Cablegate: Cambodia: 2006 Country Report On Terrorism

DE RUEHPF #2209/01 3550119
P 210119Z DEC 06




STATE FOR EAP/MLS, EAP/RSP, and S/CT--Rhonda Shore

E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: CAMBODIA: 2006 Country Report on Terrorism


1. (U) Cambodia's ability to investigate potential terrorist
activities is limited by a lack of training and resources. An
absence of comprehensive domestic legislation to combat terrorism
also hinders the ability to arrest and prosecute terrorists.
However, Cambodia's political leadership demonstrated a strong
commitment to take aggressive legal action against terrorists. The
government also has made effective use of its existing one-page law
on terrorism, as evidenced by the conviction in late December 2004
of three persons for aiding Jemaah Islamiya (JI) terrorists who
planned to detonate a car bomb at a Western embassy in Phnom Penh,
each of whom was sentenced to life in prison.

2. (U) To help bolster its counterterrorism capabilities, the
Cambodian Government in 2005 established the National
Counterterrorism Committee (NCTC), a policy-level decision-making
body chaired by the Prime Minister that directly addresses the
government domestic and international counterterrorism
responsibilities. The NCTC held its first session in August 2005.
In 2006, various officials were identified to take positions in the
NCTC and an office is now in place. The Cambodian government is
working on a budget for the group. The Australian military
conducted a conference with the NCTC in August 2006 and intends to
do a tabletop exercise with the NCTC at an unspecified date in the

3. (U) Conditions in Cambodia, such as massive poverty, high
unemployment, a poor education system, and disaffected elements
within the Cham Muslim population, which make up between 3% and 5%
of the population, could make the country vulnerable to terrorists
and terrorist influence in the future. In 2006, Post has received
reports of the growing influence of Wahhabis in Cambodia. Though
the majority of Wahhabi practitioners is located in Takeo province,
reports indicate that it is spreading from its base. There are no
indications that specific terrorist groups currently operate in
Cambodia; however, porous borders and endemic corruption could make
the country vulnerable to a terrorist presence.

4. (U) The Cambodian Government has fully cooperated with U.S.
counterterrorism efforts on many levels, despite its limited
resources. In April 2005, the government participated in the
first-ever U.S. Pacific Command-led multinational interagency
counterterrorism survey. The survey was conducted to develop
methods to assist the Cambodian authorities in improving their
overall counterterrorism capacity. The team made recommendations to
various elements responsible for counterterrorism at the tactical,
operational, and national levels. The U.S. Department of Defense
has been conducting training in Cambodia of a military unit since

5. (U) The Cambodian Government also cooperates with a number of
other governments on counterterrorism issues. The Singaporean
government has conducted short counterterrorism courses in Cambodia.
In addition to assistance on the NCTC, the Australian government is
helping Cambodia draft a new counterterrorism law; the draft law is
being reviewed by the relevant legislative committee and is expected
to be adopted by the national legislature in April 2007. The
Australian and U.K. governments jointly sponsored a National Seminar
on Counter-Terrorism in April 2006 to help train the Cambodian
military and police. The Malaysian government cooperates with the
Cambodian government on Malaysia-specific cases. The Cambodian
government has signed a bilateral agreement with India that came
into force in December 2005 providing cooperation in fighting
terrorism, exchanging information and intelligence on the activities
of any terrorist group and its associates, and identifying and
exchanging information on terrorist financing sources. As ASEAN
Chair from July 2002 to June 2003, Cambodia took the lead in
coordinating ASEAN statements on terrorism, such as the Joint
ASEAN-EU Declaration on Cooperation to Combat Terrorism and the
relevant text in the Chairman's Statement of the Tenth ASEAN
Regional Forum.

6. (U) In December 2006, following the visit of the Sri Lankan
Prime Minister, the Cambodian government announced that a Sri Lankan
military intelligence official will work with police and defense
officials on intelligence matters. This announcement follows Prime
Minister Hun Sen's assurance to his Sri Lankan counterpart that the
Tamil Tiger rebels will not receive arms smuggled from Cambodia,
though the RGC has acknowledged this likely happened in the past.
Post believes that the Cambodian government is better able to
control suspect arms shipments and that fewer weapons exist in
Cambodia that could be exported abroad. Cambodia has destroyed
200,000 small arms over the last several years with E.U. assistance,
and with U.S. assistance destroyed its stockpile of man-portable
anti-aircraft missiles (MANPADS).

7. (U) In December 2006, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced

PHNOM PENH 00002209 002 OF 002

four men to 18 months in prison for possession and transportation of
two Armbrust rocket launchers by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
Three of the four men are in custody but the whereabouts of the
fourth individual, who is a colonel in the Cambodian military, are

8. (U) The government installed, with U.S. assistance,
computerized border control systems at Phnom Penh and Siem Riep
airports and the land border crossing of Poipet and Koh Kong. The
Cambodian government cooperated fully with U.S. requests to monitor
terrorists and terrorist entities listed as supporters of terrorist

9. (U) No known foreign terrorist groups or organizations
currently operate in Cambodia. In October 2006, Cambodian
authorities arrested six Cambodian nationals for plotting to plant
explosives during Phnom Penh's annual Water Festival. The Cambodian
government does not believe that they are linked to any
international terrorist group. The men are currently in pre-trial
detention charged with attempted terrorism.

10. (U) The Cambodian government believes that the Cambodian
Freedom Fighters (CFF), which carried out an armed attack in
November 2000 that killed eight people, are still capable of
carrying out attacks in Cambodia. The leader of this group was
arrested in California in 2005. The Cambodian government is working
with the FBI to bring the leader of the CFF to trial in the U.S.

11. (U) The Point of contact for this report is Political/Economic
officer Gaurav Bansal. Email: Phone number:


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