Plans to fight terror lacking
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Plans to fight terror lacking

The wave of terrorism in recent days has been horrific. The Paris attacks killed at least 129 and shattered many hundreds of lives of the wounded and the victims' families. Similarly, a bloody attack on a hotel in Bamako, Mali, killed 27 but harmed far more. In the Middle East and in the Philippines, extremist groups beheaded a Norwegian, a Chinese citizen and a Malaysian because their families could not raise the money to ransom them.

These attacks made Asian headlines. But in the past 10 days, more blood was shed. A suicide bomber killed 30 in a market in Yola, Nigeria. Two bombs set by Boko Haram extremists killed 15 in Kano, Nigeria, and wounded more than 100. Bombings in Beirut killed 44. At least 21 Shia died in a suicide bombing in Iraq. On Friday, a suicide bomber killed yet another 10 Shia at their Iraq mosque, while on Saturday, Boko Haram bombers killed 10 in Cameroon.

As these vicious acts played out, heads of government turned up the rhetoric at two major summits, in Manila and Kuala Lumpur. The leaders of Pacific nations have been here before. The sad truth is that international terrorists are constantly and consistently bypassing security measures that only appear tougher and more restrictive. The leaders condemned the savage attacks but no new steps were offered.

Some leaders have tried to be careful with their language. Both US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, when they spoke, talked around the source of the violence. But both promised steps to fight terrorism, while also avoiding any specifics on that subject. Gen Prayut, for example, told the Apec summit in Manila: "These atrocities demand a united voice from the global community. We reaffirm our strong collective resolve to counter terrorism."

While the sentiment is right, the lack of actual action or plans sounds wrong. It is extremely disappointing that 14 years after the Sept 11 attacks put the whole world on alert, that leaders in the Pacific were unable to detail an action plan at their own summit. Nearly 12 years of low-intensity war in the far South has made Thailand one of the 10 most frequent targets of terrorism. Yet after two military regimes, three distinct civilian administrations, 10 prime ministers and 6,000-plus dead, there have been no signs of progress in either a victory over the separatists or a real attempt to make peace.

The host for the Asean meeting was Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Immediately before last weekend's meetings, his security forces arrested more supporters of the Islamic State (IS). He called it a "new evil" but when he said that IS ideology and recruiting must be exposed, he offered no new ideas. Nor did his counterparts.

Like al-Qaeda two decades ago, the IS's evil leadership has exploited technology. It appeals to weak youths and girls looking for a cause to follow. That it has been so successful in recruiting, in battlefield gains and, now in expanding its terrorism far and wide, is a severe blow to the ponderous and unimaginative governments now responsible for countering this hateful, murderous group.

Thailand must remain watchful. The Aug 17 bombing at the Erawan shrine showed that terrorists can strike quickly and covertly. But the refusal to probe possible terrorist links with the attacks -- in the name of short-term tourist arrivals -- is a major failure of the regime. The planners, financiers and numerous enablers of that bombing, both Thai and foreign, remain at large -- a dangerous situation indeed.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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