Australia's Minister for Justice Michael Keenan (right) speaks about an alleged terror plot at a press conference with Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin in Sydney on Dec 23, 2016. The Australian government on Sept 14, 2017 announced a multi-million-dollar plan to block money from making it to terror groups in Southeast Asia. (PETER PARKS / AFP)
CANBERRA - The Australian government on Thursday announced a 4.6-million-Australian dollar (US$3.7 million) plan to block money from making it to terror groups in Southeast Asia.
I look forward to our international partners joining a new regional counter IS financing group
Michael Keenan, Justice Minister, Australia
Australian Justice Minster Michael Keenan has said financial intelligence agency Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) would lead the initiative, which would result in Australia working closely with neighboring countries to prevent money making it to terror groups such as the Islamic State (IS) in Marawi in the Philippines.
He said the 4.6 million Australian dollars would be used to identify "non-traditional" methods of terrorism funding, develop countermeasures, and support local law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
"This money will be used to detect and disrupt funding to Islamic State-aligned terrorist groups, and I look forward to our international partners joining a new regional counter IS financing group," Keenan said on Thursday.
"AUSTRAC will be building on work already underway with our regional partners, including through the Counter Terrorism Financing Summit.
"AUSTRAC will also work with its industry partners in the Fintel Alliance, a world-first private-public partnership with major financial institutions, to prevent funding destined for (Islamic State) being moved through Australia's financial institutions and harden regional financial institutions against this threat."
Keenan said sharing counter-terror information with neighbors was "critical" in the fight against IS and would help prevent foreign fighters from returning "home."
"The Australian government is committed to working closely with our regional counterparts to address the threat of returning foreign fighters and home-grown terrorism in the region," he said.
"The need for greater cooperation with our neighbors has never been more critical."
The minister added that Australia had committed four Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers to the Philippines to support local authorities in the fight against IS, while more would be joining later this year.