On the first morning of a two-day counter-terrorism seminar on Thursday, government authorities as well as British and Australian Embassy officials said Cambodia must prepare for possible terrorist attacks.
They gave few specifics in speeches or statements issued for the conference on how Cambodia would do so, and closed the door to reporters following the opening remarks.
“Cambodia’s national counter-terrorism strategic plan has clearly evaluated that the terrorists have real organizations, real chains of command and coordinated activities,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sar Kheng in his opening remarks to the 150 audience members.
Terrorists can be anywhere, even if a country is not one of their specific targets, he added.
John Mitchell, charge d’affairs at the British Embassy, said in his opening remarks that the country must craft separate strategies to combat threats from Jemaah Islamiyah and al-Qaida, but did not say what they should be.
Terrorism, he said, “is not something we will manage in five years, ten years or perhaps even decades. But by working together, eventually we will do so.”
Guy Ruediger, first secretary at the Australian Embassy, declined comment on counter-terrorism and asked members of the press to leave to conference room.
Reached by phone after the seminar, Interior Minister spokesman Khieu Sopheak said he was not sure how much money the government would spend on counter-terrorism efforts or what those efforts would involve.
He did say, however, that the country’s top priority was protecting foreigners and their embassies, and cited an alleged plot by Jemaah Islamiyah operations chief Riduan Isamuddinn, also known as Hambali, to blow up the British and US Embassy in 2002.