Rohingya crisis a ‘major security threat’

By , 25/04/2020 19:38

Peter Dutton is expected to warn of the threat posed by terrorists using technology to plan attacks. Peter Dutton has warned of the increased danger of terrorists using the dark web.

Malaysia’s prime minister has warned and its Southeast Asian neighbours that the Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar could explode into a serious security threat for the region.

As a major counter-terrorism conference at the special ASEAN summit in Sydney wrapped up on Saturday, Najib Razak warned that thousands of desperate Rohingya people in Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine state could easily be potential recruits for Islamic State.

“Because of the suffering of Rohingya people and that of displacement around the region, the situation in Rakhine state and Myanmar can no longer be considered to be a purely domestic matter,” he told his fellow ASEAN leaders.

They included Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and summit host, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

“In addition, the problem should not be looked at through the humanitarian prism only because it has the potential of developing into a serious security threat to the region.

“Rakhine with thousands of despairing …. people who see no hope in the future will be a fertile ground for radicalisation and recruitment by Daesh and affiliated groups.”

About 700,000 Rohingya have already fled Myanmar for refugee camps in neighbouring Bangladesh since last August following a military crackdown.

Mr Turnbull has been under pressure to raise the crisis with Ms Suu Kyi, who is in Sydney for the summit and bilateral talks.

He’s been criticised by humanitarian groups for being too cautious in not calling for Myanmar to be held to account for causing the crisis, and urged to lead a regional response.

The warning about the potential targeting of the Rohingya by IS came as the 10 ASEAN members and signed off on a memorandum of understanding to bolster efforts to counter international terrorism.

Mr Turnbull said the MOU was backed by a suite of programs aimed at developing best practice counter-terrorism laws, as well as ways to help authorities gather electronic evidence of terrorist activities and stop online radicalisation.

“We must remain united in the face of terror in all its forms,” he said.

“Reacting is not enough. We must and we will, through united efforts, stay ahead of this threat.”

Mr Turnbull said regional security issues would be at the heart of talks the ASEAN leaders hold in Sydney on Sunday, the final day of the special summit.

Earlier, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton singled out terrorists using the dark web and encrypted messages to plot attacks and recruit new members as posing the greatest security threat to the region.

He also said and the 10 ASEAN member countries faced an ongoing challenge from foreign fighters returning to the region from Syria and Iraq.

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