1540 Committee. China is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), and in September announced it would increase its involvement in the GCTF's Sahel and Horn of Africa Working Groups. China also participated in the third APEC workshop on counterterrorist finance and the non-profit organization sector in January.
China cooperated with other nations on counterterrorism efforts through military exercises and assistance. In August, China and Russia held joint border security exercises (Peace Mission 2013) within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. In September, China and 18 South East Asian countries participated in a counterterrorism exercise co-chaired by Indonesia and the United States. For the first time in five years, India and China conducted joint exercises in Chengdu (Hand-in-Hand 2013) in November. Also in November, China and Indonesia held their third round of counterterrorism exercises in Indonesia (Sharp Knife 2013).
Hong Kong largely continued its effective security and law enforcement partnership with the United States, including through the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department’s successful joint operation of the Container Security Initiative and through participation in U.S.-sponsored training programs.
In ratifying UN Conventions on terrorism, the People’s Republic of China has specified that the treaties would also apply to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, which has subsequently implemented the Conventions through local law.
Counterterrorism remained an operational priority for the Hong Kong Police Force, as demonstrated by existing policies on prevention, protection, and preparedness. The Police Security Wing coordinates potential terrorist threat information with relevant counterterrorism units. The Police Counter Terrorist Response Unit provides a strong deterrent presence, assisting police districts with counterterrorist strategy implementation and complementing the tactical and professional support of existing police specialist units, such as the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau, Special Duties Unit, and VIP Protection Unit.
Hong Kong’s strategic trade regime buttresses U.S. efforts to restrict the transfer of commodities, software, and technology to terrorist organizations or individuals. Hong Kong law enforcement officers attended U.S.-sponsored capacity building training at the International Law Enforcement Academy on border control, cargo targeting and interdiction, personnel and facility security, and post-blast investigations.
Hong Kong is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the Asia-Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering—a FATF-style regional body—and the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. Terrorist financing is a criminal offense in Hong Kong, and financial institutions are required to continuously search for terrorist financing networks and screen accounts using designations lists provided by the United States under relevant authorities, as well as the UNSC 1267/1989 (al-Qa’ida) Sanctions Committee’s consolidated lists. Filing suspicious transactions reports irrespective of transaction amounts is obligatory, and at year’s end Hong Kong was considering mandatory reporting requirements for cross-border currency movements.
Hong Kong emphasized efforts to engage overseas law enforcement and counterterrorism counterparts bilaterally to ensure effective cross-border action against terrorism and terrorist financing, as well as capacity building. Multilaterally, Hong Kong was a regular and active participant in counterterrorism efforts through the FATF, APG, APEC, Interpol, and other security-focused organizations.
Macau’s counterterrorism cooperation with the United States included information exchange and regular capacity building through participation in U.S.-sponsored training programs. In ratifying UN Conventions on terrorism, the People’s Republic of China specified that the treaties would also apply to the Macau Special Administrative Region. The Police Intervention Tactical Unit (UTIP), which falls under the Macau Public Security Police Force, is responsible for protecting important installations and dignitaries, and for conducting high-risk missions, such as deactivation of explosive devices. UTIP’s Special Operations Group’s mission is counterterrorism operations. Macau law enforcement officers attended U.S.-sponsored capacity building training at ILEA on border control, cargo targeting and interdiction, personnel and facility security, and post-blast investigations.
Macau is a member of the Asia-Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering – a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body – and the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs). Terrorist financing is a criminal offense in Macau, and banks and other financial institutions are required to continuously search for terrorist financing networks and screen accounts using designations lists provided by the United States under relevant authorities, as well as the UNSC 1267/1989 Sanctions Committee’s consolidated lists. Filing suspicious transactions reports irrespective of transaction amounts is obligatory, and at year’s end Macau was considering establishing mandatory reporting requirements for cross-border currency movements. Macau’s $45 billion-per-year casino industry presents significant risks for the movement of illicit funds.
Macau cooperated internationally in counterterrorism efforts through Interpol and other security-focused organizations, including through FATF and APG. Macau’s Financial Intelligence Office pursued Memoranda of Understanding in 2013 to formalize cooperation with other FIUs, including the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
Overview: Law enforcement officials successfully pursued terrorists and disrupted their networks, arresting at least 75 suspects in more than 40 separate raids. Indonesia cooperated on a range of counterterrorism issues with international partners, including the United States. On December 3, prosecutors at the South Jakarta District Court indicted three men on terrorism charges related to a planned attack on the Embassy of Burma in Jakarta in May. Three other suspects implicated in the case face related charges. The men claimed they plotted the attack in response to the violence against the minority Rohingya Muslims in Buddhist-majority Burma.
Violent extremists targeted police throughout the year. Most notably, in a series of separate high-profile attacks in August and September, four Indonesian law enforcement officials were killed and seven were wounded. In August, assailants also shot a prison official in the Central Javanese city of Jogjakarta near a corrections facility; he later died. Also in August, an assailant fired a gun at the house of a police officer in Tangerang, south of Jakarta. Authorities linked the perpetrators in the majority of attacks on police to existing terrorist groups. This continued a trend in which violent extremists focused on local law enforcement officials.
Small bands of terrorists were able to gather covertly in some areas, especially the mountainous area near Poso, Central Sulawesi. In addition, authorities have expressed concern about the smuggling of weapons into Indonesia from neighboring countries.
2013 Terrorist Incidents: In addition to the incidents mentioned above, there were a number of other attacks throughout the year:
- On February 1, residents near Poso, Central Sulawesi found 12 pipe bombs alongside a road. Authorities defused the bombs, noting similarities to explosives created by the Eastern Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT), a local terrorist network led by the fugitive Santoso. There were numerous other incidents where bombs were found in public places, and explosives and weapons were confiscated by police during raids.
- On May 13, two men on a motorcycle threw a pipe bomb at a police post in Tasikmalaya, West Java. One officer was injured in the ensuing chase, and one suspect killed.
- On June 3, in the first suicide bombing in Indonesia since 2011, a suicide bomber riding a motorcycle targeted a police facility in Poso, Central Sulawesi. The bomb detonated about 30 feet from the main gate of the police station; the only fatality was the suicide bomber.
- On July 20, two men launched a homemade bomb at a police post in Tasikmalaya before escaping on a motorcycle. The device, a rice cooker filled with explosive material, nails, and ball bearings, exploded in a low-intensity blast. No one was injured, in part because of the faulty circuitry of the bomb, according to police.
- On August 4, a low-grade explosive device detonated in the Ekayana Buddhist Temple in Jakarta, injuring three and causing minor damage to the building. As in a plot against the Burmese Embassy in May, police suspect that the motivation for this attack was in retaliation for anti-Muslim sentiment in Burma. Authorities said there is no evidence the suspects are linked to established terrorist groups.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Law enforcement officials aggressively and successfully pursued terrorists and disrupted their networks, arresting at least 75 suspects in more than 40 separate raids. In addition, authorities increasingly prosecuted crimes of terrorism under the 2003 counterterrorism law, rather than trying terrorist suspects under other criminal statutes such as those for theft or possession of illegal weapons. In June, the Minister of Law and Human Rights issued a regulation (Number 21/2013) imposing stricter conditions on reductions in prison sentences for certain convicts, including terrorists. The Ministerial Regulation requires that all terrorist prisoners undergo a de-radicalization process before being eligible for a reduction in sentence. Furthermore, the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) must approve the release of any terrorist prisoners.
Detachment 88, the elite counterterrorism unit of the Indonesian National Police, leads terrorism investigations and arrests, and is often able to disrupt attacks before they can be carried out. However, police have difficulty dislodging terrorists from hideouts in remote areas because of terrain and lack of familiarity with local conditions. The BNPT, created in 2010, has the responsibility for coordinating counterterrorism responses among relevant agencies and ministries, but has yet to implement this mandate fully. BNPT officials attributed the lack of progress in many of its plans, in part, to inadequate funding.
Indonesia remained an important partner in the Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program and received significant capacity building training in counterterrorism tactical response and investigative skills. Participants included dozens of Indonesian National Police officers, including members of elite units that regularly conduct operations against terrorist groups in the region.
Although domestic counterterrorism efforts are civilian-led, the Indonesian military maintains counterterrorism units that could be mobilized to support domestic operations if needed. These units train regularly with law enforcement to ensure greater capability and coordination for potential domestic counterterrorism operations. However, the Indonesian military and its counterterrorism units are primarily responsible for external terrorist threats to the archipelago and in certain other specific situations.
Border security remained a challenge. Authorities have the ability to gather biometric data of travelers, but collection procedures vary widely at ports of entry, and it is not clear how data is coordinated and shared among stakeholder agencies. Indonesia has discussed sharing passenger name records with selected countries in the region, but resource constraints and a lack of training for law enforcement and border security officials hampered coordination.
Law enforcement authorities have had significant success in arresting violent extremists involved in terrorist activity, although terrorists’ carrying of firearms and resisting arrest has resulted in casualties during arrest operations. In early January, during a series of separate raids in Central and South Sulawesi and West Nusa Tenggara, police killed seven suspected terrorists and arrested more than a dozen suspects. Authorities believed the suspects had been involved in a combination of terrorist training and funding. On May 8, during a raid in Kendal, Central Java, Abu Roban was killed, and two suspects were arrested. Roban had a leading role in the Abu Omar terrorist group and also had affiliations with the fugitive Santoso’s group, MIT, in Poso. Roban’s group was suspected of participating in a series of bank robberies that helped fund terrorist activity. The group also possessed illegal weapons. In each case, suspects fired on or threw bombs at police officers.
On June 11, Detachment 88 conducted raids against suspected terrorists in Poso, Central Sulawesi, and Makassar, South Sulawesi. The arrest operation resulted in the at least one death and two arrests. On July 22, during a raid in Tulungagung, East Java, Detachment 88 made two arrests and killed two suspected terrorists.
The Attorney General’s Office has a task force devoted to prosecuting transnational crimes, including terrorism. Specialized training for prosecutors who handle terrorism cases is relatively new, however. Ongoing personnel turnover among terrorism prosecutors limits the ability to develop institutional experience and expertise and dilutes the efficacy of training and capacity building efforts. Although Indonesia has a Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK), some trial witnesses complain of intimidation. The LPSK faced both resource and personnel constraints. The ability to testify in trials remotely via Digital Video Conference is not yet regularized. The provision of courtroom security varies from case to case. For example, police protection may be provided for high-profile terrorism cases but the majority of terrorism cases do not receive it. When protection is provided, it usually applies only to the court environs, not to the residences of police, prosecutors, and judges, nor to their transportation to and from their offices to the courtrooms. However, there were no attempted attacks on any prosecutors or judges involved in terrorist trials in 2013.
Through October, the Attorney General’s Office handled 56 terrorism cases in 2013. One high-profile case involved Abu Hanifah, the leader of a variant of Harakah Sunni Masyarakat Indonesia (HASMI), who was sentenced in August to eight years in prison for violating Indonesia’s 2003 counterterrorism law. Hanifah and nearly a dozen affiliated suspects were arrested in October 2012 for plotting to bomb up to 10 high-profile locations, including U.S. diplomatic facilities in Jakarta and Surabaya.
On December 3, prosecutors at the South Jakarta District Court indicted three men on terrorism charges related to a planned attack on the Embassy of Burma in Jakarta in May. Three other suspects implicated in the case face related charges. The men claimed they plotted the attack because they were incensed by the violence against the minority Rohingya Muslims in Buddhist-majority Burma.
The Ministry of Law and Human Rights faced challenges in overseeing overcrowded prisons that house more than 150,000 inmates, including an estimated 260 terrorist prisoners. A series of prison breaks highlighted weak correctional facility management and security. On July 11, in the most high-profile case, prisoners at the Tanjung Gusta Corrections Center in Medan, North Sumatra, set a fire that caused damage to the facilities and destroyed prison records, and killed two guards and three inmates in the chaos that ensued. At least nine terrorist prisoners were among the 212 who escaped during the July 11 riot, including Fadli Sadama, who was recaptured in late November in Malaysia and transferred to Indonesia, according to Indonesian authorities. Three terrorist prisoners involved in this escape were still at large at year’s end. Nusakambangan, an island off the southern coast of Java that houses seven prisons, is considered to have the most secure corrections facilities in Indonesia, but at least three prisoners escaped in November in two separate incidents.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Indonesia is a member of the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Indonesia’s anti-money laundering framework has been significantly strengthened in recent years. However, gaps in the country’s counterterrorist financing laws remain. In February, Indonesia’s House of Representatives passed Law 9 of 2013, “the Bill on Prevention and Eradication of Crimes of Financing of Terrorism,” which became effective in March. Eighteen Indonesian nationals and four entities were on the UNSC 1267/1989 (al-Qa’ida) sanctions list in 2013. Despite the law, and one known attempt to freeze the assets of a convicted terrorist, Indonesia has not frozen any terrorist assets in accordance with UNSCR 1267, 1373, and 1988. As a result, the FATF continued to include Indonesia on its Public Statement list, noting that Indonesia needs to address certain deficiencies in its terrorist finance law regarding identifying and freezing terrorist assets. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Indonesia actively participated in regional and international fora. A founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), Indonesia co-chairs one of the GCTF’s five working groups. Indonesian officials regularly participated in GCTF workshops and shared best practices to help build the capacities of other countries. In September, Indonesia hosted a workshop for first responders to victims of terrorism; and in November, hosted a workshop on “Modern Counterterrorism Policing: Challenges and Responses.” As the 2010-2013 co-chair of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) Experts Working Group on Counterterrorism (EWG-CT), Indonesia conducted one of the largest-ever counterterrorism coordination and training exercises. Upwards of 900 military and security personnel from the 10 ASEAN countries and the eight non-ASEAN East Asia Summit nations participated in the exercise, held in West Java in September. Indonesia is an active member of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Inter-Sessional Meetings on Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC). In 2013, Indonesia began its term as Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Task Force of APEC, and will continue to chair the task force through 2014. Under Indonesian leadership, the task force has been upgraded to a working group and has generated a five-year plan that focuses on the security of supply chains, travel, finance, and infrastructure.
The Indonesian military regularly conducted counterterrorism training with its ASEAN regional counterparts, and occasional counterterrorism training with Australia, China, and the United States.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: At the end of 2013, BNPT, Indonesia’s National Counterterrorism Agency, was in the process of developing a de-radicalization blueprint. As envisioned, de-radicalization efforts would include efforts of the Indonesian government in coordination with civil society organizations and selected academic institutions. In Sentul, near Jakarta, construction continued on a de-radicalization center that authorities expect to open in 2014.
The BNPT opened six additional branches of the Terrorism Prevention Communication Forum, which is now present in the capital cities of 21 of Indonesia’s 34 provinces. Members of each Forum include civic and religious leaders who coordinate outreach, facilitate communication among key stakeholders at the local level, and work closely with communities and families on reintegration programs for released terrorist prisoners.
As part of efforts to counter violent extremist narratives, Indonesia continued to amplify the voices of victims of terrorism as well as former terrorists who have renounced violence. Numerous NGOs and religious organizations sponsored workshops and conferences, emphasizing the need to respect diversity and foster greater tolerance. Indonesia also invited religious leaders, in coordination with civil society and faith-based organizations, to be part of outreach efforts to violent extremists.
DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF KOREA
Overview: The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since the bombing of a Korean Airlines flight in 1987. In October 2008, the United States rescinded 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 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 would not support acts of international terrorism in the future.
Four Japanese Red Army members who participated in a 1970 jet hijacking continued to live in the DPRK. 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. As of the end of December 2013, the DPRK had yet to fulfill its commitment to reopen its investigation into the abductions.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In May, the United States re-certified North Korea as a country “not cooperating fully” with U.S. counterterrorism efforts pursuant to Section 40A of the Arms Export and Control Act, as amended. In making this annual determination, the Department of State reviewed the DPRK’s overall level of cooperation with U.S. efforts to combat terrorism, taking into account U.S. counterterrorism objectives with the DPRK and a realistic assessment of DPRK capabilities.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: The DPRK is not a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) or the Asia-Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering, a FATF-style regional body. North Korea engaged both the FATF and the APG throughout the year and applied to join the latter as an observer, although its application was ultimately unsuccessful. In addition, the DPRK failed to demonstrate meaningful progress in strengthening its anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) infrastructure, its accession to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism in July notwithstanding. Although the FATF welcomed DPRK’s engagement, it highlighted a continuing concern about North Korea’s “failure to address the significant deficiencies in its [AML/CFT] regime,” noting the “serious threat this poses to the integrity of the international financial system.” At each of its plenary meetings throughout the year, the FATF renewed its call on members to “apply effective countermeasures to protect their financial sectors” from the “ongoing and substantial [AML/CFT]…risks” posed by the DPRK. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
REPUBLIC OF KOREA
Overview: The Republic of Korea remains committed to its counterterrorism programs and has maintained strong cooperation with the United States and the international community. The Republic of Korea has not faced any major domestic terrorist threats, and the various agencies with counterterrorist responsibilities have remained vigilant in countering what they perceive as emerging threats, such as potential home-grown terrorism through internet recruitment.
The Republic of Korea is becoming more involved in bilateral and international counterterrorism efforts in response to the growing exposure of its citizens living and traveling abroad. South Korean and U.S. law enforcement agencies worked closely on sharing information on known or suspected terrorists, implementing an agreement passed in 2008 on Preventing and Combating Serious Crime (PCSC), and holding joint investigations on known and suspected terrorist encounters that occurred in the Republic of Korea.
In November, the Republic of Korea and the United States held the Fourth Bilateral Consultation on Counterterrorism, where the two countries shared information on ways to enhance bilateral cooperation and expand South Korea’s multilateral engagement.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The National Assembly failed to pass a comprehensive counterterrorism law, first proposed in 2001, that would have significantly improved the Republic of Korea’s ability to conduct counterterrorist activities. The Republic of Korea derives its authority to perform counterterrorist activities from Presidential Directive 47, which was last revised on May 21, 2013. The revision was mostly administrative and did not add any new authorities.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: The Republic of Korea is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a FATF-style regional body. In accordance with UNSCRs 1267 (1999) and 1373 (2001), the Republic of Korea is tightening its existing domestic legislative framework and administrative procedures to combat terrorist financing. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: The Republic of Korea is a member of the UN, APEC, ASEAN+3, East Asia Summit, Asia-Europe Meeting, Asia Cooperation Dialogue, Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation, OECD, the G-20, and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia. South Korea is also a partner country of the OSCE and NATO. In October 2013, the Republic of Korea hosted the Conference on Cyberspace 2013, where representatives from 87 countries and 18 international organizations discussed how to combat cyber-attacks and the use of cyberspace for terrorist activities.
To promote capacity building abroad, the South Korean government has launched development assistance initiatives in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the West Bank and Gaza, which include contributions to counterterrorism and stabilization programs. Also, various South Korean ministries provide information and communication technology advancement assistance to developing countries that includes programs to counter cyber-terrorism and to build a secure information technology infrastructure.
Overview: Among Malaysia’s most significant counterterrorism developments in 2013 was the arrest of al-Qa’ida operative Yazid Sufaat, the first person charged with terrorism offenses in Malaysia's criminal courts under the Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act of 2012 (SOSMA). Previously, Malaysia had detained suspected terrorists without trial under Internal Security Act (ISA), which was repealed with the passage of SOSMA. United States cooperation with Malaysia on counterterrorism and other transnational security issues continued to improve.
Malaysia remained vulnerable to terrorist activity and was likely used as a transit and meeting site for terrorists. Malaysia is not considered a terrorist safe haven, but some violent extremists have been known to operate and hide in isolated littoral areas of the Sulu/Sulawesi Seas between Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Malaysian authorities cooperated closely with the international community on counterterrorism efforts, and regularly participated in capacity building training programs.
2013 Terrorist Incidents: Malaysian officials described a February/March incursion by armed insurgents into the Lahad Datu region of eastern Sabah as a terrorist attack. On February 11, approximately 250 armed insurgents, calling themselves the “Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo”, invaded the Lahad Datu region asserting a claim to the territory. Malaysian security forces engaged in negotiations with the insurgents in an attempt to end the incursion peacefully, and the governments of Malaysia and the Philippines remained in contact at senior levels. However, after several weeks of negotiations, fighting broke out on March 1 that resulted in the deaths of nine Malaysian police officers, six civilians, and 72 insurgents. On March 5, Malaysian authorities launched additional security operations. Of the 103 detainees resulting from those operations, 30 were eventually charged under Malaysia’s penal code and SOSMA authority for harboring terrorists (Section 130K), membership of a terrorist group (Section 130K(a)), recruiting terrorists (Section 130E), and waging war against the king (Section 121). These individuals were awaiting trial at year’s end. The other suspects were deported, transferred to immigration holds, or released within the 28-day period mandated by the SOSMA. In August, a 61-year-old veteran of the Royal Malaysia Police Special Branch unit was sentenced to seven years in prison under the SOSMA for withholding information linked to the Lahad Datu incursion.
On November 15, gunmen, allegedly from the Philippines and linked to the Abu Sayyaf Group, raided a resort on Pom Pom Island off the eastern coast of Sabah, killing a tourist from Taiwan and taking his wife hostage. On December 20, Philippine authorities recovered her in a forest near the village of Talipao on the island of Jolo. Some media reports indicated she was released in exchange for a ransom payment. On December 2, Royal Malaysia Police announced the arrest of two Filipino suspects in Semporna, eastern Sabah, allegedly linked to the attack.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Royal Malaysia Police Special Task Force (Operations/Counterterrorism) has the lead counterterrorism role. Malaysia’s law enforcement capacity is adequate. Malaysian authorities have made efforts to improve inter-agency cooperation and information sharing. This includes participation in regional meetings, Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) workshops, and training conducted through Malaysia’s Southeast Asia Regional Center for Counterterrorism (SEARCCT).
Malaysian authorities, including the Attorney General’s Chambers, viewed Yazid Sufaat’s case as an important barometer for the application of SOSMA to successfully prosecute suspected terrorists. Sufaat, who was originally detained in December 2001 under the ISA and held for seven years for connections with al-Qa’ida (AQ), was arrested on February 3 under SOSMA, along with alleged accomplices Halimah Hussein and Muhammad Hilmi Hasim. Sufaat, an alleged former bioweapons expert for AQ, whom the 9/11 Commission Report linked to the September 11 attacks, was charged with inciting or promoting the commission of terrorist acts under Section 130G(a) of Malaysia’s penal code. Hussein and Hasim were charged under Section 130G(a) with aiding and abetting Sufaat to promote the commission of terrorist acts and Section 109. On May 20, the Malaysian High Court dismissed the charges on constitutional grounds and released all three. One week after the judicial dismissal, authorities rearrested Sufaat and Hasim on new charges relating to the same criminal conduct. Halimah Hussein fled and at year’s end she remained a fugitive, despite multiple Malaysian operations to find her. On June 18, an appellate court overturned the original High Court dismissal, and reinstated the original charges. At year’s end, Sufaat and Hasim remained in custody, but their trials had not yet started.
In November, in cooperation with Indonesian authorities, Royal Malaysia Police captured convicted terrorist Fadli Sadama, who escaped from Tanjung Gusta Penitentiary in Medan, Indonesia in mid-July. Malaysian authorities transferred Sadama to Indonesian custody shortly after his arrest.
Iranian citizen Masoud Sedaghatzadeh, arrested in Malaysia in February 2012 after fleeing failed bombings in Bangkok, remained in Malaysian custody. A Malaysian court had ordered Sedaghatzadeh’s extradition to Thailand in 2012, but his appeal remained pending at year’s end.
Malaysia continued to implement a fingerprint biometrics system at all ports of entry. Immigration authorities announced in December that Malaysia would implement an Advance Passenger Screening System by June 2014, including a no-fly list to prevent suspected terrorists and transnational criminals from entering or transiting the country. Malaysia has liberal visa requirements and does not require an entry visa for citizens of many countries. In October 2013, Malaysia announced it would reduce the validity of visas on arrival for Iranian tourists from 90 days to 14 days.
In response to the aforementioned Lahad Datu incursion, the Malaysian government declared the entire eastern portion of Sabah, consisting of a 1700 kilometer coastline from Kudat in the north to Tawau near the Indonesian border, as the Eastern Sabah Security Zone. In March the government formed the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM), a civilian-led entity tasked with coordinating the security efforts of 64 military, police, and civilian agencies.
Malaysia continued to participate in the U.S. Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. ATA assistance focused on building Malaysian law enforcement capacity to secure Malaysia’s borders, including air and land points of entry, from terrorist transit. Training included a range of border control instruction, including airport security and fraudulent document recognition. Malaysia also participated in the Container Security and Megaports Initiatives.
The Malaysian Attorney General led a delegation of senior law enforcement and prosecutorial officials on a State Department and Justice Department-funded study tour to the United States which focused on land border and port security, and inter-agency law enforcement task force operations. The State Department’s Export Control and Border Security (EXBS) program and the Department of Homeland Security also provided document analysis training to Malaysian authorities.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Malaysia is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Malaysia’s geography and location make it vulnerable to exploitation by illicit actors. However, Malaysia has a well-developed anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) framework. Law enforcement and customs officials are responsible for examining trade-based money laundering and invoice manipulation and their relationship to underground finance and informal remittance systems.
In response to FATF’s 2012 revised international standards, Malaysia undertook an extensive review of its national AML/CFT framework through the National Coordinating Committee for Countering Money Laundering (NCC). The review, which was ongoing at year’s end, assessed the Anti-Money Laundering and Antiterrorism Financing Act of 2001, as well as analyzed strengthening the NCC as a national body for formulating AML/CFT policy.
In September and October, the Central Bank of Malaysia issued five new AML/CFT guidelines, including more stringent measures to deal with high-risk jurisdictions and enhanced requirements to undertake risk assessment.
In October, Malaysia’s Compliance Officers' Networking Group organized the fifth International Conference on Financial Crime and Terrorism Financing, a two-day event focusing on countering terrorist finance and anti-money laundering. Over 500 people attended the event, including a speaker from the FBI.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm
Regional and International Cooperation: Malaysia actively participated in ASEAN and APEC forums. In June, Malaysia hosted an APEC Counterterrorism Task Force workshop on major events security. Malaysian officials actively participated in GCTF workshops, including training activities on prisoner rehabilitation, international joint investigations, judicial best practices for handling counterterrorism cases, and assistance to victims of terrorist attacks. Malaysian law enforcement officials routinely met with regional counterparts to discuss counterterrorism issues at meetings such as the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime in Vietnam in June.
SEARCCT, which falls under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, hosted 17 training events, including seminars on countering violent extremism; managing terrorist inmates; cybercrime links with terrorism; and chemical/biological/radiological/nuclear response training.
Malaysia continued to facilitate peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). In December the Philippine government and MILF representatives signed the power-sharing annex to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in Kuala Lumpur, an important step toward a final peace agreement to end the conflict which has killed an estimated 150,000 people.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The Prisons Department of Malaysia implemented a three-phased approach to de-radicalizing violent extremist inmates. The first phase includes disciplinary measures. The second focuses on counseling, religious training, and behavioral improvement. The final phase includes job skills development and vocational training to facilitate reintegration into society, and provides prisoners with a modest income for work performed while incarcerated. Authorities also allowed NGOs and religious organizations to engage with prisoners. Malaysian prison officials participated in several GCTF workshops focused on countering violent extremism and the role of religious scholars in de-radicalization.
Authorities worked with religious and social counselors, as well as community leaders and family members, to help released ISA detainees reintegrate into society. Some Malaysian police participated in community engagement activities to promote trust with at-risk communities. SEARCCT, in partnership with the UN Counterterrorism Committee Executive Directorate, organized a workshop on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism through Community Policing.
Overview: The Philippines maintained its strong counterterrorism cooperation with the United States. The ability of terrorist groups, including the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Jemaah Islamiya (JI), and the Communist People’s Party/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA), to conduct terrorist activities inside the Philippines remained constrained. Terrorist group actions included criminal activities designed to generate revenue for self-sustainment, such as kidnapping for ransom or extortion, in addition to bombings for hire. In addition, members of these groups were suspected to have carried out bombings against government, public, and private facilities, primarily in the central and western areas of Mindanao; while others were linked to extortion operations in other parts of the country. Terrorist groups in the southern Philippines actively conducted bomb-making training, small-scale shootings, and ambushes.
The Government of the Philippines continued to implement its 2011–2016 Internal Peace and Security Plan that calls for the transition of internal security functions from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to the Philippine National Police (PNP). The increasing role and capability of the police to maintain internal security in conflict-affected areas will permit the AFP to shift its focus to enhancing the country's maritime security and territorial defense capabilities. To date, however, this transition has been slow and ineffective.
In 2013 the peace panels of the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed three of four annexes to the 2012 Peace Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), which lays out a roadmap to a comprehensive peace agreement and calls for the creation of a new, autonomous Bangsamoro entity to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). However, during the year, rogue elements of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) conducted a three-week violent siege of Zamboanga City, a major city in the southern Philippines, killing dozens of Philippine security forces members and displacing thousands of civilians. Also, a number of smaller armed groups in Mindanao conducted bombings, raids, and kidnapping for ransom with increased frequency compared to the years before the MILF signed the FAB.
2013 Terrorist Incidents: High-profile terrorist incidents included:
- On January 21, a bicycle-borne improvised explosive device (IED) at Lligan City injured10 people.
- On February 4, an IED placed on a parked motorcycle exploded in front of a restaurant at Tubod Lanao del Norte, resulting in five wounded.
- On May 25, ASG militants were involved in an hour-long gun battle near Patikul, Sulu, which killed seven Philippine Marines and injured nine; and killed five ASG and injured 10.
- On June 22, ASG kidnapped two sisters who were filming a documentary on Sulu. They were being held in Sulu at year’s end.
- On July 26, Khalifa Islamiyah Mindanao (KIM) – one of several emerging small violent extremist groups in Mindanao called the Black Flag Movement – was blamed for conducting an IED attack in Cagayan de Oro (CDO) at the Kyla's Bistro in the Limketkai Commercial Center, which killed six and injured more than 40. Most victims were medical practitioners and pharmaceutical sales representatives in CDO for a national medical convention. Components recovered from post-blast investigation indicated a command-detonated IED concealed in a backpack.
- On August 5, a vehicle-borne IED (VBIED) detonated on a main street near the center of Cotabato City, killing eight and injuring 34. The VBIED detonated when the Cotabato City Mayor's bullet-proof SUV neared the site. The Mayor was not in the vehicle, but the City Administrator was. A large fire damaged several buildings and vehicles nearby.
- On September 9, approximately 250 members of MNLF seized several villages and numerous hostages throughout Zamboanga City in Mindanao. The siege lasted three weeks, leading to the deaths of dozens of Philippines Security Forces (PSF) members and 180 MNLF, and destroyed 344,400 square meters of urban space, resulting in over 100,000 evacuees, several thousand of whom remained homeless at year’s end.
- On September 16, two IEDs detonated in cinemas at two different malls in Davao City. Five people were injured. At year’s end, the Philippine government had not identified who was responsible.
- On September 23, members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) attacked Mlang village in North Cotabato, taking more than 20 civilians hostages at Malingaw Elementary School. The attack resulted in the killing of two individuals and displaced more than 2,000.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The 2007 Human Security Act is the principal counterterrorism legislation in the Philippines. The law defines terrorism and provides methods for law enforcement to conduct investigations of terrorist suspects. President Aquino has prioritized the adoption of amendments to the Human Security Act in three main areas: revising the definition of terrorism to conform to international standards; easing strict monetary penalties and prison terms against law enforcement officials involved in cases where individuals are wrongly accused and later acquitted; and removing barriers to support investigations.
Despite those legislative efforts, an under-resourced and understaffed law enforcement and judicial system coupled with widespread official corruption resulted in limited domestic investigations, unexecuted arrest warrants, few prosecutions, and lengthy trials of cases. Philippine investigators and prosecutors lacked necessary tools to build strong cases such as clear processes for requesting judicially authorized interception of terrorist communications, entering into plea bargains with key witnesses, and seizing assets of those suspected in benefiting from terrorism.
The United States continued to work with the Government of the Philippines to investigate subjects associated with the development and operations of a JI training camp in the southern Philippines. The Government of the Philippines has arrested multiple persons with suspected ties to ASG and JI.
- On June 16, the PNP arrested five suspected ASG members and seized numerous IED-making components.
- On July 23, a trial commenced in Cebu City against two members of the MNLF, Ronnie Jammang and Marlon Jilhano, for the IED attack on a U.S. convoy in Kagay, Jolo, in 2009, which killed two U.S. Servicemen and one Philippine Marine. The trial was subsequently postponed for the remainder of 2013 because of a major earthquake that damaged Cebu’s Hall of Justice.
- On November 5, Jabide Abdul, a leader of the al-Khobat Group, which the PNP reports had ties with JI and is believed to be responsible for several bomb attacks in Central Mindanao, was arrested by Sultan Kudarat. Abdul was the subject of several arrest warrants for murder, destruction of property, and related crimes.
The Philippines Antiterrorism Council (ATC) provides guidance to agencies responsible for enforcing terrorism laws. In 2013, the UN Office of Drug Control worked with the ATC to develop a manual on Collaborative Intelligence, Investigation and Prosecution of Terrorism-Related Cases in the Philippines. Coordination between law enforcement, investigators, and prosecutors, however, remained sporadic.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) maintains legal responsibility for ensuring peace and security throughout the county, including arresting terrorists and conducting terrorism investigations. In some of the conflict-affected areas, the PNP has relied upon the Armed Forces of the Philippines to conduct counterterrorism operations. The creation of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) has helped to strengthen law enforcement counterterrorism capabilities; however, the SAF remains a relatively small unit. The SAF has received training through multiple sources including the Joint Special Operations Task Forces – Philippines, and has been designated as a unit that will be given communications equipment through the U.S. Global Security Contingency Fund.
The Philippines remained an important partner in the U.S. Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program, which provided extensive tactical training to PNP officers, including SAF members, to support the transition in the southern Philippines from military to civilian counterterrorism authority. ATA assistance included instruction in areas such as crisis response, hostage negotiation, and explosive ordnance disposal training. The ATA program has also focused on building PNP capacity to conduct counterterrorism-related investigations, including cyber investigations.
The Philippines continued to improve the security of its passports. Beginning in 2007, the Philippines started to issue machine readable passports. Three million non-machine readable passports remained in circulation at year’s end, the last of which expired in 2013. Phase one of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) is complete, and the system has been installed at the NBI’s headquarters. Phase one was the build-out of the physical AFIS facility at NBI HQ and the digitization of 850,000 fingerprint records.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: The Philippines is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. The Philippines has improved its anti-money laundering/counterterrorist finance (AML/CFT) regime. Republic Act No. 10365, which further amended the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, was signed into law on February 15, and took effect on March 7. It expanded the list of predicate crimes under the Philippines’ anti-money laundering regime to include the financing of terrorism (which was made a stand-alone crime under Republic Act No. 10168 – “The Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012”). In June, the FATF recognized the progress that the Philippines has made in improving its AML/CFT regime but noted that the country needed to continue to work on implementing regulations for the casino sector. The country is extremely advanced in the use of cellphones for funds transfer and receives considerable funds from abroad via remittances. Along with trade-based money laundering, these pose possible vulnerabilities for exploitation by illicit actors.
Thus far, the Anti-Money Laundering Council has been able to identify, obtain freeze orders, and obtain forfeiture judgments and writs of execution for bank deposits and real estate assets linked to the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) and the Rajah Solaiman Movement – both listed on the UN 1267/1989 Sanctions List – with a total estimated value of more than US $237,000.
Non-profit organizations are not covered institutions under the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001, as amended. There is no single supervisory authority for entities in the non-profit sector. Monitoring is weak due to insufficient coordination and limited resources of regulatory bodies.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: The Philippines participated in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) and supported the ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Group on Counterterrorism. Through U.S.-sponsored antiterrorism training, the PNP developed contacts with law enforcement agencies in Indonesia and Malaysia. Although the Philippines is not a member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), Philippine officials regularly attend GCTF-organized events.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: The Philippine government continued its counter-radicalization program: Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan or PAMANA (Resilient Communities in Conflict Affected Communities). The Philippines government worked with the GCTF in an effort to apply the Rome Memorandum on Good Practices for Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Violent Extremist Offenders.
Overview: In 2013, Singapore’s bilateral engagement on counterterrorism law enforcement and intelligence cooperation benefited from improved working level dialogue on many of the issues that had previously impeded the development of more strategic and productive agency-to-agency relationships. Of note, Singapore and U.S. law enforcement agencies worked closely to share information on known or suspected terrorists.
As of December 2013, terrorist suspects detained in Singapore included members of Jemaah Islamiya (JI), who have plotted to carry out attacks in Singapore in the past, and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Two persons with links to terrorist groups were newly detained in 2013, including a self-radicalized Singaporean who intended to join the Muslim insurgency in south Thailand and the son of JI leader Mas Selamat Kastari. In addition, the October 2012 detention of one person, a self-radicalized individual, was announced in March 2013. In 2013, Singapore placed four persons on Restriction Orders (RO) and the ROs of two additional persons were allowed to lapse. Detainees placed on ROs are monitored by Singaporean authorities and required to report to authorities on a regular basis.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Singapore uses its Internal Security Act (ISA) to arrest and detain suspected terrorists without trial. The ISA authorizes the Minister for Home Affairs (MHA), with the consent of the president, to order detention without judicial review if it is determined that a person poses a threat to national security. The initial detention may be for up to two years, and the MHA may renew the detention for an unlimited number of additional periods up to two years at a time with the president’s consent.
Singapore’s law enforcement demonstrated the capacity to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist incidents. The Internal Security Department (ISD) provides threat assessments and carries out field investigations of suspected terrorist-related activities or incidents. Law enforcement units displayed coordination, command, and control in responding to threat information affecting Singapore’s security. Singapore’s law enforcement actions included:
- In March, Asyrani bin Hussaini was detained for two years under the ISA for attempting to participate in the armed insurgency in south Thailand. He entered south Thailand illegally to join Thai insurgents.
- Abdul Majid, a member of the militant group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who was detained under the ISA in June 2011, was placed on RO in June 2013. He had undergone military training at the MILF’s Camp Abu Bakar in Mindanao, and helped the MILF procure funds and weapon components. He cooperated in the investigation and showed significant progress in his rehabilitation. He was assessed to no longer pose a security threat that required preventive detention.
- In September, Singaporean Mustafa Kamal bin Mohammad was placed on Restriction Order for two years. Mustafa was a member of MILF in the Philippines and had undergone military training at the MILF’s Camp Abu Bakar and raised funds for it.
- Jahpar bin Osman and Samad bin Subari, both JI members detained under the ISA in April 2005 and July 2011, respectively, were placed on RO in April 2013 and July 2013, respectively.
- The Restriction Orders against two JI members, Arifin bin Ali and Mohammad Sharif bin Rahmat, and MILF member Ahmad Jalaluddin bin Sanawi, were allowed to lapse between May and August. They had been cooperative and responsive to rehabilitation efforts and no longer required supervision.
- Muhammad Hanif Mas Selamat, son of JI leader Mas Selamat Kastari was deported to Singapore from Indonesia on October 30. He remained under investigation for activities “inimical to the security of Singapore.”
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Singapore is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a FATF-style regional body. The country’s secrecy protections, lack of routine large currency reporting requirements, the large scale of its private banking sector and relatively large casino sector pose significant risks for exploitation by illicit actors. There were no assets frozen or confiscated for terrorist finance-related crimes. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Singapore was an active participant in ASEAN and is a member of the Proliferation Security Initiative.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: Singapore maintains a de-radicalization program that focuses on countering detainees' violent extremist ideology. Singapore enlists the support of religious teachers and scholars to study JI's ideology, develops teachings to counter the group's spread within Singapore's Muslim community, and provides counseling to detainees. Religious counseling for detainees continues after release. There were no reported cases of recidivism among the individuals released from detention or restrictive order.
Overview: Counterterrorism cooperation with Thailand remained strong. Thailand engaged with the United States on investigations into Hizballah and Iranian activities after security incidents involving both groups occurred in 2012. While officials have long expressed concern that transnational terrorist groups could establish links with southern Thailand-based separatist groups, there have been no indications that transnational terrorist groups were directly involved in the violence in the south, and there was no evidence of direct operational links between southern Thai insurgent groups and regional terrorist networks.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Thailand incorporated terrorism offences into its penal code in 2003, but most terrorism prosecutions failed to prove the necessary element of specific intent and therefore resulted in convictions for less serious offenses. In early 2013, Thailand passed the Transnational Organized Crime Act, which grants prosecutors the authority to investigate overseas transnational organized crime activities, including acts of terrorism.
Thailand’s law enforcement units demonstrated some capacity to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist incidents. Interagency cooperation and coordination was sporadic, information sharing was limited, and the delineation of duties between law enforcement and military units with counterterrorism responsibilities was unclear in 2013. Thailand continued to participate in the U.S. Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program and received capacity building training in terrorism prevention, detection, and response. ATA training focused specifically on critical incident response, including canine detection of explosives and police first response to terrorist incidents.
Land borders are relatively porous. In May 2012, the Thai government removed the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) from eight ports of entry and installed a locally developed program. As of the end of 2013, the Thai government continued to use PISCES at its main international airport in Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi, while planning for eventual transition from PISCES to the local program.
In August, Thai courts sentenced two Iranian men, one to life imprisonment and one to fifteen years in prison, for accidentally setting off explosives – allegedly intended to target Israeli diplomats – in February 2012. A third Iranian co-conspirator arrested in Malaysia in 2012 was still awaiting extradition to Thailand at year’s end. Separately, a Hizballah operative – who was storing 10,000 pounds of urea-based fertilizer and 10 gallons of liquid ammonium nitrate in a commercial building about 20 miles south of Bangkok when he was detained in January 2012 – was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison in September.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Thailand is a member of the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. In February, Parliament passed the Antiterrorism Financing Act. The new law designated 23 terrorists, whom authorities claim are closely monitored, but the government of Thailand has not frozen any assets under this law or under UNSCR 1267, 1373, and 1988.
In June, the FATF recognized Thailand’s “significant progress” in reforming its anti-money laundering/counterterrorist finance framework. Thai authorities continued to work to address the vulnerabilities the country faces including those faced by a porous border, large scale smuggling, and a growing network of hawaladars – informal value transfer systems.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Thai authorities cooperate regionally and with the broader international community on counterterrorism efforts, including APEC, ASEAN, and the ASEAN Regional Forum.
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism: A range of Thai government agencies, including the Southern Border Provincial Administration Center and the Internal Security Operations Command, continued to organize outreach programs to ethnic Malay-Muslims to counter radicalization and violent extremism. NGOs also reached out to communities in the southern provinces to provide services, identify the underlying causes of the area’s violence, and provide outlets for peaceful political expression.