Anti-Terrorism Conference Begins in Siem Reap

Opening a four-day Asean anti-terrorism conference in Siem Reap town Wednesday, Prime Minis­ter Hun Sen declared that Cam­bo­dia is terrorism-free and must stay that way if the tourism industry is to continue growing.

“So, why do I talk about tourism at this anti-terrorism conference?” Hun Sen asked the closed-door con­ference, according to a copy of his speech.

“If Cambodia is a target of a terrorist attack like what the Hambali group was trying to stage in 2002, the prosperity and development that we have achieved would definitely and severely be destroyed,” Hun Sen told the audience of 100, which included delegates from the US and South Africa.

A conference organizer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Cambodia was selected to host the conference because it had successfully helped Thai and US authorities arrest Riduan Isa­muddin, the Indonesian better known as Hambali, who was operations chief for regional militant group Jemaah Islamiyah.

Hun Sen also said that al-Qaida’s network has extended into South­east Asia, and that they inspired Jemaah Islamiyah, which he claim­ed is trying to build a Southeast As­ian jihad movement.

Jemaah Islamiyah is credited with carrying out the 2002 Bali bomb­ings and the 2003 Marriott Ho­tel bomb attack in Jakarta.

“We must join hands to combat this threat…. If each country can fight on its own, there is no need for this gathering,” Hun Sen said, according to his speech.

However, SRP lawmaker Yim So­vann, who heads the National As­­sembly commission on interior and defense, said Cambodia was not a target for attack by Islamic militants.

“In Cambodia, what we are concerned about is the banking system because law implementation is weak…. We are concerned that terrorists use Cambodia to transfer money,” he said.

That Hambali was arrested in Thailand and not Cambodia displayed a “weakness of national security,” Yim Sovann said, adding: “If Hambali had wanted to attack Cambodia, he could have.”

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