Australia, SE Asia need to 're-double' efforts to avoid Paris-style attacks

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 08, 2015 11:48 PM

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Australia and Southeast Asia must re-double efforts to share intelligence and make sure Paris-style terror attacks can't be replicated in the region, Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan said on Wednesday.

Hundreds of Indonesian Islamic State sympathizers and some Malaysians and Singaporeans are believed to have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq. Southeast Asia faces the risk of attack when they return, Malaysia has said.

"The fact that the national security situation has significantly deteriorated for all of the countries in the region, including Australia, means we need to re-double those efforts," Keenan, who is also Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Counter Terrorism, told Reuters in an interview in Singapore.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the deaths of 130 people in attacks in Paris last month, the deadliest in France since World War Two.

Keenan also denounced comments by U.S. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump who has called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States following last week's massacre in San Bernardino, California, by a Muslim couple.

"That is entirely the wrong response," Keenan said. "When we look at Southeast Asia, we get a good example that we are not somehow at war with a particular religion. And neither do we need to target Muslim Australians or anywhere else in the world."

Australia next week marks the anniversary of a siege in central Sydney in which a gunman with radical Islamist sympathies took over a central city cafe. Two hostages and the gunman were killed when police stormed the building.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo; Additional reporting by Fathin Ungku in SINGAPORE; Editing by Nick Macfie)