Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei launch the ‘Our Eyes’ initiative. The agreement is centred on exchanging information and creating an extremists database. In 2017 terrorists laid siege to Marawi (Philippines) for months. Other nations like the United States, Australia and Japan could join later.
Bali (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Six South-east Asian nations agreed an intelligence pact today in Bali (Indonesia) aimed at fighting Islamist militants and improving security co-operation.
All six – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei – belong to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Under the ‘Our Eyes’ initiative, senior defence officials will meet every two weeks to swap information on militant groups and develop a common database of violent extremists.
The intelligence sharing arrangement comes after insurgents aligned with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) laid siege to Marawi, a city in the southern Filipino island of Mindanao, last year.
Dozens of foreigners – most notably Indonesians and Malaysians – were among hundreds of militants who engaged in a ferocious battle with Filipino forces.
Some of the fighters are believed to have travelled to Marawi via the porous maritime borders of the Sulu Sea, next to Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, analysts believe.
For Indonesian Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, intelligence sharing will help ensure that another incident like the one in Marawi does not occur and will prevent the region from "becoming like the Middle East".
Mr Ryacudu also mentioned the United States, Australia and Japan as possible future members.