Australia: The Funding Capital for the Islamic State in Southeast Asia

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In the aftermath, of the Jakarta, Indonesia terrorist attacks, investigators began to investigate a suspicious money trail that lead all the way to Australia. Just a few weeks prior to the terrorist attacks, authorities from Australia and Indonesia arrested an Australian jihadist supporter, who was transferring $500,000 USD to Islamist groups in Indonesia.

Luhut Binsar Pajaitan,  Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, noted  the day after the Jakarta terrorist incident that funding for this attack could have come from Australia. He saw a flow of money from the country some time ago, according to Indonesia’s Financial Transactions and Analysis Centre (INTRAC/PPATK).

Augus Santoso, deputy chairman of Indonesia’s Financial Transactions and Analysis Centre,  noted what the money is used for: recruitment, training, arms purchases, and supporting the families of martyr’s.

Around 200 Indonesian men have gone off to Syria to  fight with the Islamic State (IS) and 60 have been killed.

Suspected terrorist cells have been known to move between southeast Asian countries, especially in areas where borders are porous, such as the Island of Kalimantan, shared by Indonesia and Malaysia, and between the Philippines and the southwest Sulawesi Island of Indonesia.

The Australian government estimates some 120 Australians are in Iraq and Syria and are supporting the Islamic State and other extremist groups, with another 160 actively supporting extremism at home through financing and recruiting.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) has noted there are 500,000 Muslims  living in Australia, and also have 400 mosques to serve them.

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) found the volume of terrorism financing in Australia is linked to a number of Australians traveling to Syria and Iraq to fight for the Islamic State.

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre black flagged 536 financial transactions  which were connected to terrorism in 2014-2015. A total of 367 financial transactions that were deemed suspicious were submitted to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Security Intelligence Organization. A total of $53 million questionable transactions were linked to funding terrorism.

Cooperation with Australian authorities has allowed both institutions to detect billions of rupiah suspected in being used for terrorist activities. The Financial Transaction and Analysis Centre and Australian Transaction Report and Analysis Centre,  through a three year study found that $5 billion rupiah in money transfers from a suspected terror cell in Australia and sent to  Indonesia.

Muhammad Yusuf, the head of the Financial Transaction Analysis Centre, notes that Australians are tricked into giving money to a foundation or for starting a business.

Mr. Yusuf also noted that his agency has been able to freeze $2.1 billion in rupiah of 26 individuals and entities with ties to al-Qaeda and the Taliban in accordance to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267.

In June 2015, the Financial Action Task Force on Money laundering (FAFT), removed Indonesia  from a list of countries that have high probabilities of money laundering to support terrorism.

Augus Sontoso, believes the working relationship between Indonesia and Australia will be a model for financial intelligence units in neighboring Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines. This could help track the flow of money between the Association of Southeastern Nations (ASEAN) member states allegedly used to fund terrorism activities.

The joint partnership between Indonesia and Australia is a model for many countries not just in Southeastern Asia to follow, but for all countries to adopt.




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