US: Cambodia Terrorism Fight Progressing Well

Cambodia demonstrated a firm commitment to fighting terrorism in 2007, but the government’s limited resources hinder its ability to actually do so, the US State De­partment said Wednesday.

In its annual survey of global efforts to combat terrorism, the State Department said Cambodia had enacted landmark legislation to fight terror and that officials had undergone significant counterterrorism training.

“Porous borders, endemic corruption, massive poverty, high unemployment, a poor education system and disaffected elements within the Cham Muslim population…could make the country vulnerable to terrorists and terrorist influence,” the report said, noting that Cambodia’s Chams were “not generally politically active.”

Interior Ministry Secretary of State Em Sam An, also secretary to the National Counterterrorism Committee, said Thursday that Cam­­bodia does not face an immediate terrorist threat.

“Cambodia has good security, but we have to train our officials to fight terrorism,” he said.

The failed attempt in July to bomb the Vietnam-Cambodia friendship memorial in Phnom Penh was “evidence that terrorist groups were capable of conducting domestic attacks in Cambodia,” the report said.

The report also noted the government’s enactment in July of the counterterrorism law, the anti-money laundering law in June, and the National Bank of Cambodia’s instructions to freeze the assets of individuals and groups known to be involved in terrorism. Cambodian port officials in November also sought US training and equipment to help improve security standards, the report said.

Em Sam An said officials at the Sihanoukville port are currently using electronic scanners to screen cargo.

“We don’t only use it to fight terror. We use it to control smuggled items as well,” he said.

US embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle said the report does not assess the threat level to Cam­bodia, which he declined to discuss further.

            (Additional reporting by Chhorn Chansy)


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