Indonesian terrorists turn to social media to raise funds

Indonesian terrorists turn to social media to raise funds

Kiagus Ahmad Badaruddin head of the Indonesian Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre. (Photo: Amy Chew)

KUALA LUMPUR: Indonesian terrorist organisations are increasingly turning to social media to raise funds for terror activities as it is easy to open accounts using false identities, according to the Indonesian Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK).

“There is an increasing fundraising trends for terrorist activities, terrorists and terrorist organisations; to raise ... funding on social media,” Kiagus Ahmad Badaruddin, head of PPATK, told the closed-door 3rd Counter-Terrorism Financing Summit 2017 in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday (Nov 23).

PPATK is Indonesia’s anti-money laundering agency.

“This is due to the following matters -  easy opening of accounts on social media enabled by the use of false identities, making it difficult to identify and track the owner; (the) broader distribution of information … resulting in higher potential for (terrorists) receiving substantial amounts of funds,” said Kiagus, according to a copy of his speech obtained by Channel NewsAsia.

MONEY REMITTANCE SERVICES USED TO SUPPORT TERROR ACTIVITIES

Concerns over terror fighters potentially using remittance services to support terror activities has led Indonesia to classify money remittance services as “High Risk”, he said.

“In 2016, it is identified that 1,154 Indonesian citizens became foreign terrorist fighters in Syria. The authority acknowledges the potential use of alternative money remittance and currency exchange providers as channels for supporting the (terrorist) movements,” said Kiagus.

“Despite active improvements in surveillance and intelligence operations, it is crucial to develop…extensive regulation in this area…,” he said.

45 INDONESIAN MAIDS IDENTIFIED AS IS SUPPORTERS

Kiagus also said about 45 Indonesian domestic workers in Hong Kong have been identified as active supporters of the Islamic State (IS) and their radicalisation is alarming as they use social networks to provide financial support to terror groups.

“Considering the fact that more than 500,000 migrants from Indonesia work in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, these numbers may seem small, but the radicalisation of Indonesian maids and nannies working in East Asia is alarming,” said Kiagus.

“Their marriages with jihadists and the use of social network platform enable them to support the groups financially. They (Hong Kong domestic helpers) have high incomes, speak better English and have more contacts internationally,” Kiagus added.

“As money is the heart of terrorism, all of us should be committed to support efforts in building robust defence against financing of terrorism through the application of global policy standards, and acknowledge that these severe threats cannot be addressed by countries working alone,” said Kiagus.

FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE TO TRACK TERRORIST NETWORKS

According to Professor Greg Barton, a counter-terrorism expert from Deakin University, even if authorities could stop 95 per cent of the flow of funds to terror groups, the remaining 5 per cent would be sufficient to fund an attack.

“We can we can never sufficiently stop the flow of money to stop the operations. The reality is, if you cut off 95 per cent,  the 5 per cent is still enough to keep the fire going,” said Prof Barton.

He also warned of the rise of self-funded lone wolves who use fraudulent credit cards to fund their attacks.

“But the financial intelligence is not useless.  It is actually very helpful in identifying individuals ... it is a way of tracking networks and individuals,” said Prof Barton.

“I think we need to think of financial intelligence not solely as a disruptor ... we need to think of it also as being intelligence in identifying networks better,” Prof Barton added.

Source: CNA/ac

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