Soldiers of the Philippines (Photo: VNA)

Sydney (VNA) – Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan on November 22 announced the establishment of the Southeast Asia Counter-Terrorism Financing Working Group, which will link finance intelligence units across the region to counter terrorism financing.

The group, designed to prevent the flow of funds suspected of being used to fund terrorist activities, was joined by Australia and six Southeast Asian nations of Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, Thailand and Singapore.

Speaking from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia while attending a 35-nation counter-terrorism financing summit, the Australian official said the group had been formed to cut off the funding supply lines of the Islamic State (IS) and other terrorist organisations.

Accordingly, Australia’s counter-terrorism financing agency (AUSTRAC) will for the first time share critical intelligence with anti-terrorism units in ASEAN countries, including the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia to create a "firewall" in Southeast Asia against funding of IS and other terrorist groups.

It is the first such cross-country agreement of its kind, as authorities fear that even small amounts of money flowing into emerging terror hot spots could fund significant attacks, with the 2002 Bali bombings estimated to have been funded with less than 100,000 USD.

A regional risk assessment conducted by AUSTRAC estimated that foreign sources transferred more than one million USD in terrorism financing into Indonesia between 2014 and 2015. Australia recorded the highest number of “suspicious” transactions with 536 last year while Singapore recorded 205 cases.-VNA