Threats & Responses

27 & 28 August 2018

Intercontinental Hotel, Kuala Lumpur


IACSP successfully conducted its 2nd bi-annual ASEAN Security Symposium gathering international security professionals and practitioners to discuss risks, threats and responses on the issues relating to addressing counterterrorism activities in Southeast Asia.

​This event has brought together high level support from Malaysia’s Defense and Royal Malaysian Police forces, as part of the government’s commitment to combat acts of terrorism and violent extremism that’s taking place in the region.

Keynote Figures

The presence of the Honorable Minister of Defense Mohamad Sabu for the opening and the Honorable Deputy Minister of Defense during during the closing of the event was the highlight of this symposium.

​Also present was Malaysian Police Special Branch Counterterrorism Director, Datuk Ayub Khan, and Weixiong Chen, Deputy Director of the Counterterrorism Committee Executive Directorate of United Nations who both delivered separate keynote presentations reflecting on the recent terror attacks in the region and the need for an all-of-society approach & to “walk the talk” in our efforts to counter violent extremism.

A total of of 150 delegates, of which 80% of  southeast asia countries participated in the conference, indicating the need for a more collaborative effort on intelligence gathering between all relevant parties involved.


The Defense Minister of Malaysia, YB Mohammad Sabu graced the occasion and delivered a honorary keynote address. In his speech, he questioned the ‘real’ people behind the terrorist and their intentions.

In this context, he expressed concerns of similar violence that happening against the Rohingya community in Myanmar and that they may retaliate and resolve to become suicide bombers or be manipulated to join terrorist cells.

The minister also calls for the United Nations (UN) to take swift action to into the matter.

Panel Discussions

Invited panelists consist of practitioners, experts and academia professionals who shared knowledge on the current landscape of terror and recruitment activities in the region.

Four (4) panel sessions were held to deliberate on current issues that needs great attention:-

Panel topics we mainly focused at:

·       International engagements & trends in countering terrorism

·       Cyber Terrorism, Cyber Crime & Data Protection

·       Terrorism Financing

·       Countering Homegrown Violent Extremism in the ASEAN Region

Feedback from the Panelist was their concern on the return of foreign terror fighters (FTFs), indicating that returnees are operating as lone actors by silently recruiting and spreading extreme Islamic ideologies from their hiding place. US Intelligence reveals that there are about 30,000 FTFs from 100 states that have been displaced and majority of these fighters pledging  their allegiance to Daesh or al-Qaeda groups.

Web 2.0 & Social Media

Social media sits on top of the list of the most effective recruitment tool used to spread extreme ideologies to society.

Delegates were pleased to hear of Facebook’s efforts in fighting terrorism. It has setup a counterterrorism department to monitor terror network activities in Asia Pacific. Among others, the unit set policies and alerts the relevant authorities of suspicious activities.

According to the Head of Facebook’s Counterterrorism Policy Asia Pacific, Gulnaz Bias, the global company adopts the use of automation and human reviews to investigate and enforce policies to counterterrorism. All of this is done to create a open, safe and secure online environment.

The concept of cyberwar was presented by Mr Sazalli Sukari, Senior Vice President of the Strategic Research Division of Cybersecurity Malaysia.

He said that the tools used to conduct cyber attacks varies from the most simplest to most sophisticated from. These tools are made readily available to the attacker as it can be purchase from the dark web.

“We are witnessing hackers using malwares as cyber weapons to cripple governments and economies” says the retired Lieutenant Colonel from the Malaysia Army.

Terrorism Financing

Regional terrorism financing was also the main topic that drew a lot of attention.  Delegates were exposed to new remittance and the multi-layered money laundering models that would escape detection by lawmakers. These insights were exposed by Investment and financial risk expert Mr. Kevin Ho.

Terrorist are using legitimate methods of laundering money i.e. through corporate donations, protection & security services and crypto currency. Kevin also shared that Forbes magazine reported on the amount of wealth accumulated by ISIS operating with turnover of US$2 Billion annually. Established terror cells has the amassed enough funds to be self sustaining.


Four special workshops were held on the 2nd Day of the ASEAN Security Symposium.

·       CBRNe Intelligence by  Professor Roberto Mogavero, President of Observatory on Security and CBRNe Defense (OSDIFE), Italy

·       Deradicalisation / Radicalisation of Terrorism by Adinaraina Adina, Former Director of Malaysian Prison Department. Adinaraina is currently Head of IACSP SEA Deradicalization Program

·       Typologies beyond the Banking System: From Hawalas to Cryptocurrencies by Kevin Ho, Managing Director of Capital Asia Investments Singapore

·       Forensic Capabilities of INTERPOL by Kim Legg, Senior Fingerprint Officer of INTERPOL Singapore. Delegates were given the experience to identify suspects though facial recognition techniques.

Homegrown Violent Extremism in the ASEAN Region

Homegrown Violent Extremism (HVE) has become an important topic of discussion as threats are no longer coming from foreigners outside nations borders. Terror attacks are now carried out by the people living in their own countries. This phenomenon has become a major national security threat to the ASEAN region, in particular from Islamist extremism.

“In Indonesia, there are more than 270 local terrorist inmates held in prison of which 30 inmates are being released every year” says R. Rakyan Adibrata who is IACSP Deputy Country Director of Indonesia. This number he said will continue to grow and proactive plans are being put in place by the Indonesian government to de-radicalise and control the situation.

The founder of the International Institute of Peacebuilding Indonesia Nor Huda Ismail described that ISIS has changed its radicalization process since 2014, using digital means to spread their propaganda, recruitment and coordination. Through this speech, he shares how his organization works on conducting de-radicalization workshops and to have his audience understand the context of having peace and harmony in Indonesia.

Media Response

The symposium has attracted an unprecedented media amount of coverage from the media namely The Star, Malay Mail, Channel News Asia & Bernama TV.

Closing & Conclusion

The conference ended on a high note. It was officially closed by the Deputy Defense Minister of Malaysia, Senator Liew Chin Tong, who reminded delegates about the terrifying attacks in Bali, Jakarta and Southern Philippines as a wake up call for everyone stay resilient.

He urged governments, businesses and civil society to work together in building good intelligence gathering capabilities and to stay united in maintaining the peace and stability in the country and the region.

The Deputy Minister congratulated delegates, speakers and IACSP for another successful conference and looks forward to another engaging conference in 2020.

Download the full Post Conference report with images here in pdf-format.