Leaders of Asian and Pacific Rim countries took a two-pronged approach during meetings in Manila and Kuala Lumpur on Thursday toward battling terrorism following deadly terror attacks in Paris.
In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia responded to unconfirmed terrorist threats by boosting security at the 27th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
In the Philippine capital, member-states of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum closed their summit by condemning recent attacks claimed by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group.
Malaysia’s police chief announced enhanced security – including at all national entry and exit points – following reports of imminent threats directed at the ASEAN summit that ends Sunday. Military personnel were working with police to ensure security for the Malaysian people and foreign guests, he said.
“Terrorism and violent extremism have no place in Malaysia, and we will not cease to hunt down and deal with anyone who seeks to undermine the peace and stability of our country,” Malaysian Police Inspector-General Khalid Abu Bakar said.
Those attending the meeting in Kuala Lumpur also focused on combatting terrorism, and the host country signed an agreement with the United States to cooperate in stopping serious crime. The deal builds on an agreement allowing the two countries to exchange biographic data of known and suspected terrorists, by focusing on cooperation in the detection, prevention and investigation of felonies.
As part of the agreement, the Malaysian government would have access to a database containing biometric information on 1.2 million people suspected of terrorist and other criminal links.
“From the intelligence information gathered, some groups may be motivated by what happened in Paris and may try to repeat it here,” Channel News Asa quoted Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as saying.
“I am confident our authorities are on top of the situation to ensure similar attacks will not happen here.”
He was referring to Friday’s attacks by IS in the French capital, which killed at least 128 and injured dozens more.
APEC: Prosperity a weapon against radicalism
In Manila, leaders from 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries attendees came out strongly against terrorists in their closing declaration on Thursday, pointing to that attacks as well as a deadly attack in Beirut and the bombing of a Russian airliner over the Sinai, which were also claimed by IS.
“We will not allow terrorism to threaten the fundamental values that underpin our free and open economies. Economic growth, prosperity, and opportunity are among the most powerful tools to address the root causes of terrorism and radicalization,” the declaration stated. “We stress the urgent need for increased international cooperation and solidarity in the fight against terrorism.”
The declaration welcomed APEC members’ efforts to counter terrorism, including through initiatives to combat terrorist financing and prevent foreign terrorists from crossing international boundaries through analysis of passenger data and other measures.
The declaration went on to encourage trade strategy along with collective and individual efforts to secure infrastructure, travel, supply chains and financial systems.
Officials in Southeast Asia, the venue for both summits, say they are contending with an emerging threat from efforts by IS to recruit young people from across the region, for its jihadist cause in the Middle East.
Authorities in the two ASEAN countries with the largest Muslim populations, Indonesia and Malaysia, have also warned that local recruits returning from combat duty in Syria or Iraq could plot terrorist attacks on home soil.
About 514 Indonesians and up to 100 Malaysians have traveled to the Middle East to join IS, according to counter-terrorism officials in both countries. At least 14 Malaysians and around 50 Indonesians, respectively, have died fighting for IS in the Mid-East, officials told BenarNews.