Posts Tagged ‘Indonesia’

SE Asian nations commit to cohesive approach to terrorism, militants

June 22, 2017

Reuters

By Neil Jerome Morales and Manuel Mogato | MANILA/MARAWI CITY, PHILIPPINES

The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia agreed on Thursday to pool intelligence and tackle militant financing as fears grow that protracted fighting in a southern Philippine town could be the prelude to an Islamic State infiltration of the region.

Foreign ministers and defense officials of the three neighboring countries agreed to work together to share information, track communications and crack down on the flow of arms, fighters and money, amid what experts says is the biggest security threat facing Southeast Asia in decades.

Despite signs that the rebels battling government forces in Marawi City were on the back foot, authorities are worried that the fighting – now in its fifth week – might be the beginning of a wave of violence as the ultra-radical Islamic State group tries to establish a foothold.

Militants holed up in Marawi were cornered and their firepower was flagging, the military said on Thursday, estimating the number of remaining fighters at just over 100, and all within a 1 square kilometer area.

Malaysia Foreign Minister Anifah Aman told the meeting the that extremism needed an immediate response, and constant engagement between the three countries that must be a “cohesive unit”.

“This is an urgent task that we need to undertake as clearly evidenced through the current situation in Marawi,” he said.

“This means our enforcement agencies must constantly engage with one another, not only in intelligence sharing but new active and innovative measures.”

Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have launched joint patrols to control militant movements across their archipelagic region.

Smoke billows are seen as government troops continue their assault against insurgents from the Maute group, who have taken over parts of Marawi city, Philippines June 22, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco
1/12

But experts point to how they have previously failed to work together to prevent festering militancy and banditry from worsening, plagued as they are by mistrust, dormant territorial disputes and limited capabilities.

The Philippines in particular is widely seen as the weaker link.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Thursday’s meeting aimed to revisit existing security programs between the three and draw up a plan to strengthen and implement them.

‘LOOKING FOR BASES’

His country was now a clear target for extremists, he said, and the region only needed to look at how quickly Islamic State, or ISIS, managed to recruit fighters and carve out strongholds in Iraq and Syria

“These jihadists will be looking for land bases or areas outside Iraq and Syria,” Cayetano told reporters.

“Everyone has their vulnerability, no one is perfect.

“If other countries have nationals in Marawi and Mindanao and are extremists, they are as much a threat to their home country as here.”

A Philippine officer, Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Tampus, said troops were blocking escape routes out of Marawi and rebels were hemmed-in and using civilians dressed in black as human shields.

“Our forces are coming from the east and the north and we are blocking the three bridges,” he said.

Tampus said the militant snipers were firing from “strategic nests” in schools and mosques, and their bombs were hampering his troops’ operations.

Malaysia is worried that militants could flee to its eastern state of Sabah.

Malaysia has a wanted list that includes two militants who spearheaded the attempt to capture Marawi.

They are a leader of the Abu Sayyaf group, Isnilon Hapilon, who was proclaimed by Islamic State last year as its “emir” of Southeast Asia, and Abdullah Maute, whose followers accounted for a large number of the estimated 400-500 fighters who overran parts of Marawi, killing Christians and taking dozens of civilians hostage.

According to official estimates, 369 people have been killed, three-quarters of them militants. The number of security forces and civilians killed stood at 67 and 26, respectively.

(Additional reporting by Simon Lewis in MARAWI, Karen Lema in MANILA, Rozanna Latiff in KUALA LUMPUR; Writing by John Chalmers and Martin Petty; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Philippines: Islamist fighters trapped in corner of besieged town

June 22, 2017

Reuters

Thu Jun 22, 2017 | 2:27am EDT

Damaged buildings and houses are seen as government forces continue their assault against insurgents from the Maute group, who have taken over large parts of the Marawi City, Philippines June 22, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco
By Manuel Mogato and Simon Lewis | MARAWI CITY, PHILIPPINES

Islamist militants holed up in a southern Philippines town have been cornered and their firepower is flagging, the military said on Thursday, as the five-week battle for control of Marawi City raged on.

Despite signs that the insurgents are now on the back foot, Southeast Asian governments are worried that the siege could be just the prelude to further violence as the ultra-radical Islamic State group tries to establish a foothold in their region.

Jolted by the May 23 attack on Marawi, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have launched joint patrols to control the movement of militants across their archipelagic region and their foreign ministers gathered in Manila on Thursday for talks.

Malaysia is worried that militants who are flushed out of Marawi City by the fighting may try to cross from the Philippines to its eastern state of Sabah.

“We fear that they may enter the country disguised as illegal immigrants or foreign fishermen,” said Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) chief Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid, according to state news agency Bernama.

It said Esscom had drawn up a “wanted” list that included two militants who spearheaded the attempt to capture Marawi.

They are Abu Sayyaf group leader Isnilon Hapilon, who was proclaimed by Islamic State last year as its “emir” of Southeast Asia, and Abdullah Maute, whose followers accounted for a large number of the estimated 400-500 fighters who overran part of the town, killing Christians and taking dozens of civilians hostage.

The fighting in Marawi broke out on May 23.

Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera said on Thursday the number of militants holding out in Marawi had dwindled to “a little over 100”.

Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Tampus said: “Their area has been reduced to 1 km square only.” Tampus’ troops are blocking escape routes across bridges spanning a river to the west of the militants.

“Our forces are coming from the east and the north and we are blocking the three bridges,” he said.

Tampus told reporters that the militants were still using snipers who were firing from “strategic nests” in schools and mosques, and homemade bombs were hampering the progress of Philippine troops as they advanced house by house.

He said he had seen at least five civilians dressed in black who appeared to have been forced to stand in the street as human shields.

According to official estimates late on Wednesday, 369 people have been killed during the month of hostilities, three-quarters of them militants. The number of security forces and civilians killed stood at 67 and 26, respectively.

For graphic on Philippines hostage drama, click: tmsnrt.rs/2sOnEp8

(Additional reporting by Karen Lema and Neil Jerome Morales in MANILA and Rozanna Latiff in KUALA LUMPUR; Writing by John Chalmers)

Philippine Military Tightens The Noose Around Remaining Islamic Terrorists

June 21, 2017
Soldiers help evacuated residents disembark from a military vehicle after arriving at a processing center near a hospital in Marawi City yesterday. AFP

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines  – Government troops have breached the remaining defensive positions of remnants of the Maute terror group in Marawi City, the military announced yesterday.

Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera, spokesman for Task Force Marawi, said the soldiers have recovered the bodies of several slain terrorists along with their armaments.

He said bodies of civilians were also recovered, but did not say how many.

Herrera said there are still terrorists occupying buildings and mosques in four barangays in the commercial district of Marawi.

The military said the terrorists’ resistance continues to wane and the areas they hold are getting fewer as government security forces press their advance.

Sustained air strikes have also softened the areas held by the terrorists.

Herrera said the troops have cleared 16 buildings and soldiers have entered two more to flush out the terrorists.

Advancing troops have taken control of strategic vantage points in tall buildings, according to Herrera.

“Troops continue to get deeper into once enemy held positions as evidenced by the recovery of cadavers of terrorists and their firearms; computers and peripherals as well as communications equipment and accessories,” Herrera said.

“If we will not clear this properly it will post danger not only to our troops but also to the civilians who want to go back to their homes,” Herrera said.

Herrera said the military has not set Eid’l Fitr or the end of the holy month of Ramadan as another deadline for troops to clear Marawi.

“Wala po tayong (we have no) deadline” for clearing operations,according to Herrera.

The military is now preparing to assist the local government in the rehabilitation, reconstruction and rebuilding phase of Marawi as soon as the terrorist threat is quelled, he said.

He said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Eduardo Año reiterated that the military is prepared to embark on the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi.

Marine Col. Edgardo Arevalo, public affairs chief of the AFP, said the government now controls most of Marawi City, but that government forces would not stop using air assets against the terrorists.

“Generally, nandiyan na sa atin yung (we now have) control, so ngayon (now), we continue to use our air assets or assets of the government including our artillery,” Arevalo said during the weekly “Insider Exclusive” forum of radio dzRJ in Makati City.

Two Army engineering battalions would be deployed to Marawi City for the reconstruction of damaged parts of the city as soon as hostilities between government troops and the Maute terror group stop, according to the military.

Armed Forces spokesman Brig. General Restituto Padilla said that military engineering equipment are now deployed to Marawi to prepare for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of areas destroyed by fighting and air strikes since the terrorists attacked the city last May 23.

Clashes between troopers and the bandits have resulted in the death of some 258 Maute fighters, 66 soldiers and policemen and 26 civilians.

President Duterte announced yesterday in Iligan City that P20 billion has been set aside for the rebuilding of the city and construction of housing for residents whose houses were destroyed.

Rehabilitation

Public Works Secretary Mark Villar said the agency is on standby and ready to help with the reconstruction of Marawi City once the military has completed its operations against the terrorists.

Villar has alerted the regional offices, especially in Mindanao, to be prepared for rebuilding Marawi.

“After this incident is done, we would be able to focus on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi. We are ready, our regional offices in the area. Once the military has completed its operation, we will come in,” said Villar.

He said they would help in the rebuilding of roads and schools to help restore normalcy in the lives of residents.

Villar assured the residents that there are funds to spend for Marawi but admitted that they still do not know how much the total rehabilitation would cost. “We would only know the exact cost of the damage when we have entered the city,” he said.

He said the department has funds for calamities and President Duterte is prioritizing the rebuilding of Marawi.

“Our disaster budget would be replenished by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). We started at P1 billion, but it will be replenished. The DBM is well equipped. The President has announced P20 billion for Marawi,” he added.

Arevalo said the military is now conducting clearing operations and searching each building and house in Marawi to flush out remnants of the terrorists.

He added that troops are not only clearing the areas, but also securing buildings and houses to make sure all improvised explosive devices have been removed.

Despite the government’s control over most parts of war-torn Marawi, Arevalo said the military would not stop operations against the remaining terrorist snipers.

“They are still capable of delivering sniper fire. Mayroon pa rin silang (they still have) improvised explosive devices at ganun din kahit nagpapaputok ng (and when they fire) rocket-propelled grenade, which could disable our tanks,” he said.

As of yesterday, the AFP had secured 18 to 20 buildings in Marawi City and cleared all the terrorists inside.

He said they were able to rescue some 1,645 civilians in Marawi City, including eight residents only yesterday morning.

Meanwhile, Lanao del Sur Gov. Soraya Alonto Adiong has coordinated with the Philippine National Police and the Army to save whatever is left in the houses and buildings that the Maute groups and their Abu Sayyaf allies have looted.

Adiong said the Provincial Security Force have started inspecting and securing the buildings and houses in the affected areas.

Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is assisting the local government in the rehabilitation of Marawi City.

Arevalo said the military is prepared for terrorist threats in other key cities nationwide.

“That is part of our training. We have been practicing for this. We have been studying this. That’s part of our preparation but as much as possible, we don’t want to execute it. But if push comes to shove, if the need calls for it, we can execute all these trainings. We are ready to do it,” said Arevalo.

There were recent reports that the Maute terrorists plan to launch attacks in key cities nationwide on June 30.

Arevalo described the report as unverified and therefore untrue.

But just the same, he stressed the military needs the support and help of the public in order to combat terrorist threats.  –  With Robertzon Ramirez, Evelyn Macairan, Jaime Laude, Roel Pareño, Lino de la Cruz

– See more at: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/06/22/1712454/remaining-maute-positions-breached#sthash.9Z0XPWvZ.dpuf

Islamic militants attack Philippine village — “Islamists still plenty strong”

June 21, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Ayee Macaraig | Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law across Mindanao, home to 20 million people, on May 23 immediately after fighters flying the IS flag rampaged through Marawi.

MARAWI (PHILIPPINES) (AFP) – Islamic militants launched a day-long assault on a southern Philippine village Wednesday during which they held 31 people hostage inside a school, authorities said, raising fears of spreading violence as other jihadists fought a month-long urban war nearby.Hundreds of gunmen attacked a lightly guarded military outpost at dawn, with some then taking over the school and using civilians as human shields throughout the day before fleeing at night, the military said.

“It’s all resolved, all the hostages have been accounted for, no one was hurt,” military spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla told AFP by phone on Wednesday night.

The military said earlier that the gunmen had planted improvised bombs around the school, a small building in a rural area, and that soldiers had surrounded it.

Padilla and a local military spokesman said the militants were able to use the cover of darkness to escape, while leaving their 31 hostages unharmed. They said 12 children were among the hostages.

The unrest occurred in Pigkawayan, a farming town about 160 kilometres (100 miles) from Marawi city where fighters linked to the Islamic State (IS) group have been battling troops for a month in a conflict that has claimed hundreds of lives.

Armed forces spokesman Restituto Padilla said the attackers at Pikgawayan belonged to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), one of four groups in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao that have pledged allegiance to IS.

Local police said the BIFF attack may have been intended to help the militants in Marawi by distracting the military, although Padilla insisted it was unrelated.

Padilla said gunmen engaged in skirmishes throughout the day in and around Pigkawayan, while others occupied the school and using civilians seized from neighbouring homes as human shields.

Pigkawayan is part of a largely lawless areas with mixed Muslim-Christian communities where the BIFF, other Muslim rebels and political warlords hold sway. The town is surrounded by marshlands, mountains and farmlands.

About 200 gunmen were involved in the initial assault, according to Pigkawayan mayor Eliseo Garsesa.

– Hardline groups –

Muslim rebels have been fighting for more than four decades for an independent or autonomous region in the south of the mainly Catholic nation, with the conflict claiming more than 120,000 lives.

The major rebel organisations have signed, or are pursuing, peace deals with the government, but small hardline groups such as the BIFF have vowed to continue fighting.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law across Mindanao, home to 20 million people, on May 23 immediately after fighters flying the IS flag rampaged through Marawi.

Their assault on Marawi ignited an unprecedented urban war that has claimed hundreds of lives and which Duterte has warned is part of an IS campaign to establish a base in Mindanao.

The fighting has left Marawi, the most important Muslim city in the Philippines, largely in ruins.

The militants involved in the Marawi fighting are mostly from the Maute and Abu Sayyaf organisations, which have united with the BIFF under the IS umbrella, according to the government.

The military has said foreign fighters, including those from Chechnya, Indonesia and Malaysia, have also joined the Marawi conflict.

IS has ambitions of setting up a caliphate in Southeast Asia — home to largely Muslim nations like Indonesia and Malaysia — as the group loses territory in Iraq and Syria.

The BIFF was blamed for attacking Christian communities in Mindanao in 2008, triggering a conflict that claimed about 400 lives and forced 600,000 people to flee their homes.

Padilla said Wednesday’s unrest at Pigkawayan was not related to the Marawi conflict, saying BIFF fighters were seeking to counter a military offensive against it.

“Apparently they wanted to get even after recent setbacks,” Padilla told AFP.

str-mba-mm-kma/fa

by Ayee Macaraig

Indonesian Islamic sect say they’re ‘denied state IDs’ over their beliefs

June 21, 2017

Reuters

Members of an Indonesian Islamic sect have issued a complaint that their human rights were breached by a local government refusing to issue them state ID cards unless they renounce their belief, a rights group said on Wednesday.

The Ahmadiyah identify themselves as Muslims, but believe another prophet followed the Prophet Mohammed, who founded Islam. Many mainstream Muslims and hardline groups accuse the sect and other Muslim minorities of apostasy.

Image result for Ahmadiyah, Indonesia, photos

Ahmadiyah Muslims (The Ahmadis)

A mob of 1,000 people beat to death three Ahmadis in an unprovoked attack in a village in Banten province, west of Jakarta, in 2011 and activists say the group continues to face discrimination.

Indonesia’s reputation for tolerance has come under renewed scrutiny since Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian, was sentenced last month to two years in prison for blasphemy in a trial that came after mass Islamist-led rallies and raised religious tensions to the highest in years.

Sixteen people from the village of Manislor in West Java, representing 1,400 members of the sect, told the ombudsman on Tuesday that their lives had been damaged by not having IDs for five years, said Syamsul Alam Agus, executive secretary of One Justice Foundation, a nonprofit organization.

Some were unable to register their marriages, Agus said, adding in one case an Ahmadi was refused treatment at a hospital because of a lack of ID.

According to Agus, in order to obtain ID documents, Ahmadis had to sign a form stating they were Muslims while reading the Shahada, an Islamic creed declaring belief in the oneness of God and Muhammad as God’s prophet.

“Not giving an electronic ID card to Manislor’s Ahmadiyah followers is not only a violation of human rights, but also breaking the law,” Agus said.

Indonesia requires a person to state their religion on official ID cards.

The ombudsman felt there had been maladministration at the local Kuningan government where Manislor is located, but had not formally issued any recommendation, said Ahmad Su’adi, an ombudsman official, adding that “the state cannot force people” to denounce or join a religion.

The Kuningan government could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, but in a June 2016 post on its website, the head of the Kuningan regency, Acep Purnama, defended its refusal to hand out identity documents to followers of Ahmadiyah and an animist belief, Sunda Wiwitan.

“We are not discriminating or being intolerant… But this is an issue of principle that has to be resolved together and must be accepted by all Kuningan people. This isn’t about majority or minority,” he was quoted as saying.

Earlier this month, the government of Depok city near Jakarta sealed off a mosque frequently used by Ahmadis during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, according to media reports.

Muslims make up nearly 90 percent of Indonesia’s 250 million people but there are sizeable communities of Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and people who adhere to traditional beliefs.

(Reporting by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Ed Davies and Nick Macfie)

Islamic State Gunmen Repulsed By Philippine Troops After a Gunbattle

June 21, 2017

The Philippine military said Islamist militants who had holed up in a primary school with some civilians had retreated after a gunbattle with troops

Wednesday, 21 June, 2017, 1:19 pm

Hundreds of gunmen attacked troops in a southern Philippine village on Wednesday in a hit-and-run assault that may have been intended to help Islamist militants engaged in a nearby urban war, authorities said.

Five civilians who were used as human shields were missing, and soldiers were pursuing the assailants who had quickly retreated, military spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla told reporters in Manila.

Padilla said the gunmen attacked a military outpost at daybreak in Pigkawayan, a farming town about 160 kilometres from Marawi city where fighters linked to the Islamic State (IS) group have been battling troops for a month.

The attack could be a diversionary tactic to ease pressure on the militants in Marawi, local police commander Chief Inspector Realan Mamon said on radio.

Padilla said the attackers belonged to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), one of four armed groups in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao that analysts say have pledged allegiance to IS.

He said the gunmen attacked the lightly defended outpost, then exchanged fire with troops.

“It’s already resolved. The enemy has withdrawn… they failed,” Padilla said, adding that troops were in pursuit of the militants.

Local authorities initially reported the gunmen had occupied a school before students arrived.

But Padilla made no mention of any incident at the school.

The area around Pigkawayan is made up of marshlands, mountains and farmlands.

Padilla said there were no confirmed casualties but the military had yet to locate the five people initially used as human shields.

 Philippine Marines in travel in armoured personnel carriers in Marawi. Photo: AFP

Pigkawayan town mayor Eliseo Garsesa said about 200 gunmen were involved, while a police report said there were about 300.

Padilla said the BIFF, a small insurgent group believed to have just a few hundred fighters, had seemingly sought to capitalise on the military being focused on the Marawi war.

“By and large they are just taking advantage… of the situation that we have a very slightly defended outpost and that they think our forces are elsewhere in the province,” Padilla said.

Muslim rebels have been fighting for more than four decades for an independent or autonomous region in the south of the mainly Catholic nation, with the conflict claiming more than 120,000 lives.

 A Philippine Airforce Bronco OV-10 during a bombing sortie in Marawi. Photo: AFP

The major rebel organisations have signed, or are pursuing, peace deals with the government, but small hardline groups such as the BIFF have vowed to continue fighting.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law across the southern region of Mindanao on May 23 immediately after fighters flying the IS flag rampaged through Marawi.

Their assault on Marawi ignited an unprecedented urban war that has claimed hundreds of lives and which Duterte has warned is part of an IS campaign to establish a base in Mindanao.

The fighting has left Marawi, the most important Muslim city in the Philippines, largely in ruins.

 President Rodrigo Duterte looks through the scope of a sniper rifle during inspection of firearms recovered by the troops in Butuan city, southern Philippines. Photo: EPA

The militants involved in the Marawi fighting are mostly from the Maute and Abu Sayyaf organisations, which have united with the BIFF under the IS umbrella, according to the government.

The military has said foreign fighters, including those from Chechnya, Indonesia and Malaysia, have also joined the Marawi conflict.

IS has ambitions of setting up a caliphate in Southeast Asia — home to largely Muslim nations like Indonesia and Malaysia — as the group loses territory in Iraq and Syria.

Garsesa, the town mayor, said local authorities had received text messages over the past several days about an attack somewhere in the area.

The BIFF was blamed for attacking at least nine Mindanao towns in 2008, with the assaults claiming about 400 lives and forcing 600,000 people to flee their homes.

http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/2099298/rebels-storm-philippine-village-take-over-school-battle-war

Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia uniting to crush IS

June 20, 2017
/ 02:26 PM June 20, 2017
Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia launch joint anti-ISIS patrols
News

TARAKAN, Indonesia—What is brewing in Marawi has sent a chilling message to Asean.

The growing influence of the Islamic State (IS) group coupled with a string of kidnappings by insurgent Islamist groups has forced three nations in the Asean bloc to unite and act.

Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines on Monday deployed warships to patrol the waters plagued by this threat, signaling the start of unprecedented joint patrols by the countries that share borders with one another in the area.

Warships, speedboats and helicopters maneuvered in a coordinated manner in a military drill to salvage a hijacked container vessel. This exercise marked the beginning of joint patrols that kicked off at an Indonesian naval base in the North Kalimantan capital of Tarakan.

Defense ministries and army chiefs from the three countries attended the ceremony. Singapore and Brunei Darussalam, which do not share the border, also sent observers and may take part in future sea patrols.

The patrols are aimed at turning back regional insurgencies that have escalated around the Sulu Sea, located on the border between Malaysia and the Philippines, says Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor

Photo: Islamic State affiliates

In the past few years, many ships passing through the Sulu Sea, including several Indonesian ships, have been hijacked by the Abu Sayyaf militant group, an Islamist outfit based in the southern Philippines. The group has demanded money in return for the safety of the detained crews.

There is a sense of urgency in the joint patrols following the alarming collapse of security in the southern Philippines after IS-linked fighters, including some from Indonesia and Malaysia, overran the city of Marawi.

READ: 8 foreign fighters killed in Marawi clash, says Lorenzana

In a bid to fend off the fallout from Marawi and halt the spread of IS in the region, Indonesia inaugurated a maritime command center at the Tarakan naval base, which is close to hot spots in the Sulu Sea and the southern Philippines.

The command center will link up with similar facilities in Tawau in Malaysia’s Sabah state and Bongao in the Philippines. The centers will share intelligence on the movement of terrorist groups and pirates.

Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said what happened in Marawi should serve as a reminder that Asean must unite in clamping down on IS supporters to prevent them from setting up a base in the region.

“Before they even build their Asian base, we will destroy them,” Ryamizard said.

Malaysian Defense Minister Hishamuddin Tun Hussein said he expected other Southeast Asian countries to participate in more joint patrols in the future to ensure security and safe travel throughout the region.

“Instability in one Asean country will affect all the others,” Hishamuddin said.

Indonesia suspects that foreign fighters involved in the siege of Marawi may have slipped away during the battle with Philippine military forces. It is possible the fighters mingled with evacuees in order to escape.

“We need to watch out for the 500 to 600 terrorists there. We understand 257 of them have been killed, while the rest are blending in with the refugees,” Gatot said.

Asked about the possibility of the militants slipping into Indonesia, Gatot believed they had yet to arrive. He said the TNI would intensify patrols in the border areas with the Philippines to prevent them from entering Indonesia.

“Terrorism has become transnational. The groups are connected. Therefore, efforts in counterterrorism should be held in a coordinated way. If not, we will not succeed,” Gatot said. He added that the three countries had not decided when the coordinated patrols might end.

The National Police have reported that 38 Indonesians, including one woman, are thought to have been involved in the Marawi conflict.

Four were killed and 12 others have been deported by the Philippine government. Meanwhile, 22 others are reportedly still in Marawi.

Indonesia has intensified patrols in the waters from North Sulawesi to North Kalimantan, especially around the outermost islands, which are prone to act as entry points for terrorists and insurgents from the Philippines./rg

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/158170/ph-indonesia-malaysia-uniting-crush#ixzz4kWqRrI7X
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Related:

Image result for Borneo, indonesia, philippines

Hong Kong firms join forces to make deals under Silk Road plan

June 19, 2017

Companies will draw on their experience to initially establish infrastructure projects and industrial parks in Thailand and Vietnam

By Josh Ye
South China Morning Post

Monday, June 19, 2017, 8:48pm

Hong Kong companies will form a consortium to build infrastructure projects and industrial parks in Thailand and Vietnam under mainland China’s Silk Road project, the Trade Development Council says.

Council president Vincent Lo Hong-sui said over 40 business leaders from Hong Kong and Shanghai formed a delegation while visiting the two countries last month and met both prime ministers.

He added that this was one of many steps in further involving Hong Kong companies with the “One Belt, One Road” initiative.

Lo said the statutory body was now forming “a consortium of local companies” to help them enter these developing markets as a collective force.

“We are looking to build infrastructure projects and industrial parks in countries under the belt and road initiative.”

The initiative was launched by Beijing in 2013 to promote the building of railways, roads, power plants and other infrastructure projects in 60 countries from Asia to Europe on its old Silk Road to promote trade and economic growth.

The council has identified eight countries out of the 65 under the scheme as the initial destinations for Hong Kong investment – Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Nicholas Kwan, research director at the council, said Hong Kong investors were seasoned in managing supply chain systems across countries.

 Vincent Lo says numerous multibillion-dollar deals will be closed this year. Photo: Sam Tsang

Lo said the development level of many of the belt and road countries reminded him of mainland China three decades ago.

“Hong Kong investors have garnered a lot of practical experience in developing mainland China,” he said. “This experience is unique and will definitely benefit other countries.”

He said the council aimed to close several deals this year and estimated some projects were worth more than US$10 billion.

Lo added that chief executive-elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor had told him the next administration would fully support the council in furthering deals with countries linked to the trade initiative.

The council also announced that it would host its second belt and road summit in September, which looked to introduce more concrete plans for local firms to enter relevant countries.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/economy/article/2099050/hong-kong-firms-join-forces-make-deals-under-silk-road-plan

Threat of Islamic State Terrorism Attacks in Southeast Asia is Serious

June 19, 2017
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress last week a long-running US military operation to help Philippine forces contain extremist fighters was canceled prematurely three years ago. Small numbers of US special forces remain in an “advise and assist” role, and the US is providing aerial surveillance to help the Philippines retake Marawi, an inland city of more than 200,000 people. AP/Eugene Hoshiko, File
.

WASHINGTON – Southeast Asia’s jihadis who fought by the hundreds for the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria now have a different battle closer to home in the southern Philippines. It’s a scenario raising significant alarm in Washington.

The recent assault by IS-aligned fighters on Marawi has left more than 300 people dead, exposing the shortcomings of local security forces and the extremist group’s spreading reach in a region where counterterrorism gains are coming undone.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress last week a long-running US military operation to help Philippine forces contain extremist fighters was canceled prematurely three years ago. Small numbers of US special forces remain in an “advise and assist” role, and the US is providing aerial surveillance to help the Philippines retake Marawi, an inland city of more than 200,000 people.

But lawmakers, including from President Donald Trump’s Republican Party, want a bigger US role, short of boots on the ground. They fear the area is becoming a new hub for Islamist fighters from Southeast Asia and beyond.

“I don’t know that ISIS are directing operations there but they are certainly trying to get fighters into that region,” said Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, using another acronym for the group. “We need to address the situation. It should not get out of control.”

US intelligence and counterterrorism officials note that IS has publicly accepted pledges from various groups in the Philippines. In a June 2016 video, it called on followers in Southeast Asia to go to the Philippines if they cannot reach Syria.

About 40 foreigners, mostly from neighboring Indonesia and Malaysia, have been among 500 involved in fighting in Marawi, the Philippine military says. Reports indicate at least one Saudi, a Chechen and a Yemeni killed. In all, more than 200 militants have died in the standoff, now in its fourth week.

Video obtained by The Associated Press from the Philippine military indicates an alliance of local Muslim fighters, aligned with IS, are coordinating complex attacks. They include the Islamic State’s purported leader in Southeast Asia: Isnilon Hapilon, a Filipino on Washington’s list of most-wanted terrorists, with a $5 million bounty on his head.

US officials are assessing whether any of the estimated 1,000 Southeast Asians who traveled to Iraq and Syria in recent years are fighting in Catholic-majority Philippines. They fear ungoverned areas in the mostly Muslim region around Marawi could make the area a terror hub as in the 1990s.

Then, the Philippines was a base of operations for al-Qaida leaders like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Yousef, who plotted in 1994-95 to blow up airliners over the Pacific. The plot was foiled. But the same men were instrumental in the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

Other nations share the fear. Singapore recently warned of IS exerting a radicalizing influence “well beyond” what that of al-Qaida and Jemaah Islamiyah ever mustered. Jemaah Islamiyah carried out major terror attacks around the region in the 2000s. IS already has been linked to attacks in Indonesia and Malaysia, and foiled plots in Singapore, this past year.

This month, Mattis told the region’s defense chiefs that “together we must act now to prevent this threat from growing.” In Congress this past week, he stressed intelligence sharing and nations like Singapore sharing the burden, rather than deploying U.S. troops.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor

Photo: Islamic State affiliates in the Philippines

More than 500 US special forces were based in the Mindanao region from 2002 to 2014, advising and training Filipino forces against the Abu Sayyaf, a group notorious for bombings and kidnappings. When it ended, Philippine and U.S. officials voiced concern the U.S. withdrawal “could lead to a resurgence of a renewed terrorist threat,” the RAND Corp. later reported. Months before the withdrawal, Abu Sayyaf pledged support to IS.

Supporting the Philippines isn’t straightforward in Washington. President Rodrigo Duterte is accused of overlooking and even condoning indiscriminate killings by his forces in a war on drugs. Thousands have died. But that campaign has involved mainly police and anti-narcotic forces, not the military leading the anti-IS fight.

Still, the Philippine government is partly to blame for Marawi’s violence, said Zachary Abuza, a Southeast Asia expert at the National War College. He said the root cause was the government’s failure to fulfill a 2014 peace agreement with the nation’s largest Muslim insurgency, which fueled recruitment for IS-inspired groups.

Ernst, who chairs a Senate panel on emerging threats, wants the US military to restart a higher-profile, “named operation” helping the Philippines counter IS. The Pentagon retains between 50 and 100 special forces in the region. At the request of the Philippine military, it has deployed a P3 Orion plane to Marawi. It gave more than 600 assault firearms to Filipino counterterrorism forces last week.

Duterte has retreated from threats to expel US forces from the Philippines as he seeks better ties with China. He said recently he hadn’t sought more US help, but was thankful for what he was getting.

“They’re there to save lives,” Duterte said.

Indonesia re-positions military including Sukhoi jets in case Islamic State militants escape from the Philippines

June 18, 2017

Reuters

.
Image result for indonesia, Sukhoi fighters, photos

Indonesia has deployed Sukhoi fighters at a base in northern Borneo to beef up security in case Islamist militants who overran a town in the Philippines try to flee southwards, an air force colonel told the Antara news agency.

The head of the air base in Tarakan, a town in the Indonesian province of North Kalimantan on Borneo, said three Sukhoi jets that arrived on Friday would remain for a month in case radicals fighting the Philippine military in Marawi City sought to escape to Indonesia.

Image result for Borneo, indonesia, philippines

“The militants might flee the Philippines and be forced to cross the border to Indonesia,” the Indonesian state news agency cited Colonel Didik Krisyanto as saying.

The Philippine military said on Friday that some of the Islamist militants who stormed Marawi City in the south of the country last month may have mingled with evacuees to slip away during the battle that has raged for almost four weeks.

The military says that up to 200 fighters, most of them from local insurgent groups that have pledged allegiance to Islamic State but also some foreign fighters, are holding out, using civilians as human shields and mosques as safe havens.

Image result for indonesia, Sukhoi fighters, photos

The devastating collapse in security has alarmed neighbors such as Indonesia and Malaysia, and defense and army chiefs from the three countries are due to meet in Tarakan on Monday for a ceremony to mark the launch of patrols in the seas between the countries.

A port town, Tarakan is just south of the Malaysian side of Borneo and looks out across the sea to Mindanao in the southern Philippines, a sprawling island that has been plagued by insurgencies and banditry for decades.

Indonesian naval authorities had also asked local people including fishermen in border areas facing the Philippines to report any suspicious people, Antara reported.

A police mobile brigade corp had also been sent to northern areas on Sulawesi island to prevent militants from crossing the border, it said.

On Monday, Indonesia will inaugurate a maritime command center in Tarakan and also hold a ceremony on an Indonesian warship with Malaysian and Philippine officials to launch patrols.

Singapore and Brunei will be attending as observers.

The commander of Tarakan’s naval base, First Admiral Ferial Fachroni, told Reuters the other countries would also establish command centers to help in the sharing of information.

Fachroni said the army, navy and air forces would be involved in patrols but more discussions were needed to pin down whether they would be joint or coordinated.

(Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Louise Heavens)