15 Asia Pacific Countries to Meet on Tracking Terrorism Funding

By Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata
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150821_ID_FUNDRAISING_620.jpg Mosque-goers listen to a fundraising presentation at At-Taqwa Mosque, Kemanggisan, West Jakarta, Dec. 15, 2013.

Indonesia and Australia will host a summit of 15 Asian Pacific countries in November to discuss staunching the flow of terrorism funding, in the first gathering of its kind.

Australia and Indonesia’s financial intelligence units, AUSTRAC and the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK), will co-host the event, to be held in Sydney.

“We will share our knowledge on how to identify terrorism funding through non-banking channels and how to detect banking transactions that may have links to terrorism funding,” Muhammad Yusuf, the head of PPATK, told BenarNews.

The conference will also solicit new ideas on how to tackle terrorism funding, he said.

In a press release, the Australian Embassy in Jakarta said the summit would boost collective efforts to track terrorism financing and the proceeds of crime through a range of financial channels.

“Australia welcomes this unprecedented collaboration between our two countries, because following the money trail is an essential element of tackling terrorism and organized crime, and international cooperation is vital in detecting and disrupting illegal operations,” it said.

Participants will include law enforcement and national security officials, policy-makers, industry figures and academics from ASEAN and other key countries, who are at the forefront of countering terrorism financing and violent extremism.

Yusuf said that PPATK would gather a delegation of 20 representatives from various government institutions, banks and banking regulator in Indonesia for the summit.


The plan to co-host the summit was announced this week during the visit of Australia’s Justice Minister and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Counter Terrorism Michael Keenan.

It marked the first visit to Indonesia by a high-ranking Australian official since ties between the two countries cooled considerably following Indonesia’s execution of two Australian drug convicts – Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran – earlier this year.

During his visit, Keenan met with Vice President Jusuf Kalla and discussed increasing bilateral security cooperation.

Keenan said that Australia could learn from Indonesia, based on the tolerance and respect widely practiced in its multi-faith society.

“I have been pleased to have discussions with the vice president about why those values remain so important, particularly in the world where those values are under challenge by radical and violent terrorist organizations,” Keenan said at the Vice Presidential Palace on Aug. 19.

Like Indonesians, Australians are vulnerable to recruitment by the so-called Islamic State (IS) group that has proclaimed a “caliphate” for itself in parts of Iraq and Syria, he said.

“Obviously the Indonesian government, like the Australian government, is concerned about the reach of this barbarous terrorist organization in the Middle East and the methods that they use to radicalize people – and we are very concerned about them radicalizing young Australians – are very similar in Australia as they are in Indonesia,” Keenan said.

“So it’s good for us to be able to share that experience, but also to share strategies for combatting it as well,” he said.


Indonesian terrorism experts have warned that money collected for humanitarian aid to help Muslims in Syria could be misused to finance terrorism activities.

In March 2013, the Muslim Concern for Syria and Palestine Forum (FIPS) raised over Rp 30 million (U.S. $2,145) for Syrian Muslims at a mosque in Cibubur, on the eastern outskirts of Jakarta.

Terrorism expert Al Chaidar said that charity drives hosted by religious institutions are mostly transparent and accountable.

But he also said that such fundraising is vulnerable to misuse, citing a case in Aceh where money was raised in the name of Muslim solidarity with Palestinians. It was later discovered that the fundraising group had links to Dulmatin, one of the 2002 Bali bombers.

Indonesia needs more monitoring of such fundraising activities, especially when money is channeled through traditional means known as hawala. The hawala system enables remission of money across international borders without any actual movement of currency, completely outside of formal financial institutions.

PPATK’s Yusuf added that Indonesia would also propose an exchange program for financial intelligence agents from the participating countries, as PPATK and AUSTRAC have done.

He said the exchange of PPATK and AUSTRAC agents had resulted in uncovering a syndicate of online children prostitution and money laundering from tobacco smuggling.

“Through the summit, we hope to be able to do that with other Asia Pacific countries,” Yusuf said.


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