Call to ASEAN leaders to combat threat of ISIS

National 1 minute, 51 seconds


THE United States has called for leadership from ASEAN countries – including Brunei – to combat the growing threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group.

US State Department Special Representative to Muslim Communities, Shaarik Zafar, said Brunei is uniquely placed to engage ASEAN members to have “frank conversations” about religious extremism.

“We think there’s a role to play for all the countries in Southeast Asia... What we’re looking for is continued leadership,” he told local media in an interview on Wednesday.

Zafar was in the Sultanate for a two-day visit where he met with His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and senior religious officials to discuss US engagement with the Muslim world.

“It’s a very strong relationship… there are a number of opportunities ranging from HM’s very strong statements condemning terrorism,” Zafar said.

He outlined the US five-pronged approach to target ISIS, which includes providing military support to countries involved in direct conflict with ISIS fighters; ensuring foreigners don’t travel to Iraq and Syria; cutting off terrorist financing; humanitarian assistance to those in conflict zones; and combating hard-line ideology.

“Perhaps the most important over the long term is fighting the ideology and the message (of ISIS),” the envoy said.

“We need more action to combat the ideology. Governments aren’t necessarily in the best place to lead because we don’t have the credibility. Often times it is religious leaders, communities, mothers, parents, teachers.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry was also in Jakarta this week to meet with leaders of Muslim-majority Southeast Asian nations to bolster support against ISIS.

Kerry urged ASEAN leaders to do more to stem the flow of foreign fighters the Middle East and choke off financing to the militants.

During the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Milan earlier this month, His Majesty also gave strong support to two recent UN Security Council Resolutions aimed at suppressing the activities of terrorist groups.

Brunei, like other ASEM member countries, believes that the root causes of terrorism and extremism should be addressed in a comprehensive manner, the monarch said.

His Majesty also welcomed more information-sharing between national law enforcement agencies to combat terrorist activities.

The Brunei Times