JAKARTA, Indonesia: Asia is succeeding in its fight against Islamic terrorism, but militants blamed for a string of attacks in the region are continually changing tactics and remain a threat, Australian and Indonesian ministers said Monday.
“We have foiled terrorist plots, captured and prosecuted terrorists and disrupted their networks, but they are still out there,” said Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer at the start of a two-day meeting of six Asia-Pacific nations hit by terrorism. “Even as our capacity to stop them improves, their methods and abilities become more sophisticated.”
Militants from the al-Qaida linked Jemaah Islamiyah terror group have carried out a series of bloody bombings and failed plots in the region since 2000, most of them in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation.
“We owe it to our citizens to wage an effective battle against terrorism,” said Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda, adding more regional cooperation was needed to “counter the clever and seductive propaganda of the terrorists.”
Jemaah Islamiyah’s core membership are Indonesian and Malaysians who fought in Afghanistan. It has been decimated by some 200 arrests in recent years, but police warn that several of its members remain on the run and are likely planning new attacks.
Countries represented at the meeting also include Philippines, which is fighting the Abu Sayyaf militant group, Thailand, where militants are fighting for an Islamic state in the south, and Malaysia and Singapore, which have both locked up scores of militants in recent years.