Regional group to choke militants’ funds in Asia

Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe arrives with flowers to receive blessings at the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, Colombo, Sri Lanka on Wednesday 4 April 2018. On wednesday (4), Wickremesinghe survived a no-confidence motion in the Sri Lankan parliament with a 46 vote majority after a 12-hour debate with 122 MPs voted in his support while 76 MPs voting to remove the prime minister. (Photo by Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE, Feb 12, 2008 (AFP) – A consortium launched in Singapore on Tuesday aims to choke militants’ access to funds in Southeast Asia which one analyst said could reach three million US dollars a month. The Consortium for Countering the Financing of Terrorism aims to strengthen cooperation between banks, government agencies and academia to cut off funding for extremist groups.

“We want to make it difficult for them (to transfer money),” terrorism analyst Rohan Gunaratna said.

The Association of Banks in Singapore, the government and the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies launched the consortium initially in Singapore, with plans for later involvement of other countries in the Asia Pacific region.

Gunaratna said militant groups, including the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), move between two and three million US dollars a month to fund their activities in Southeast Asia.

These groups use the banking system, informal money transfers and couriers carrying bags filled with cash to transfer the funds, said Gunaratna, head of the Singapore-based International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research.

“At least two to three million US dollars is moving in So