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Terrorism 'evolving' problem: Keenan

AAP logoAAP 9/08/2016 Lauren Farrow and Heru Rahadi

When the group of young Indonesian men behind the foiled plot to fire a rocket at Singapore began their plans, they had never actually met the man from ISIS accused of recruiting them to do it.

Instead, police say, their communication with Indonesian militant Bahrun Naim in Syria, was all done through Facebook.

"They (Bahrun Naim and his followers) are building communication networks among their cells in Indonesia. They're hunting for new people over Facebook," National Police Chief spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said this week.

"With online training, they don't need to meet face to face," Mr Boy added.

While it remains unclear how the funds were transferred from Bahrun Naim to the group from Batam Island to carry out the attack on neighbouring Singapore, it illustrates how terrorists are using technology to create and build networks in the region.

Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan, who is in Indonesia to discuss terrorism, its financing, and the radicalisation of individuals in the region said it was an "evolving problem".

Funds prop up not just individual attacks and operations, but also help to support other parts of the terrorist enterprise, such as living expenses, travel, and compensation for wounded terrorists, he said.

"Terrorism financing funds are often low value and disguised within legitimate transactions, making it difficult for our law enforcement and intelligence agencies to separate suspicious transactions from legitimate ones," Mr Keenan added.

These challenges are among the issues being discussed at a counter-terrorism meeting in Bali, which Mr Keenan and Attorney-General George Brandis will attend. Indonesian President Joko Widodo is also expected at the meeting on Wednesday.

This will be the first time since the recent terrorist attacks in France, Germany and the United States, that counter-terrorism ministers, from more than 20 nations, will convene to discuss ways to combat the global threat.

It also comes on the heels of the arrests of six men allegedly behind the failed Singapore rocket plot.

Five suspected militants remain in custody.

Mr Boy said police were continuing to trace the men's communication and plans through Facebook chatter with Bahrun Naim.

The group, which has been coined "GR" and is led by Gigih Rahmat, is believed to have "dozens" of members, some of whom were allegedly helping people travel to Syria to fight.

While the alleged plot was foiled and no rocket has yet been found, Mr Boy said the group should not be underestimated.

Online training from Syria included lectures on how to assemble firearms, explosives and rockets.

As technology evolves, Mr Keenan said it was imperative Australia and other governments in the region change with it.

"That is why Australia's primary financial intelligence agency, AUSTRAC, is developing a data processing platform, "data lake" (which uses technologies from innovative platforms such as Google and Facebook) to enhance its capacity to analyse and share data in real-time to respond to emerging threats," he said.

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