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Concern over radicalisation

A Cham Muslim man enters a Phnom Penh mosque in March.

NGOs with direct ties to terrorist organisations in the Middle East had been using “massive donations” to encourage radicalisation in Cham Muslim communities, though with limited success, a United States embassy cable from last year alleges.

A cable released by WikiLeaks this week raised concerns that “very real” efforts had been made to perpetuate a terrorist safe haven in Cambodia following a 2002 to 2003 visit by “Bali bombing mastermind” Hambali to a Cham Muslim school in the Kingdom. It named the World Assembly for Muslim Youth and the Revival for Islamic Heritage as suspected terrorist organisations active in Cambodia.  

“This at-risk segment of the population is accepting help with essential services, educational aid and mosque construction from NGOs who have direct ties to tier 1 and tier 2 Terrorist Support Entities from the Middle East,” the cable, dated May 5, 2010, stated.

But just as endemic corruption was a factor that made the Kingdom conducive to extremist Islamic infiltration, it had also hampered the efforts NGOs with suspected extremist support to foster radicalisation, the cable stated.  

“Tales of infighting, corruption and ineptness have reportedly led to little progress in the way of radicalisation,” the cable reads.  “However, Cambodia’s known deep vulnerabilities, culture of corruption and limited ability to govern and maintain law and order make it susceptible to external influences that are using NGOs and massive donations as the vessel to disseminate their message to the Cham.”

Citing a series of surveys, the cable suggested that vulnerably to extremist Islamic radicalisation was low within Cham communities which saw religion “as a source of discipline, not radicalisation”. Cham represenatitves could not be reached.



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