Australia holds emergency counter terrorism meeting in Indonesia

Australia holds emergency counter terrorism meeting in Indonesia”

Indonesia's Security Minister Wiranto described terrorism as a threat to humanity.

President Rodrigo Duterte placed the southern Philippines' island of Mindanao under martial law on May 23 following an attack by the Maute group in Marawi, which to date has seen 471 terrorists, 114 government troops, and 45 civilians killed.

"And it is appropriate, therefore, that a principle focus of this meeting will be on cross-border terrorism and foreign fighters' threats dramatized, as it has been, by recent events in the southern Philippines", Mr Brandis added.

The meeting was co-hosted by Indonesia and Australia.

Armed police keep watch as men suspected of being en route to reinforce Marawi militants arrive at the Department of Justice in Manila on Friday.

The Australia government said that the meeting was the need of the hour as the number of ISIS-inspired militants is expected to rise in the region.

"These include the deep-seated political distrust between the Philippines and Malaysia that impedes information sharing; concern from Indonesia and Malaysia police about mixed loyalties of local counterparts in Mindanao, especially given clan and family links; and institutional disjunctures that give the lead in counter-terrorism to the police in Indonesia and Malaysia but to the military in the Philippines".

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Representatives from four Southeast Asian nations, Australia and New Zealand met in the Indonesian city of Manado on Saturday to develop a response to the increased danger posed by IS, highlighted by the occupation of parts of the southern Philippines city of Marawi by militants owing allegiance to the group.

Touching on the conflict in Marawi, Australian Attorney General George Brandis said in his opening speech that the conflict "reminds us, in the most immediate possible way, of the urgency and the proximity of the threat that is faced by all of us".

"[Those] unscrupulous individuals are recruiting male civilians in Mindanao to be "integrated" into AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] using the name of the MNLF [Moro Nation Liberation Front] and other groups".

Besides Marawi, which is the main agenda item, the forum will hear discussions of ways to enhance intelligence-sharing among security agencies in the region to enable them to detect cross-border movement of potential terrorists in the sub-region and to disrupt terrorist networks.

"We have also thwarted 12 terrorism attacks on Australian soil during that time, nearly all of them (IS) inspired". "Still ongoing... My statement and the public knowing about their arrest hopefully will counter whatever plans if any the recruiters have", Dureza said in a text message.

"I think Australians understand that we are threatened just as our regional partners are threatened and I think we all understand that this threat is best thwarted if we work collaboratively together".

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