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Counter-Terrorism Financing Summit 2016 in Indonesia pledges to cut sources of Terror Funding

73 Malaysian nationals have joined or attempted to join extremist groups in Syria and Iraq, and at least 19 have been killed

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A picture from the summit Image source: straitstimes.com
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  • The Counter-Terrorism Financing (CTF) Summit was held from August 8- 11 August 2016
  • The summit was held in Bali, Indonesia and was co-hosted by Australia’s and Indonesia’s financial intelligence agency
  • Several countries have pledged to cooperate in strengthening intelligence efforts by cutting off funding sources of terrorists, even if they change their methods

Nusa Dua, Indonesia, August 14, 2016: The Counter-Terrorism Financing (CTF) Summit that was held from August 8 – 11 August 2016 brought together leaders and experts in counter-terrorism financing and financial intelligence from 26 nations to deliver the first Regional Risk Assessment on Terrorism Financing.

The summit was held in Bali, Indonesia and was co-hosted by AUSTRAC, Australia’s financial intelligence agency and its Indonesian counterpart financial intelligence unit Pusat Pelaporan Dan Analisis Transaksi Keuangan (PPATK). They co-led the research and development of the regional risk assessment, with contributions from the FIUs of Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. With all the reports, they were successful in identifying and understanding the full extent of the threats posed by terrorism financing in the region of Southeast Asia and the Australian region.

With all the reports, they were successful in identifying and understanding the full extent of the threats posed by terrorism financing in the region of Southeast Asia and the Australian region. The four major financial risks to the region were identified as- self-funding from legitimate sources, at-risk non-profit organisations (NPO), fundraising through social media and crowdsourcing, and criminal activity. The risks were assessed in a 48-page document titled- the Terrorism Financing Regional Risk Assessment 2016 report that was published at the meeting.

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When one path is disrupted, terrorists adapt and change their financing methods. Now, the use of stored value cards has increased. The cards can be loaded with cash or through any non-reportable electronic method and easily carried to another country. Cards can be reloaded remotely and anonymously by third parties, meaning that the face value of some cards can understate their value, said the Benar News report.

The report stated that Indonesia is at high-risk zone for each of the four sources. Malaysia for self-funding from legitimate sources and fundraising through social media; while Thailand is at high-risk for self-funding and also at-risk through non-profit organisations.

According to Benar News report, Indonesia faces a high threat of terrorism due to the involvement of Indonesians in the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq, while the status of risk in Malaysia elevated because of threats posed by IS and foreign terrorists.

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Bali summit agrees to stronger collaboration to combat terrorism financing Image Source: thejakartapost.com
Bali summit agrees to stronger collaboration to combat terrorism financing Image Source: thejakartapost.com

“Malaysia continues to be a transit country for recruits for terrorist groups active in other countries,” the report said. 73 Malaysian nationals have joined or attempted to join extremist groups in Syria and Iraq, and at least 19 have been killed, reported Benar News.

The primary method for a tactical, short-term purposes for small-scale attacks in Malaysia is self-funding. The report also stated that a terror group in Indonesia used legitimately sourced funds to finance military training.

Though Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) in Thailand have diverted money to fund various groups in the country’s Deep South, the level of misuse of NPOs to fund terrorists is lower than expected across the region, stated the report.

Malaysia’s efforts to eradicate terror funding was praised. “in contrast to many regional countries, Malaysia has conducted a comprehensive risk assessment of the sector and has adopted target approaches to risk mitigation.”

Calling the online faction of terrorist funding largely opportunistic, the report states that terrorists are more likely to use it for communication to solicit and broadcast calls for funding rather than actually collecting funds through social media.

Criminal activities such as kidnapping for ransom, theft and robbery remain a key source for funding terrorist groups. The report stated, militants in Indonesia rely on the violent robbery to raise funds while in Thailand, they mainly depend on extortion to raise funds, though they also steal cars and smuggle oil to raise money.

Several countries have pledged to cooperate in strengthening intelligence efforts by cutting off funding sources of terrorists, even if they change their methods. They have outlined a roadmap to combat terrorism in the next Summit that is slated to be held in Malaysia, next year, in 2017.

– prepared by Ajay Krishna of NewsGram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

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Google AI can focus on individual speakers in a crowd

The visual signal not only improves the speech separation quality significantly in cases of mixed speech, but, importantly, it also associates the separated, clean speech tracks

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Google india launches 'Tz' to help people pay their utility bills. Wikimedia Commons
Google AI to identify speakers from crowd. Wikimedia Commons

Just as most smartphone cameras now allow users to focus on a single object among many, it may soon be possible to pick out individual voices in a crowd by suppressing all other sounds, thanks to a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) system developed by Google researchers.

This is an important development as computers as not as good as humans at focusing their attention on a particular person in a noisy environment. Known as the cocktail party effect, the capability to mentally “mute” all other voices and sounds comes natural to us humans.

Google has collaborated with getty images. Wikimedia Commons
Google AI will identify individual speakers now. Wikimedia Commons

However, automatic speech separation — separating an audio signal into its individual speech sources — remains a significant challenge for computers, Inbar Mosseri and Oran Lang, software engineers at Google Research, wrote in a blog post this week. In a new paper, the researchers presented a deep learning audio-visual model for isolating a single speech signal from a mixture of sounds such as other voices and background noise.

“In this work, we are able to computationally produce videos in which speech of specific people is enhanced while all other sounds are suppressed,” Mosseri and Lang said. The method works on ordinary videos with a single audio track, and all that is required from the user is to select the face of the person in the video they want to hear, or to have such a person be selected algorithmically based on context.

Also Read: Want To Know What Facebook, Google Know About You?

The researchers believe this capability can have a wide range of applications, from speech enhancement and recognition in videos, through video conferencing, to improved hearing aids, especially in situations where there are multiple people speaking. “A unique aspect of our technique is in combining both the auditory and visual signals of an input video to separate the speech,” the researchers said.

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This will also help in speech enhancement . VOA

“Intuitively, movements of a person’s mouth, for example, should correlate with the sounds produced as that person is speaking, which in turn can help identify which parts of the audio correspond to that person,” they explained.

The visual signal not only improves the speech separation quality significantly in cases of mixed speech, but, importantly, it also associates the separated, clean speech tracks with the visible speakers in the video, the researchers said. IANS