Australia is being used to interfere in the security of regional countries under the pretext of “anti-terror” cooperation. In a meeting last year in Washington attended by Australian attorney general, George Brandis, Australia was given the role to lead regional conferences in stopping radicalisation, particularly online and in prisons.
The exaggerated and manufactured threat of the ISIS group is being constantly used to justify a rallying of the world around American interests; South East Asia being no exception.
A specific pattern can be seen before major anti-terror conferences and any major introduction of draconian ‘anti-terror’ laws, which arouse suspicion over the actual size of the threat as well as whose interests do such threats serve? Whether it be here in Australia, Indonesia or Malaysia, we have witnessed a circus around “foiled attacks” and even anticipated attacks that actually eventuated weeks after their prediction by politicians.
Any attentive observer to global events would realise that hegemonic America is manufacturing a threat in order to rally countries against the Islamic revival that is occurring across the Muslim world. The uprisings in the Muslim world, although far from realising liberation from western political, economic and military occupation, have nonetheless shaken the thrones of the imperialist powers that have suffocated the world for over the best part of the last century.
Michael Brissenden reported this story on Wednesday, January 27, 2016 08:05:00
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: And to discuss more on the issue of extremism and terrorism in south-east Asia, I’m joined live on the line by the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter Terrorism Michael Keenan.
Michael Keenan has just returned from discussing the issue at an international conference in Malaysia on de-radicalisation and countering violent extremism.
Michael Keenan welcome to the program
MICHAEL KEENAN: Good morning Michael.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: As you’ve heard there, security in Kuala Lumpur has been stepped up since the Jakarta blasts.
There does appear to be a link between the Indonesian attack and extremists in Malaysia.
Are our regional neighbours doing enough to combat this threat?
MICHAEL KEENAN: Well there’s not a great surprise that there’s links between Indonesian and Malaysian radicals, because unfortunately those links have been well-documented for some time.
Look certainly they have, in Malaysia, in a very similar way to Australia, they have taken steps over the past 18 months to strengthen the legal regime in which their agencies work and actually have been very successful in stopping domestic attacks on Malaysian soil, of which they’ve stopped several over the past period of 18 months or so.
So certainly in Malaysia they have taken significant steps to secure their own country.
Look in the same way others in the region have. This threat is very well known in the region and it’s also very well understood, and the seriousness of it has been brought home to everyone again with those attacks in Jakarta over the past fortnight.
So look, I think the region is responding well, but it is a very significant challenge.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: So that’s Malaysia and Indonesia.
There are concerns, clearly, in other countries like Thailand and particularly the Philippines.
We’ve seen already the establishment of a caliphate in the southern Philippines.
Are those countries getting more and more worried?
MICHAEL KEENAN: look, they are very concerned.
The Philippines has been subject to significant insurgencies over many, many years, and some of that insurgency is based in the southern areas, which are the majority Muslim areas of the Philippines.
So look, they are very concerned, and what we don’t want to see is ISIL being able to gain a foothold in the region, and some of those areas down in the Malaysian, Indonesia, Filipino border are traditionally quite porous and of course it’s very hard to police those borders, because those borders are very large.
So we are working with the Philippines, working with Malaysia and we’re working with Indonesia to do what we can to assist, to stop ISIL from gaining a foothold.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Because it is becoming a growing problem, isn’t it?
As we heard there, 500 Indonesians have been to Syria, at least 50 Malaysians, presumably quite a few from other countries in the region, and as we know most of those return to their countries intent on carrying out, continuing their terrorist activity.
MICHAEL KEENAN: well the challenge for those countries is exactly the same as Australia, and that is when your nationals go and fight alongside ISIL in Syria they will come back radicalised, they will come back with a network of international contacts, and they will come back with the skills that could do the country harm.
So this is something that we need to work together on, and that’s why the Government has been out in the region, talking to our partners, about how we’re going to improve cooperation, how we’re going to share expertise, particularly the expertise available through the Australian Federal Police.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: I guess the question I’m asking though is: is it working?
It seems to be a battle we’re continually fighting and not really getting anywhere with.
MICHAEL KEENAN: Well look, I would dispute that, I mean it’s a very significant challenge but I think we’ve certainly got somewhere and the fact that our partners have been able to foil plots in the same way that Australia has is an indication that what our authorities are doing is actually effective.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Okay. We’ve heard there, and it’s been acknowledged in the past, there is a growing problem with radicalisation in Indonesia’s jails in particular, but you’ve also acknowledged there’s a problem here in Australia.
How confident are you that the Government’s de-radicalisation program here, in our jails, is actually working?
MICHAEL KEENAN: Well I mean with all these things it’s not a magic bullet, it’s not the case that if there was any criminal class that we could put them through a program with 100 per cent certainty say that they’ve been reformed.
But we are working to do all that we can to first of all stop people from becoming more radicalised if they are in our prisons, and we’re working very closely with the states on that; and we’re also working to make sure that people who have been radicalised can be brought back from there, if you like.
But look, it would be wrong of anyone to expect 100 per cent certainty that we would be able to reform anyone who comes to attention as being a radicalised prisoner, but look, those efforts I think are being effective, and we are seeing some success.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: How do you test that success? How do you know?
MICHAEL KEENAN: Look, over time we’re obviously going to get a better idea, but we will be able to measure these things, I suppose, by making sure that once people are released from prison, once they’ve served their time, about their behaviour.
So it’s going to be a long term project.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: And we have seen some who have served time actually travel to the Middle East to continue their activity.
Are you confident that you can stop that happening in the future?
MICHAEL KEENAN: Well, we have been very effective in stopping Australians from going to contribute to that conflict, and the Foreign Minister has cancelled I think about 120 passports to date to stop Australians from going there.
We’ve also stood up units at the airport, counter-terrorism units, to specifically identify and stop people from travelling.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Some are slipping, still slipping through the net though, aren’t they?
MICHAEL KEENAN: Look, smaller and smaller numbers I might say, Michael.
We have been very effective in stopping Australians from going to support that conflict.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Okay. Can I just ask you quickly about the republic debate, which does seem to be getting some renewed momentum at the moment.
Where do you stand on that, and should we have an Australian head of state, and if so, how soon?
MICHAEL KEENAN: Well I think that the Government should be concentrating on things that are tangibly going to improve the lives of Australians, and I might say that the republican debate, I think our constitutional arrangements are probably good at enlivening dinner parties in some parts of the country, but it’s not really going to make a significant difference to our lives, so I think that the Government should be concentrating on far more fundamental issues than that.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Okay Michael Keenan we’ll leave it there, thanks very much for joining us.
MICHAEL KEENAN: Nice to talk to you Michael.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Justice Minister Michael Keenan.
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