Brunei Darussalam will continue to maintain close cooperation and networking with its regional and international partners. It remains committed to fighting terrorism and highly values strong cooperation with other countries, which has contributed to the success in maintaining terrorist threat to a minimal level.
Brunei, as the Chairman of ASEAN for 2021, is fully committed to strengthening efforts in preserving regional as well as global peace, security and stability.
This was highlighted at the 3rd Sub-Regional Meeting on Counter Terrorism and Transnational Security held via video conferencing yesterday.
Minister of Defence II cum National Security Committee (NSC) Chairman Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof stressed that Brunei Darussalam continues to remain vigilant against any prospects of terrorism, even in the midst of focussing its efforts in eliminating the persistent threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reports of recent attacks in some parts of the world indicate that terrorist individuals or groups are taking advantage of the current global crisis to spread propaganda, to recruit more followers and to mount violent attacks. Law enforcement agencies, especially in countries most affected by the double threat of terrorism and the COVID-19 pandemic, must continue to remain vigilant and focussed, the minister said.
The two main issues deliberated during the meeting were ‘The Impact of COVID-19 on the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Security Environment’ and ‘Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF) Regional Preparedness’.
The meeting was co-hosted by Republic of Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mohammad Mahfud MD and Australia’s Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton.
Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi led the Brunei delegation at the meeting, joined by ministers and head of delegations from Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Also in attendance at the virtual meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office building were Permanent Secretary (Security, Enforcement and Law) Lieutenant Colonel (Rtd) Pengiran Haji Muhamad Sazali bin Pengiran Haji Yakob and senior officials from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Meanwhile, in a joint statement, the leaders acknowledged the crisis facing the international community and the severe disruptions that COVID-19 has inflicted on the regional health systems, economies and communities.
They also noted that each country across the region experiences terrorism and violent extremism differently, but that there are similar patterns in how extremist groups across the world seek to exploit divisions and grievances, including by incorporating COVID-19 into their narratives and propaganda.
The leaders acknowledged that in this rapidly evolving world, domestic and crossborder terrorism will remain key strategic issues for the region and with that, steps to sustain the momentum in combating terrorism should be taken, including a collective effort to embrace moderation and expand inclusivism to sustain peace regionally.
They agreed to continue to collaborate through the Sub-Regional Meeting on Counter Terrorism and Transnational Security to build a common understanding of the threat environment, to set priority issues for resolution and to enhance cooperation to combat threats to the region’s security.
Additionally, they agreed to establish a Senior Officials Counter-Terrorism Policy Forum, under the auspices of the Sub-Regional Meeting on Counter Terrorism and Transnational Security, to identify and share best practices in managing counter terrorism policy issues, including those associated with the movement of FTF.
Noting the importance of ongoing discussion on regional security challenges, it was agreed that a further Ministerial-level Sub-Regional Meeting would be held in 2021.