Country Reports on Terrorism 2007 - Cambodia

Cambodia's political leadership demonstrated a strong commitment to take aggressive legal action against terrorists. However, Cambodia's ability to investigate potential terrorist activities was limited by a lack of training and resources. The government passed a counterterrorism law and a law to combat terrorist financing, and comprehensive domestic legislation has been promulgated and implemented. To date, the Cambodian government has fully cooperated with United States counterterrorism efforts on many levels, despite its limited resources.

Conditions in Cambodia, such as porous borders, endemic corruption, massive poverty, high unemployment, a poor education system, and disaffected elements within the Cham Muslim population, which makes up approximately five percent of the population, could make the country vulnerable to terrorists and terrorist influence. Although the Cham were not generally politically active, the Cambodian government feared that Cham areas might provide safe haven to terrorists. For example, Hambali, the Indonesian national and key member of Jemaah Islamiya accused of involvement in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings, took refuge in a Muslim school in Kandal Province in 2002-2003.

One violent group among the many peaceful and law-abiding Kampuchea Khmer Krom groups attempted to blow up the Vietnam-Cambodia Friendship memorial using three improvised explosive devices in July, providing evidence that terrorist groups were capable of conducting domestic attacks in Cambodia. Although no one was injured, the Cambodian government thoroughly investigated this case, and eventually arrested and jailed the responsible individuals.

Cambodia's National Counterterrorism Committee (NCTC), a policy level decision making body established by the government in 2005 and chaired by the prime minister, continued to develop its resources. In December, several NCTC officials traveled to the United States for USG consultations.

In July, Cambodia's Senate approved a Counterterrorism Law after it was passed by Cambodia's National Assembly on June 26. On July 20, following the Senate's approval, the King enacted the law, which addressed aircraft safety, maritime navigation safety, the protection of nuclear materials, the financing and provision of material support to terrorism, and other important issues affecting national security and safety. It also implemented measures to enhance international cooperation regarding terrorism offenses.

In June, the Cambodian government enacted the Law on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism. The government was also working on decrees and sub-decrees to bring these counterterrorism laws fully into effect. In addition, the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) circulated nationwide the UN Security Council lists of individuals and entities involved in global terrorism. The NBC officially instructed all financial and banking institutions operating in Cambodia to scrutinize and freeze assets of these persons and entities.

The Australian and Cambodian governments jointly sponsored a Maritime Security seminar in November to train Cambodian military, police, and other officials. At this seminar, Prime Minister Hun Sen stated that Cambodia's maritime security is a priority in fighting against drug trafficking, human trafficking, terrorism, crossborder crimes, and piracy. He added that cooperation with international partners to combat terrorism and crossborder criminals had improved. As part of ongoing cooperation on counterterrorism capacity-building, training was conducted with elements of the U.S. military in conjunction with the USS Essex ship visit to Cambodia.

In June, the Royal Government of Cambodia designated three government focal points to work on the multilateral Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, co-chaired by the United States and the Russian Federation. The government strictly controlled the use of weapons, explosive devices, chemical substances, and radioactive materials.

With U.S. assistance, the Government of Cambodia installed computerized border control systems at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports, and at the land border crossing of Poipet and Koh Kong. There are 20 land border checkpoints. During a November International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code) assessment visit by the U.S. Coast Guard, various Port security officials expressed a need for additional USG-funded training, tactical equipment, and technical materials in order to continue improving security standards. The Cambodian government also cooperated fully with U.S. requests to monitor terrorists and terrorist entities listed as supporters of terrorist financing.

The Cambodian government cooperated with a number of other governments on counterterrorism issues. The FBI conducted a "Major Case Management" course in Cambodia which reviewed Cambodia's new Criminal Procedures Law, instructed best practices in evaluating evidence, and increased the government's investigative capacity. Counterterrorism training was also provided by Singapore, Australia, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The Germans, as G8 President, convened a local CTAG (the G8's Counterterrorism Action Group) meeting December 13, to exchange views on the nature of the terrorist threat in Cambodia and the region; to share information about assistance programs in Cambodia building capacity and countering terrorist threats; to discuss the question of whether the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) "menu of services" included any activities of interest to donors; to hear a readout of the Australian-sponsored maritime security seminar; and to exchange information on the National Counterterrorism Committee.

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