At Saudi Summit, Muslim Nations Vow to Wipe Out Terrorism

BenarNews staff
170522_ID_summit_620.jpg Indonesian President Joko Widodo (third from left, front) and other leaders of Muslim-majority countries pose with U.S. President Donald Trump (third from right, front) at the Arab-Islamic-American Summit in Riyadh, May 21, 2017.
Courtesy of Press Bureau, Indonesian Presidential Palace

Leaders of Muslim nations called for unity and a cohesive strategy to fight terrorism, after U.S. President Donald Trump during an unprecedented summit in Saudi Arabia urged them to do their share to defeat "Islamist" extremists and "drive out" terrorists.

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina both proposed that governments cut funding to Islamic terror groups, and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak called for de-radicalization to be at the center of counter-terrorism efforts, saying that more non-military measures were needed to “win hearts and minds.”

The three Asian leaders delivered their messages in speeches on Sunday that followed President Trump’s landmark speech to delegates from 55 majority-Muslim nations at the Arab-Islamic-American Summit, hosted by Saudi Arabia in Riyadh.

The 45th American president, who was on the first stop of his first overseas trip as commander-in-chief, said Muslim nations could not wait for the United States to destroy the Islamic State (IS), al-Qaeda and other terror groups.

“A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists,” Trump said in his address.

“That goal is to meet history’s greatest test – to conquer extremism and vanquish the forces of terrorism,” Trump said.

Jokowi, the leader of the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, said the nations of the Islamic world could only rid themselves of that scourge by coming together to fight it.

“Muslim unity is key to success in combating terrorism. We must not use up our energy in mutual enmity,” the Indonesian president said in his speech.

Jokowi called for increased multilateral cooperation, including sharing intelligence and stopping terrorism funding.

“We all know how much money flows to the grassroots in many countries for spreading extremist and radical ideology,” he said.

Efforts to resolve the root causes of terrorism must be stepped up as well, such as by addressing inequality and injustice and promoting economic empowerment, he added.

“Every one of us must be brave to be part of the solution and not part of the problem in our efforts to eradicate terrorism. Each of us must be part of the world peace-building effort,” Jokowi said.

In her speech that was distributed but not read out at the summit, Hasina echoed Jokowi’s call for cutting off terror financing.

“We must stop the source of supply of arms to terrorists and we have to stop the flow of financing to the terrorists and their outfits,” the Bangladeshi prime minister said.

She also advised world leaders to not use the word “Islam” in referring to terrorists, according to excerpts of her speech published by Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS), the national news agency.

“Terrorists do not have any religion, belief or racial identity, though they may come from any religious background,” Hasina said.

‘Not just military’

Malaysia’s Najib said the summit could not be more timely. “The world needs to be reminded today that the Muslim nations present today completely condemn terrorism and violent extremism,” he said.

“The fight against terrorism is not just military: it is also about winning hearts and minds,” he said. “To do this, a credible narrative needs to be told, in which Islam and modernity are compatible; material progress and religious devotion go hand-in-hand; and religious knowledge and scientific inquiry mutually reinforce one another.”

Malaysia’s leader touted his country’s de-radicalization program’s 95 percent success rate in reintegrating former extremists and offered to share the program’s expertise with other nations.

Jokowi also discussed Indonesia’s similar success.

“In our de-radicalization programs, for example, Indonesian authorities involve relatives, and relatives of former terrorists who have changed their views, and civil society organizations,” he said.

Counter-terrorist centers

The two-day summit in the Saudi capital included more than just talk about taking down militant organizations.

Trump announced that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia had signed an agreement to form the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center and that they would be joined by five Gulf states. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the center’s goals are to identify, track, and share information regarding terrorist financial networks; coordinate joint disruptive actions, and; offer support to countries in the region that need assistance building capacity to counter terrorist finance threats.

The center adds to a growing list aimed at destroying Islamic and other extremist groups, including two established sites and one being developed in Malaysia.

Najib’s country is home to an online counter-extremist messaging center overseen by the Royal Malaysia Police and the Southeast Asia Regional Center for Counter-Terrorism, operated under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with assistance from the U.S. State Department.

A third center, the King Salman Center for International Peace, backed by Saudi Arabia, will take an academic approach to conducting research into and countering ideology spread by IS and other extremist groups when it opens later this year.

Tia Asmara in Jakarta, Razlan Rashid in Kuala Lumpur and Shahriar Sharif in Dhaka contributed to this report.


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