Cambodia needs help to avoid becoming terror haven, UN committee says

Friday, October 22nd 2004, 9:06 pm
By: News On 6

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Cambodia needs urgent help if it is to avoid becoming a ``breeding ground for terrorism,'' the chairman of the Security Council's committee on al-Qaida said Friday.

Cambodia has no anti-terrorism legislation in place and lacks the capacity to enforce such laws, the chairman, Chile's U.N. ambassador Heraldo Munoz, said at a press conference that followed committee visits to the Philippines, Thailand, Australia and Cambodia.

``There are some countries that are far behind ... in their capabilities to confront the threat of terrorism and therefore they could become platforms for the operation of Jemaah Islamiya and other groups associated with al-Qaida,'' he said.

While Australia is ``at the forefront'' in the anti-terror fight and cooperates effectively with neighboring nations, Cambodia's case causes concern, Munoz said.

``Our conclusion was that Cambodia, as well as other countries, urgently need international cooperation to enhance their capability to fight terrorism. Without that, they will be a breeding ground for terrorism,'' he said.

Munoz warned that Hambali, the leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, had spent some time in Cambodia and ``he was not vacationing there, clearly.'' Discrimination against Muslims in southern Cambodia and reports of violence in that area also are worrisome, he added.

Committee members met with senior officials in each of the four countries visited. The committee is responsible for reviewing implementation of U.N. sanctions imposed on Al-Qaida, the Taliban and others.

The committee will go to the Middle East in about a month, Munoz said. He wouldn't say which countries it would visit.