Chapter 1. Country Reports: East Asia and Pacific

Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism
Report

EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC

OVERVIEW

Governments in East Asia and the Pacific continued to work to strengthen legal frameworks, investigate and prosecute terrorism cases, increase regional cooperation and information sharing, and address critical border and aviation security gaps throughout the year. Regional cooperation between domestic law enforcement and judicial authorities within countries throughout Southeast Asia resulted in high numbers of terrorism-related arrests and, in many cases, successful prosecutions. Despite these efforts, Southeast Asia remained a target for terrorist recruitment.

The threat posed by transnational terrorism was particularly prominent when ISIS-affiliated domestic groups in the southern Philippines occupied parts of Marawi City for five months before finally succumbing to Philippine counterterrorism forces. Several countries – including Australia, Japan, and the United States – provided counterterrorism and reconstruction assistance to the Philippines as its government began to develop a plan to rebuild the city. Southeast Asian governments remained concerned about foreign terrorist fighters returning from Iraq or Syria and using their operational skills, connections, and experience to launch domestic attacks.

East Asian countries actively participated in regional and international efforts to counter terrorism. Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwan are partners in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. In September, Australia and Indonesia became the co-chairs of the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s Countering Violent Extremism working group.

The Japanese government continued to participate in international counterterrorism efforts in global, regional, multilateral, and bilateral fora. It followed up on the G-7 counterterrorism action plan adopted during its 2016 presidency and completing its second and final year as an elected member of the United Nations Security Council. Japan, with several other countries across the globe – including Australia and New Zealand – is a donor to the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund.

In May in Jeju, the Republic of Korea – with the UN Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate and the ICT4Peace Foundation – sponsored a regional workshop that focused on use of the internet for terrorist purposes, the “Asia Information and Communication Technology and Counter-Terrorism Dialogue.”

China’s counterterrorism efforts remained focused primarily on “extremists” that Beijing ascribes to the so-called East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM). China continued to state that ETIM has influence in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and was responsible for at least one domestic attack. China continued to express concerns that Chinese citizens have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight with ISIS. A message posted by ISIS in March calling for action against unspecified Chinese targets lent credence to China’s concern.


AUSTRALIA

Overview: Australia strengthened counterterrorism laws, investigated and disrupted suspected terrorist plots, and maintained high levels of cooperation with U.S. and international partners. Australia played a major role in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in 2017 and was a leading contributor to coalition military support, humanitarian assistance, and efforts to disrupt foreign terrorist fighters. At the end of 2017, Australia’s National Terrorist Threat Advisory System remained at “Probable.”

On December 20, Australia established the Home Affairs Department, its most significant domestic security and law enforcement reform in decades. Home Affairs combined the existing Department of Immigration and Border Protection with relevant elements of existing departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Attorney-General, Social Services, and Infrastructure and Regional Development. It also drew in the Australian Border Force, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Australian Federal Police, and Australia’s financial intelligence agency, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC). Agencies falling under the Home Affairs portfolio will maintain their operational independence while the Department provides strategic leadership and consistent policy coordination.

Australia is focused on counterterrorism threats in Southeast Asia. In October, Australia announced enhanced counterterrorism assistance to the Philippines, featuring closer intelligence‑sharing, increased bilateral maritime reconnaissance, and facilitation of post-conflict rehabilitation efforts across military and civil spheres.

Foreign terrorist fighters returning to Australia and the role of social media in inspiring domestic radicalization to violence were also chief concerns. Australian security agencies believe approximately 110 Australian citizens remain with terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria. Approximately 40 fighters have returned, and the government estimates between 68 and 85 Australian foreign fighter fatalities. The government is also aware of about 70 children who either traveled with their parents to or were born in ISIS-controlled areas.

Since September 2014, Australian counterterrorism authorities disrupted 14 terrorism plots domestically, and have cautioned that a major terrorist event in Australia is “inevitable.”

The United States worked closely throughout the year with Australia to identify and develop new capabilities that meet a wide variety of requirements for countering terrorist threats. Through a cost-sharing bilateral relationship, both countries advanced their technical ability to defeat or mitigate the evolving capabilities of terrorists and criminal organizations.

2017 Terrorist Incidents: Australia experienced one terrorist-related attack and two disrupted plots. A Somali-born man, who proclaimed allegiance to ISIS and al-Qa’ida, shot one woman to death and took another hostage before police killed him in a standoff.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Australia continued to apply its comprehensive counterterrorism legislation against domestic threats and passed additional legislation to strengthen national security protections. In July, Prime Minister Turnbull announced the implementation of a new Department of Home Affairs by mid-2018, calling it “the most significant reform” in four decades. The Office of Prime Minister and Cabinet stood up a task force to manage ministerial portfolio and statutory realignments of several entities, including the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the Attorney General’s Department, and the Australian Security and Intelligence Organization.

In August, the Australia-New Zealand Counterterrorism Committee released its Strategy for Protecting Crowded Places from Terrorism, drawing on expertise from the Crowded Places Advisory Group, comprising representatives from law enforcement, intelligence, and business sectors.

Coordination among states and territories and between agencies is strong and cooperative. In October, Australia released its fourth National Counterterrorism Plan, outlining national, state, and territory responsibilities. Almost simultaneously, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) committed to a raft of national counterterrorism measures, including nationwide leveraging of state biometric information, expansion of the national emergency warning system, and increasing the pre-charge detention hold period to 14 days for suspected terrorists. COAG also agreed to develop new Commonwealth criminal penalties for those possessing “terrorist material” and perpetrating terrorist hoaxes, such as false online warnings of impending threats.

Significant law enforcement actions in 2017 included:

  • In February, an Australian man in New South Wales was arrested for assisting ISIS to develop laser missile technology.
  • In July, police charged four Lebanese men in an ISIS-linked plot to bring down a commercial airliner with an improvised explosive device.
  • In November, police arrested a Somali-Australian man for attempting to obtain an automatic rifle to kill holiday revelers in Melbourne.

Australia’s border security remained robust. Australia is a leader in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum (ARF), in which it raised concerns about traveler data, cargo and aviation security, developed mitigation strategies, and expanded regional information sharing on threats. Australia announced in November that Australian citizens would no longer face penalties for traveling to or remaining in Raqqa without a legitimate purpose, but emphasized that providing support to any listed terrorist organization remains a punishable offense. Approximately 219 Australian passports have been cancelled in relation to the Iraq and Syria conflict.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Australia is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), co-chair of the Asia/Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering, and a member of the APG’s Mutual Evaluation Working Group. Its financial intelligence agency is a member of the Egmont Group. Australia also chairs or co-chairs the Egmont Group’s Information Exchange Working Group and the FATF Risks, Trends, and Methods Group.

Australia remained a regional and global leader in countering terrorist financing. During the Australian fiscal year (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017), AUSTRAC (Australian Reports and Analysis Centre) reported 3,255 exchanges of financial intelligence with international partners. AUSTRAC attributes the nearly doubling of exchanges over the previous fiscal year to terrorist finance concerns. AUSTRAC also applied rigorous detection, monitoring, and alerting to triage over 74,000 Suspicious Matter Reports, an amount comparable to the previous year. In August, AUSTRAC published a 600-page report accusing Australia’s largest bank of breaching anti-money laundering and terrorist finance laws nearly 54,000 times between 2012 and 2015. On December 15, AUSTRAC expanded its regulatory probe by filing 100 new allegations against the bank, saying that the alleged breaches reflect “systematic non-compliance” stemming from at least three years of failure to report anonymous cash deposits exceeding US $7,800.

On December 18, days after passing the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Amendment Bill 2017, to close gaps in e-currency regulation and investigatory reach, Australia announced it would also dedicate an additional US $33.7 million to help AUSTRAC strengthen its non-compliance enforcement. The following day, Australia redirected US $4.3 million retrieved from proceeds of crime to expand AUSTRAC’s overseas presence from Indonesia and the Philippines to China, Malaysia, Singapore, the Middle East, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

In November, Australia co-hosted the third Counterterrorism Financing Summit with Indonesia and Malaysia, attended by 445 representatives from 32 countries. Australia will assist a resultant multilateral financial intelligence exercise to jointly analyze suspicious financial activities of individuals operating outside their ordinary countries of residence.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): The Australian Attorney General’s Department (AGD) remained the lead coordinator for national CVE efforts. The AGD continued to focus on four overlapping streams that build strength in diversity and social participation, target work with vulnerable communities and institutions, address online terrorist propaganda, and assist diversion and de-radicalization. Additionally, Australia is a donor to the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund.

International and Regional Cooperation: Australia is a member of the United Nations, ASEAN, ARF, the Pacific Island Forum, the East Asia Summit, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Global Counterterrorism Forum, and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Australia is the chair of the APEC Counter-Terrorism working group for 2017-2018.

Australia remains focused on counterterrorism threats in Southeast Asia and in October committed the Australian Federal Police to help rebuild Philippine counterterrorism capabilities post-Marawi with training and joint maritime patrols. Australia will also add 20 staff to its embassy in Manila.

In November, Australia hosted the United States and Japan at the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue Counterterrorism Consultations. Outcomes included coordinated support to Southeast Asian countries on expanding INTERPOL connectivity and border security, and support for Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund expansion to the Philippines. In December, Australia co-sponsored UN Security Council resolution 2396 on returning and relocating foreign terrorist ‎fighters.


CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU)

Overview: Referring to “terrorism, separatism, and extremism” as “three evil forces” that threaten domestic stability, China continued enhancing domestic counterterrorism efforts and called for greater regional cooperation to combat terrorism. During March-April, China initiated a major security campaign in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) that targeted Uighur and other Muslim ethnic groups and was reportedly aimed at rooting out what officials describe as “separatist, extremist, and terrorist activity.” The campaign included detentions widely reported to number in the thousands, along with intensified use of traditional policing measures, the deployment of high-tech surveillance and monitoring systems, the involuntary collection of DNA and other biometric data, and the closure of mosques.

China’s primary counterterrorism focus remained on ethnic Uighur extremists Beijing ascribes to the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM). China maintains that ETIM is responsible for much of the violence in the XUAR, despite a lack of independent information that ETIM is active in China. China’s response to the threat of terrorism remained difficult to distinguish from its suppression of activities its leadership deems separatist in nature or politically subversive to the Chinese Community Party. In response to alleged separatist or subversive concerns, China intensified its security and surveillance in the XUAR, including the implementation of stricter security controls, restrictions on travel, and curbs on religious practice.

There were signs that ISIS posed a threat to China and its interests abroad, and the Chinese government reported that some Chinese citizens have joined ISIS and other terrorist organizations in the Middle East. China also issued public statements warning of growing threats to Chinese nationals abroad. In March, ISIS released a half-hour video in which it pledged to attack unspecified Chinese targets.

2017 Terrorist Incidents: The Chinese government claimed its escalated security and surveillance policies reduced the number of what it considered terrorist-related incidents in the XUAR. Details about alleged terrorism-related incidents inside China were difficult to verify due to a lack of transparency and information from the Chinese authorities. China also impeded third party efforts to independently verify state media accounts, which are often the only source of reporting on incidents on Chinese territory. In addition, requests by U.S. law enforcement officials for information on terrorist incidents from Chinese officials went largely unanswered.

Incidents described by the government as terrorism-related included:

  • In February, three attackers alleged to be Uighurs detonated a homemade explosive device and killed five residents outside a government compound near Pishan County in the XUAR.
  • In June, Islamic State’s Khorasan Province executed two Chinese nationals who had been kidnapped in May in southwestern Pakistan.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: China continued to enhance surveillance and security throughout the country, sometimes citing the Counterterrorism, National Security, Counter-Espionage, and Cyber-Security laws. The 2017 Supreme People’s Court report departed from past practice by not reporting the number of individuals convicted in 2016 on terrorism-related charges. Nevertheless, publicly available verdicts related to terrorism prosecutions in 2016 indicate that efforts to implement the Counterterrorism Law have focused on punishing the possession or distribution of materials that authorities deemed “fake terrorism information” or “terrorist” or “extremist” in nature. Specifically, the individuals in these cases were convicted of possessing, accessing, and distributing terrorism-related video or audio material. The implementation of the Counterterrorism Law has also focused on punishing hotels and courier services for failing to comply with “real name registration” requirements.

Lawmakers in XUAR passed a regional Anti-Religious Extremism Law in March. The law prohibits advocating or propagating what it considers “extremist” thoughts and publishing, downloading, sharing, or reading articles and audio-video material containing “extremist” content. The law also criminalizes the wearing of long beards and other practices. There were also reports that authorities compelled Uighurs and other minorities to return to the locality listed on their identification documents and that authorities confiscated the passports of members of ethnic minorities and restricted them from leaving the country. Citing terrorism concerns, authorities required some vehicles in the XUAR to install mandatory satellite tracking and required all residents there to install a surveillance “app” that automatically detects “terrorist and illegal” religious videos, images, e-books, and electronic documents on smart phones. The app reportedly has the capability to remotely delete this content. The government’s broad definitions of “terrorism” and “extremism” and its unclear definition of “fake terrorism information” continued to raise human rights concerns. We refer you to the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for further information.

Beyond China’s borders, China pursued security and counterterrorism cooperation with countries that drew a similarly broad definition of “extremism” and raised human rights concerns. For example, Egyptian authorities arrested and deported at least 34 Chinese-nationality Uighurs in July, reportedly following a Chinese government order that Uighur students in Egypt return to China. Those Uighurs who returned were reportedly sent to re-education camps, where at least two have died. Also, Chinese authorities confirmed in December they were monitoring some international Twitter accounts allegedly linked to ETIM. In another incident, Italian authorities detained a Uighur activist with German citizenship, preventing him from delivering a scheduled speech about human rights in the XUAR. This detention was allegedly responding to an INTERPOL Red Notice.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: China is a member of the Financial Action Task Force, the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, and the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing. Based on current law enforcement investigations, the United States is concerned that China does not adequately control terrorist financing. Chinese law enforcement claims to have limited ability to freeze funds and investigate banking transactions. Additional concerns include a lack of guidance for designated non-financial businesses and professions, underdeveloped procedures for individuals and groups who seek to be delisted from domestic sanctions, and inadequate regulations defining the rights of bona fide third parties in seizure and confiscation actions.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): China continued to implement broad campaigns in the XUAR under the rubric of countering what the Chinese government considered “extremism.” The XUAR government also mandated “re-education” programs for members of ethnic minority communities and students who study overseas. The government implemented a number of other programs aimed at “stability maintenance,” many of which promote cultural assimilation in the XUAR and place restrictions on the practice of Islam. For further information, please see the Department of State’s Report on International Religious Freedom for 2017.

Regional and International Cooperation: China continued to promote the United Nations as the primary international fora for counterterrorism while increasing its engagement in other multilateral, regional, and bilateral fora. In June, China and other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) signed the SCO Convention on Combating Extremism. In August, China participated in the 2nd High-level Military Leaders’ Meeting on Quadrilateral Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism in Counterterrorism with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan in Dushanbe, and the four parties signed agreements to coordinate counterterrorism efforts. More than 80 countries sent representatives to attend China’s Forum on International Cooperation in Countering the Use of Cyberspace for Criminal and Terrorist Purposes in December.

Beijing pursued the return of ethnic Uighurs and others in Malaysia and other countries to China in the name of counterterrorism cooperation, although evidence of these individuals’ connection to terrorism was not made public.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong continued its effective security and law enforcement partnership with the United States through the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department’s joint implementation of the Container Security Initiative and participation in U.S.-sponsored training in port and border security.

Counterterrorism remained an operational priority for the Hong Kong Police Force. The Police Security Wing coordinates potential terrorist threat information with relevant counterterrorism units. The Police Counterterrorism Response Unit provides a strong deterrent presence. It assists police districts with counterterrorism strategy implementation and complements the tactical and professional support of existing police specialist units, such as the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau, the Special Duties Unit, the Airport Security Unit, and the VIP Protection Unit.

Hong Kong is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a FATF-style regional body. Hong Kong’s Joint Financial Intelligence Unit is a member of the Egmont Group. Terrorist financing is a criminal offense in Hong Kong, and financial institutions are required to search continuously for terrorist financing networks. They must also screen accounts using designations lists provided by the United States under relevant authorities, as well as the UNSC ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida and 1988 (Afghanistan/Taliban) Sanctions Committees’ lists. In June, the Legislative Council passed a bill on the cross-border transportation of large quantities of currency and bearer negotiable instruments to combat terrorist financing. At year’s end, the Secretary for Security had not yet designated the date when the bill would go into force.

In June, Hong Kong introduced the United Nations (Anti-Terrorism Measures) (Amendment) Bill 2017 to update the ordinance to adequately comply with UNSC resolution 2178 (2014) on Foreign Terrorist Fighters. Filing suspicious transactions reports irrespective of transaction amounts is obligatory, but because the bill passed in June 2017 and had not gone into force, Hong Kong did not require mandatory reporting requirements for cross-border currency movements in 2017. In advance of its 2018 FATF Mutual Evaluation, the Hong Kong government in June 2017 introduced in Legislative Committee two bills to bring its regulatory regime fully in line with FATF recommendations.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Hong Kong law enforcement officers attended U.S. government-sponsored capacity-building training at the International Law Enforcement Academy on personnel and facility security, law enforcement techniques to counter terrorism, and financial investigations.

Macau

Macau’s counterterrorism cooperation with the United States included information sharing. The Police Intervention Tactical Unit (UTIP), which falls under the Macau Public Security Police Force, is responsible for protecting important installations and dignitaries and conducting high-risk missions, such as improvised explosive device deactivation. UTIP’s Special Operations Group’s mission is counterterrorism operations. Macau cooperated internationally on counterterrorism efforts through INTERPOL and other security-focused organizations. Macau law enforcement officers attended U.S. government-sponsored capacity-building training at the International Law Enforcement Academy on personnel and facility security, financial and crime scene investigations, computer investigations, and evidence protection.

Macau is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a FATF-style regional body. Macau’s Financial Intelligence Office is a member of the Egmont Group. In response to FATF recommendations, the Macau government enacted a new law on the cross-boundary transportation of large quantities of currency and bearer negotiable instruments in June. The law went into effective in November. Two amended laws on anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing, which widen the scope of identifiable criminal offences and strengthen customer due diligence measures, became effective in May.

Terrorist financing is a criminal offense in Macau. Banks and other financial institutions are required to search continuously for terrorist financing networks and screen accounts using designations lists provided by the United States under relevant authorities and UNSC ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida and 1988 (Afghanistan/Taliban) Sanctions Committees’ lists. Filing suspicious transactions reports irrespective of transaction amounts is obligatory.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes


INDONESIA

Overview: Indonesia applied sustained pressure to detect, disrupt, and degrade terrorist groups operating within its borders and deny them safe haven. ISIS-affiliated Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) and its offshoots continued to target police and other symbols of state authority. The capability of terrorist groups to launch coordinated mass casualty attacks was assessed as low, but the intent remained high. Failed plots included attempts by terrorist groups to use low-grade radioactive material for bombs and recruit female suicide bombers. Returning foreign terrorist fighters with new operational training, skills, experience, networks, and access to funding could help launch more sophisticated attacks against Indonesian government personnel or facilities, Western targets, and other soft targets and public spaces. While not a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, the Indonesian government and Muslim civil society leaders forcefully and repeatedly denounced ISIS and actively promoted a “soft approach” to countering violent extremism to complement “hard” law enforcement counterterrorism efforts.

2017 Terrorist Incidents: JAD targeted police throughout the year, including May 24, when two JAD suicide bombers fatally detonated pressure cooker bombs at a busy bus station in East Jakarta that killed three police officers and injured seven civilians. The police were the target of multiple other JAD-linked attacks, including a June 25 stabbing at a police post in North Sumatra that killed one police officer and injured another, and a June 30 stabbing at a mosque in Jakarta that injured two police officers.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Since 2002, Indonesia has successfully used a civilian‑law‑enforcement‑led, rule-of-law-based approach to counterterrorism. Relevant legislation includes the Law on Combating Criminal Acts of Terrorism (15/2003), the Law on Prevention and Eradication of Terrorist Financing (9/2013), and the 1951 Emergency Law; and Indonesia’s Criminal Code. An amendment to CT Law 15/2003, first proposed in February 2016, would strengthen provisions against foreign terrorist fighters by criminalizing extraterritorial fighting, preparatory acts, and material support for terrorism. In 2017, the Indonesian legislature continued to discuss edits to the draft amendment. The Indonesian government also passed legislation enabling the banning of groups that seek to undermine Indonesian national unity and also banned the non-violent, pro-caliphate group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia.

The elite police counterterrorism force, Detachment 88, leads counterterrorism operations and investigations. Law enforcement was increasingly able to detect, deter, and prevent most terrorist attacks. On August 18, police re-arrested JAD’s Aman Abdurrahman, who was due for an early release from a nine-year sentence, and charged him for his involvement in the January 14, 2016, central Jakarta attack of a police post and a U.S.-franchise coffee shop with small arms and homemade bombs. Three Indonesian citizens and a dual national Algerian‑Canadian were killed and at least 23 others were injured in the attack.

Terrorism case conviction rates were high. Sentences tended to be short, with some exceptions. Recidivist JAD member Juhanda received a life sentence for an attack on a church in East Kalimantan in November 2016. Indonesia’s first female would-be suicide bomber, Dian Yulia Novi, received a seven-and-a-half year sentence for her role in a December 2016 plot to attack the presidential palace.

Corrections officials took steps to improve terrorist prisoner management and implemented a new risk assessment and classification tool. On August 28, Indonesia designated Pasir Putih prison on the island of Nusa Kambangan in Central Java as a specialized prison for high-risk terrorist prisoners.

Border security remained a challenge for this vast archipelagic nation. Advanced Passenger Information and Passenger Name Record systems were not fully in use. Customs continued to struggle with targeting, analysis, management systems, and high-level management turnover. Police maintained a watchlist of suspected terrorists, but lines of communication and coordination among stakeholder agencies were not always clear. Immigration officials at major ports of entry had access to biographic and biometric domestic-only centralized databases. In November, Indonesia began systematic border screening against INTERPOL’s Stolen and Lost Travel Document and nominals databases at three major airports.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Indonesia is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Indonesia’s financial intelligence unit, the Indonesian Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK), is a member of the Egmont Group. Indonesia’s Counterterrorist Financing Law 9/2013 criminalizes money laundering and terrorist financing and authorizes terrorist asset freezing pursuant to UN Security Council resolution 1373, the UN Security Council (UNSC) ISIL (Da’esh) and al‑Qa’ida sanctions regime, and the 1988 Afghanistan/Taliban sanctions regime. In February, Indonesia issued a presidential regulation to strengthen a FATF-driven risk-based approach to limit terrorism finance within the non-profit and charity sector. The APG conducted a Mutual Evaluation Review peer assessment of Indonesia’s anti-money laundering/countering terrorist financing regime (AML/CFT) in November. Indonesia was removed from APG’s monitoring list due to progress in its AML/CFT framework in 2017.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Government and civil society leaders promoted a moderate and tolerant practice of Islam as an alternative to terrorist teachings. They also reinforced the national ideology of Pancasila (five principles that form the philosophical foundation of the Indonesian state).

The National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) began developing a national CVE action plan. A variety of civil society organizations is active in CVE programming, but there was minimal coordination with BNPT programs.

In 2017, the process for a nationwide reorganization of the police began with the goal of a community-focused police service that can better identify the early warning signs of radicalization to violence.

The BNPT managed de-radicalization programs for terrorist convicts. In February, it opened a de-radicalization center in Sentul, south of Jakarta.

Indonesians deported from third countries for attempting to travel to Iraq and Syria were enrolled in a one-month de-radicalization program at a Ministry of Social Affairs shelter in East Jakarta. The BNPT used former terrorists for outreach campaigns and helped establish religious boarding schools for the children of former terrorists.

International and Regional Cooperation: Indonesia participated in counterterrorism efforts in several international, multilateral, and regional fora, including the United Nations, the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Indonesia remained active in the ASEAN Regional Forum Inter-Sessional Meetings on Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime and the APEC Counter‑Terrorism working group. Indonesia was co-chair of the former GCTF Detention and Reintegration working group until September. Beginning in September, Indonesia and Australia co-chaired the GCTF Countering Violent Extremism working group. Indonesia formalized trilateral counterterrorism cooperation with Malaysia and the Philippines and co‑hosted a sub-regional meeting with Australia in Manado, North Sulawesi. Indonesia continued to use the Jakarta Center for Law Enforcement Cooperation as a regional training center.


MALAYSIA

Overview: Although Malaysia did not experience ISIS-related attacks in 2017 and the overall number of foreign terrorist fighters from Malaysia decreased, the country remained a source, transit, and, to a lesser extent, a destination country for suspected ISIS supporters. This included suspected ISIS supporters who were deported from Turkey and those planning to travel to the southern Philippines. Malaysia monitored, arrested, deported, and tried suspected ISIS supporters throughout the year. Malaysia also cooperated with the United States and others to increase border security capacity at airports and in the Sulu Sea and to counter terrorist messaging on social media. Malaysia is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: On April 4, the House of Representatives re-authorized the maximum 28-day detention-without-charge period for national security suspects contained in the 2012 Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act for another five years, or until July 2022. Opponents of the extension cited the misuse of national security legislation to arrest critics.

During the year, Malaysian authorities continued to broaden INTERPOL connectivity at air, land, and sea ports of entry, but lacked legislation to authorize the collection of Advance Passenger Information.

In August, police arrested eight Philippine citizens suspected of planning an attack on the closing ceremony of the Southeast Asia Games. The lead suspect was believed to be a member of the Abu Sayyaf Group and to have participated in combat operations, kidnappings for ransom, and beheadings in the Philippines prior to his arrest.

Malaysian law enforcement continued to participate in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. Training and equipment focused on enhancing Malaysian border security and investigative capabilities.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Malaysia is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a FATF-style regional body. In its annual National Risk Assessment for 2016 (published in 2017), the National Coordination Committee to Counter Money Laundering did not consider terrorism financing to be a high risk in Malaysia. The Committee did note, however, that a small but growing number of “self‑financed” terrorists have sought to raise funds through family, friends, and the internet to support their travel to Syria and Iraq to fight with ISIS.

Between 2016 and April 2017, 29 terrorist finance prosecutions were brought to court and 11 convictions were secured. The increase in convictions over the previous year was due to closer public-private partnership in detecting terrorist financing-related activities in Malaysia and greater coordination within the law enforcement community.

Although the general risk was low for the use of cryptocurrencies in terrorist financing, Malaysia’s central bank (BNM) announced during the year that it had begun drafting a framework to regulate the exchange of cryptocurrencies to fiat currencies to ensure that all such exchange entities and their transactions were registered with the central bank.

According to a 2017 regional not-for-profit sector risk assessment (unique from the National Risk Assessment) co-published by BNM, the terrorism finance risk facing not-for-profit organizations (NPOs) in Malaysia was rated medium. The report highlighted the potential for Malaysia to be used as a transit country for recruits joining terrorist groups because its porous borders were vulnerable to terrorists moving funds and other material support into neighboring countries. Malaysia was the only country commended in the regional assessment for having significant regulatory oversight, terrorist financing-focused outreach, national and international mechanisms for coordination, and regulatory powers to remove and revoke NPO-status and enforce actions against NPOs. However, the existence of four different registrars for NPOs and the absence of requirements for NPOs to register and file suspicious transaction reports created limitations to detecting and combating terrorist financing.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): The Ministry of Youth’s Institute for Youth Research published a set of guidelines in 2017 to educate the public on “the dangers of radicalism and involvement in extremism.” The guidelines were based on government-sponsored research on ISIS ideology.

The government also announced two new counter-messaging initiatives during the year, including the King Salman Center for International Peace, a partnership with the Government of Saudi Arabia; and the ASEAN Center for Islam, Peace, and Non-Violence, a center that would be based at the Universiti Sultan Azlan Shah. The ASEAN center was not operational by the end of 2017.

Police engaged in extensive community outreach activities during the year and enhanced security partnerships with communities in Eastern Sabah.

International and Regional Cooperation: Malaysia continued to support counterterrorism efforts in regional and multilateral organizations and participated in numerous counterterrorism events hosted by the United Nations, the Global Counterterrorism Forum, ASEAN, and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). In 2017, Malaysia hosted an ARF workshop on countering online extremism, a regional workshop on handling returning foreign terrorist fighters and ISIS External Operations, and a regional counterterrorism financing summit. In cooperation with Indonesia and the Philippines, Malaysia announced the commencement of joint maritime patrols in June to “maintain stability in the region in the face of non-traditional real threats such as piracy, kidnapping, terrorism, and other transnational crimes in regional waters.” The three governments also announced the commencement of joint air patrols in October to counter the movement of violent extremists and terrorists across the borders of the three countries.

Malaysia is also a member of the Saudi-led Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition. In November, Malaysian officials joined representatives from 41 other Muslim-majority states to formally launch the coalition and coordinate their counterterrorism efforts.


PHILIPPINES

Overview: The Philippines improved its counterterrorism capabilities in the face of an evolving and increasingly robust terrorist threat. The Philippine government consistently acknowledged the dangers from ISIS-affiliated terrorist groups and welcomed assistance from the United States and a range of international partners. In addition to exchanges and U.S. materiel and advise-and-assist support, the September 2017 Tempest Wind drill showcased whole-of-government U.S.‑Philippine cooperation with more than 1,200 civilian and military participants simulating a hostage rescue scenario.

From May to November, terrorist organizations pledging support to ISIS – including a faction of the Abu Sayyaf Group, the Maute Group, and others – occupied and held Marawi City. When the siege began, President Duterte declared martial law over the entire Mindanao region – approximately one-third of the country’s territory – and Congress granted an extension of martial law until the end of 2018. Security forces ultimately cleared the city and eliminated much of the terrorist leadership, but suffered many casualties during the siege.

Political settlements to long-running insurgencies remained elusive, thereby driving recruitment and fueling terrorist activities among certain groups. The Bangsamoro Basic Law, intended to implement the previous administration’s 2014 peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), was awaiting action in Congress at the end of 2017. Delays in passing the Law have provided recruitment propaganda for former MILF fighters and commanders who formed more extreme breakaway groups, including the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Ansar al-Khalifa, and the Maute Group.

The Government of the Philippines and the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA) ended their six-month unilateral ceasefires in February, and the CPP/NPA increased its attacks against security forces following the failure of the most recent round of peace talks in May. On December 5, President Duterte signed a presidential proclamation to formally designate the CPP/NPA a terrorist group, but the courts must still rule on the designation.

2017 Terrorist Incidents: During the Battle of Marawi City, radical groups aligned with ISIS attacked, occupied, and destroyed several key public buildings and held dozens of civilians hostage as human shields. They also reportedly massacred and beheaded captive civilians. Beyond Marawi, Philippine media observed that kidnapping-for-ransom cases declined from previous years. Armed attacks against civilians and security forces continued, however. The press reported that on June 22, security forces rescued at least 60 civilians held hostage after a BIFF attack in North Cotabato. Suspected members of the Abu Sayyef Group attacked a village in Basilan on August 21, killing at least nine civilians and wounding a dozen more. The December 3 attack on a police station in Misamis Oriental by approximately 100 CPP/NPA members exemplified the group’s frequent strikes at military, police, and local government official targets.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: President Duterte identified amending the Human Security Act of 2007, the country’s principal counterterrorism legislation, as a priority in both of his state of the nation addresses. Efforts to revise the legislation, thereby enabling more effective investigation and prosecution of terrorism as a crime, were ongoing at the end of 2017.

Interagency information sharing continued to improve among Philippine law enforcement units, despite the country lacking a fully operational 24/7 joint fusion center to monitor and address terrorist threats and activities. The Joint Terrorist Financing Investigation Group is the only multi-agency “center” in Manila that routinely meets and exchanges counterterrorism intelligence.

The Philippines increased its aviation security capacity by procuring updated x-ray technology and more widely using explosive trace detection units, but it faced understaffing challenges at security checkpoints and lacked a comprehensive national aviation security strategy. Four Japanese-donated maritime rescue and response vessels allowed the Philippine Coast Guard to extend its maritime security capabilities in key areas of their Exclusive Economic Zone and the Sulu Sea. In the area of identity tracking, collection of high value target biometric attributes expanded to include the Philippines’ largest prison.

Key counterterrorism law enforcement actions included the National Bureau of Investigation’s October 2017 arrest of a woman suspected of using the internet to spread terrorist propaganda and recruit foreign terrorist fighters to the Philippines. The Philippine Department of Justice charged the Maute clan matriarch, the former Marawi mayor, and nine other individuals with rebellion in June. Additionally, the Philippines effectively exercised its capabilities to protect the 2017 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and related events from terrorist attacks.

In 2017, the Philippine National Police participated in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. It received training and equipment on crisis response, border security, and investigations – including cyber investigations.

The Philippine justice system made progress on past instances of terrorism, including the November 2017 conviction of a man responsible for the 2007 bombing of the Philippine House of Representatives. Meanwhile, hearings continued on the 2009 landmine attack that killed two U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers in Jolo Province.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: The Philippines is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Its financial intelligence unit, the Anti-Money Laundering Council, is a member of the Egmont Group. The Philippines amended its Anti-Money Laundering Act to include gambling and casinos, a critical step to avoid placement on the FATF “grey” list. The Philippines continued to make efforts to bring its banking controls up to international standards.

The Joint Terrorist Financing Investigation Group continued to work with the United States to investigate suspected terrorist finance cases. Notably, the Philippines seized US $1 million from the Maute family during the 2017 Marawi siege.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): At year’s end, the Anti-Terrorism Council was working to finalize a National Action Plan for Countering Violent Extremism that will outline a whole-of-government strategy.

International and Regional Cooperation: The Philippine Navy began joint patrols with its Indonesian and Malaysian counterparts under a June 2017 trilateral arrangement to combat piracy, terrorism, and the illegal drug trade. In November, regional partners also founded the Southeast Asia Counter Terrorism Financing working group, an information-sharing mechanism that comprises regional financial intelligence units co-led by Australia and the Philippines. As the 2017 chair of ASEAN, the Philippines hosted key leadership summits that facilitated dialogue and coordination on counterterrorism issues.


SINGAPORE

Overview: Singapore identified counterterrorism as a top policy priority and has developed a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy based on global and regional trends. This strategy includes vigilant security measures, regional and international law enforcement cooperation, counter-radicalization efforts, and strategies to prepare the populace for eventual attacks. As such, Singapore remained a committed, active, and effective counterterrorism partner in 2017.

Counterterrorism remained a pillar of the civilian sector security relationship between Singapore and the United States. The highly productive levels of counterterrorism cooperation developed in recent years continued as did expanded information sharing. Singapore’s domestic counterterrorism apparatus and its ability to detect, deter, and disrupt threats remained effective. Singapore has been a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS since 2014 and expanded its support in 2016 beyond military assets to include medical teams in Iraq.

The United States worked closely throughout the year with Singapore to identify and develop new capabilities that meet a wide variety of requirements for countering terrorist threats. Through a cost-sharing bilateral relationship, both countries advanced their technical ability to defeat or mitigate the evolving capabilities of terrorists and criminal organizations.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Singapore uses its Internal Security Act (ISA) to arrest and detain suspected terrorists. The ISA authorizes the Minister for Home Affairs (MHA), with the consent of the president, to order arrest and detention without warrant 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 period – in increments of up to two years at a time – with the president’s consent. Alternatively, the government can issue a restriction order limiting a person’s international travel and changes of residence or employment without government approval. ISA cases are subject to review by the courts to ensure strict compliance with procedural requirements under the act.

Singapore’s existing legal framework, in conjunction with the ISA, provides the government with the necessary tools to support the investigation and prosecution of terrorism offenses. In October, Singapore passed the “Infrastructure Protection Act” that mandates enhanced counterterrorism security measures for public buildings and sensitive sites. Law enforcement agencies displayed coordination, command, and control in responding to threat information affecting Singapore’s security.

The Government of Singapore has a “not if, but when” stance regarding the likelihood of terrorist attacks within the city-state. The government’s SGSecure public awareness campaign was launched in 2016 to improve emergency preparedness, promote security awareness, and build national resiliency. The campaign continued in 2017 with a broad advertising campaign and public information sessions with local police.

To better detect possible terrorist movements via air into or transiting through Singapore, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority worked with the United States to improve its passenger screening system by integrating both Advanced Passenger Information and Passenger Name Record data transmitted from air carriers into its border screening processes. Implementation of this program by Singapore will help its government safeguard international travel and supply chains against terrorism by analyzing traveler data and developing targeting rules and methodologies.

Singapore issued at least four detention and two restriction orders to Singaporeans under the ISA in 2017. With these arrests, Singapore has issued detention or restriction orders to at least 19 Singaporeans for terrorism-related activities since 2015. In 2017, Singapore expelled several radicalized foreign domestic workers, fined and expelled a foreign Muslim teacher for reciting an inflammatory prayer, and banned three foreign Muslim preachers from entering the country due to the preachers’ “divisive” comments that were contrary to Singaporean policies of racial and religious harmony and inclusion. We refer you to the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for further information.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Singapore is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a FATF-style regional body. Singapore’s Suspicious Transaction Reporting Office is a member of the Egmont Group. In April 2017, Singapore announced the creation of an Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Industry Partnership (ACIP). The ACIP is a joint initiative between the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Commercial Affairs Department of the Singapore Police Force, with the goal of bringing together relevant government agencies and private sector participants to strengthen Singapore’s capabilities to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Through entities such as the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) and the Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG), Singapore serves as a regional CVE hub. The ICPVTR conducts research, training, and outreach programs aimed at understanding the causes of radicalization to violence and formulating practical rehabilitation programs. The government also encourages inter-religious and inter-ethnic dialogue through Interracial and Religious Confidence Circles, local community fora that bring leaders from Singapore’s religious and ethnic communities together to discuss issues of concern and build trust.

The government believes in building regional capacity to counter violent extremism and has highlighted opportunities for constructive engagement, such as promoting legitimate charities working to ease suffering in Syria and Iraq. The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, the Islamic authority in charge of Muslim affairs, maintains a Facebook presence and holds outreach and educational events to counter terrorist propaganda and recruitment efforts.

The RRG, a volunteer organization, has had success in counseling detainees held under the Internal Security Act. The comprehensive program includes religious and psychological counseling and involves the detainee’s family and community. In 2016, the RRG launched a smart phone app designed to counter terrorist voices by providing users with opportunities to ask questions and have conversations with RRG imams and counselors.

International and Regional Cooperation: Singapore is an active participant in counterterrorism cooperation efforts in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Regional Forum, and Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, and has prioritized regional counterterrorism cooperation as ASEAN chair. In December, Singapore hosted Philippine forces at its new urban conflict training center and participated in its first counterterrorism tabletop exercise with Indonesian forces in November. In March, Singapore co-hosted, with Turkey and the United States, the First Regional Workshop of the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s Protection of Soft Targets in a Counterterrorism Context Initiative.


THAILAND

Overview: Thailand’s principle vulnerability to international terrorism is its status as a transit and facilitation country. Thailand is an attractive facilitation hub for illicit activity given the high volume of travelers through Bangkok’s main airport, coupled with an available market of illegal goods and relatively weak banking oversight. Domestic terrorist incidents were largely confined to Thailand’s four southernmost provinces, the scene of a longstanding separatist conflict between ethno-nationalist Malay Muslim insurgent groups and the central Thai government. Although Thai security officials have expressed moderate concern about the threat to Thailand from ISIS, security authorities continued to assert there was no confirmed evidence of Thai citizens joining the group or of operational linkages between the southern insurgent groups and international terrorist networks. Thailand remained a productive counterterrorism partner, even as the Thai government continued to focus on domestic political challenges as its primary security priority.

2017 Terrorist Incidents: Ethno-nationalist Malay Muslim insurgents carried out hundreds of attacks in the southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, and parts of Songkhla, known as Thailand’s Deep South. Methods included shootings, arson, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and vehicle-borne IEDs (VBIEDs). Since the conflict surged in 2004, insurgents have largely confined their attacks to the four southernmost provinces. Terrorism-related attacks included:

  • On April 6, a series of at least 20 near-simultaneous bomb and arson attacks were carried out in Thailand’s southern provinces, causing widespread blackouts. The attacks occurred a day after the country enacted the new constitution, and many political analysts believed the attacks were likely intended to undermine the military government. A second string of attacks occurred in 11 districts of Thailand’s Deep South on April 19.
  • On May 9, two bombs exploded at a supermarket in Pattani, injuring 61 people, including 13 children, but caused no fatalities. A small bomb was triggered inside the store before a VBIED was triggered outside the store approximately 15 minutes later. While violence and bombings in the Deep South are common, the use of a VBIED on civilian targets is rare. Many analysts believe the incident was not intended to cause high civilian casualties, as the initial smaller bomb was likely intended to evacuate the area prior to the VBIED’s explosion. Although no group took responsibility for the bombing, it was believed the work of the southern separatist movement. The lack of a claim of responsibility is not unusual, as the various ethnic Malay insurgent groups generally do not publicly claim responsibility for attacks.
  • On May 22, a small bomb exploded in Bangkok’s Phra Mongkut Hospital, injuring 24 people. The hospital is military-run and the blast took place on the third anniversary of the 2014 military coup. A suspect arrested in June allegedly confessed to planting the bomb and claimed to despise the military regime.
  • On August 16, a group of seven armed men stole six pick-up trucks from a used car dealership in Songkhla, took four people hostage, and killed one dealership employee. The men subsequently drove five of the cars south to Pattani. The men planted two of the cars with bombs that later exploded, injuring four soldiers in the first explosion and one police officer in the second. One car contained an IED that the police safely defused. Police found the two other vehicles abandoned in Pattani and the sixth vehicle abandoned in Songkhla.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Thailand’s law enforcement authorities demonstrated some capacity to detect, deter, and respond to terrorist incidents. Multiple entities – including the Royal Thai Police (RTP), Department of Special Investigation, and components of the Thai military – have law enforcement responsibilities on counterterrorism cases. 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. Annual routine reassignments of senior government and military officials hampered continuity in leadership.

Throughout the year, officers from Thailand’s Anti-Money Laundering Office, the Ministry of Justice, the RTP, and the National Intelligence Agency participated in regional workshops focused on counterterrorism threats including Hizballah and ISIS. The regional workshops also covered investigative techniques, countering the financing of terrorism, and legal reforms.

Thailand hosted and participated in the International Law Enforcement Academy in Bangkok, which conducted courses on post-blast investigations, border interdictions, law enforcement techniques to counter terrorism, and financial investigative techniques.

Thailand’s borders are relatively porous. The market in fraudulent documents remained active despite government efforts to crack down on criminal counterfeit networks. Information sharing within Thailand and with neighboring countries appeared limited. Beginning in 2016, Thailand began to collect and analyze Advanced Passenger Information And Passenger Name Record data on commercial flights at all international airports. Although the Royal Thai Police in May signed an agreement with the INTERPOL National Central Bureau to gain access rights to INTERPOL’s 16 databases, including the Stolen and Lost Travel Document database, Thai immigration systems at border crossings still lacked the capability for real-time connectivity with these INTERPOL databases.

Thailand participated in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program and received training in border security and investigations.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Thailand belongs to the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Thailand’s financial intelligence unit, Anti-Money Laundering Office Thailand, is a member of the Egmont Group. Thailand does not have a significant unregulated informal banking and money transfer system that could aid terrorism financing activities. In cases where the central bank has discovered unauthorized remittances, the central bank has coordinated with the police to arrest the offenders. An estimated two-thirds of Thailand’s non-government organizations operate as unregistered entities and therefore represent a high risk for terrorist financing. Thailand continues to implement UN Security Council 1373 obligations, especially in the banking and insurance sectors. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2018 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Thailand lacked a national CVE action plan, although the draft national counterterrorism strategy includes elements of CVE. The government’s Internal Security Operations Command continued to organize outreach programs to ethnic Malay-Muslims in southern Thailand to counter radicalization to violence. The government also worked with Muslim leaders to promote the teaching of moderate Islam and to improve interfaith dialogue between Muslims and Buddhists. Non-governmental organizations continued to reach 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. Civil society and academic leaders received training through State Department-funded programs.

In July, the State Department, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Thai National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, co-sponsored a conference in Bangkok on best practices to counter radicalization to violence.

International and Regional Cooperation: Thailand participated in international counterterrorism efforts, including through the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the ASEAN Regional Forum.