Singapore, June 5 (IANS) The Singapore government on Sunday said the Islamic State (IS) has recruited more militants in the member countries of Asean than Al-Qaeda.
“In the past three years alone, IS has recruited more sympathisers and operatives in Asean than Al-Qaeda did in the last decade, with more than 1,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria,” Efe news quoted Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen as saying during 15th Shangri-La Dialogue.
The minister said militants who had returned to southeast Asia maintain an ideological link with the IS in the Middle East on “jihad”.
Ng said the fight against Islamic terrorism was not a fight against Islam.
He said terrorist groups today had developed more sophisticated strategies and had the ability to carry out more deadly attacks that could destabilise the region if countries did not act together to stop them.
“Security forces, including militaries of individual countries, will have to combat terrorism rigorously… collectively, we must work closely together to build up joint responses, and strengthen intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance efforts,” Ng said.
The Shangri-La security forum in Singapore which ends on Sunday saw around 600 delegates from Asia, Europe, US and Australia.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations member countries are Myanmar, Brunei, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.