April 12, 2013
Halting the flow of illicit funds across borders is a major concern for those seeking to counter global terrorism networks. This month, Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) officials considered the problem at a two-day forum in Surabaya, Indonesia.
The Counter-Terrorism Task Force (CTTF) session, held April 7th- 8th, is one of a series of meetings – totaling 38 in all -- being held as part of an APEC conference. Approximately 2,000 representatives from 21 member countries and three observer states have gathered in Surabaya for the events.
At their session, CTTF members agreed that countries must work together to prevent extremist outfits from gaining access to funds needed to finance their violent activities.
Harry Purwanto, chairman of the task force, shared Indonesia's experience with forum participants, who included representatives from the United States, Canada, China, Mexico, Australia and Russia.
"The Russian Intelligence Agency (FSB) and several financial and property institutions across the world want to draw on the experience of Indonesia in tackling terrorism in their respective countries," Harry told reporters later.
Indonesian officials say the link between terrorism and drug cartels is of special concern. In the Middle East and Asia, militants enter the drug trade to obtain additional funding for their ideological causes.
Speaking to Khabar Southeast Asia, Indonesian National Police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said domestic terrorists are also turning to armed robbery as a way of drumming up funds.
"This we found in many recent robberies and gold heists," he said, adding that the trend was likely to continue for a while.
"What we need to do is to anticipate further similar types of terrorism funding," he told Khabar.
Surabaya residents contacted by Khabar said they worry about terrorism's impact on the economy and are glad to see region-wide initiatives aimed at tackling the problem.
"This is a good effort," Meira Sari, a finance student at Petra University in Surabaya, told Khabar by phone. "It means we are not only working on our own. Even though the terrorism style in Indonesia is rather fragmented and on a small scale, cross-nation co-operation efforts can cover possible funding from other countries to Indonesia."
"Any direct threats to one of our members can influence the economy. Terrorist acts are also direct threats to the organisation's vision of security and economic growth," she continued.