EU stresses ASEAN cooperation in fighting terrorism

Lian Buan

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EU stresses ASEAN cooperation in fighting terrorism
'Tensions and radicalization in the Asia-Pacific can destabilize the world well beyond your region,' EU President Donald Tusk tells Southeast Asian leaders

MANILA, Philippines – European Council President Donald Tusk on Tuesday, November 14, stressed on the importance of cooperation between Europe and Southeast Asia to fight radicalization.

Tusk addressed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-EU Summit on Tuesday, where he is attending as a dialogue partner of ASEAN.

Tusk said “tensions and radicalization in the Asia-Pacific can destabilize the world well beyond your region.”

“We can mitigate this threat if we work together, sharing information on suspects and trends of concern,” he said.

ASEAN and EU already have an information-sharing mechanism through the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) and the European Police Office (Europe), according to Tusk.

“If we look at security issues, it is evident how close our regions have become,” he said.

Attacks on Europe

Europe has been hit by a succession of terror attacks over the years. Two years ago, on November 13, 2015, the French capital Paris saw a series of coordinated terror attacks that killed 130 people, and injured hundreds of others.

In March 2016, 32 people died in suicide bombings which occurred in an airport and train station near the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

It was quickly followed by the ISIS-claimed attack in Nice, France when a man rammed a truck into a crowd, killing 86.

Other recent ISIS-claimed attacks were the New Year’s Day attack in Istanbul, Turkey and the attack during poster Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester in England.

Meanwhile, experts point to Southeast Asia as a key recruitment center for ISIS. The Marawi Crisis that tore apart the Islamic City for 5 months was claimed by ISIS, and carried out by Isnilon Hapilon, its supposed emir in the region.

When Philippine military killed Hapilon, ISIS is said to have designated Malaysian Amin Baco.

Moreover, in a report in August, the United Nations (UN) said that “foreign terrorist fighters apprehended near the Syrian Arab Republic have specifically requested to be deported to South-East Asia.”

Money flow from Europe

But Europe is a strategic place too, according to UN. They said that it’s the European foreign fighters who provide the money flow for ISIS.

They do this through “public benefit fraud, consumer loan fraud, financial crime, such as value-added tax fraud, and the collection of donations, including through social media.”

But the UN said this will open windows to authorities to catch the fighters, and that the lesser crimes may pave the way for prosecution and eventually use that as an opportunity to gather evidence for terrorism.

Tusk said they hope to learn counter-terrorism techniques from ASEAN countries.

This is the first time that EU is attending the East Asia Summit, and Tusk is expected to bring this issue to the table.

“Many of our interests coincide, as do many of the challenges we face. Forty years on, I am personally very glad we have the ASEAN-EU ready and available as a bridge between Asia and Europe in troubling times,” he said.

In his opening statement, President Rodrigo Duterte, who holds the ASEAN’s rotating chairmanship, said the summit will “provide directions to bring ASEAN-EU relations to new heights.” –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.