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Jemaah Islamiyah Declared Terrorist Group by New Zealand, EU

New Zealand and the European Union have added the group in Southeast Asia to their lists of international terrorist groups. The European Union's decision to place Jemaah Islamiyah on a list of terror groups obliges EU members to freeze assets the group holds in Europe.

The Southeast Asian group on Thursday also became the first group to be banned under New Zealand's tough new security laws. The law makes it illegal for New Zealand residents to aid the group or be a member.

Political scientist Carl Thayer at the Australian Defense Force Academy says identifying Jemaah Islamiyah as a terrorist organization makes it easier to track its funding.

"There's many aspects of terrorism but one is their fundraising activities and their ability to launder money and to shift funds around between territories. So by declaring an organization a terrorist group one then can take steps to cripple the organization in this way," he explained.

Mr. Thayer, however, warns that enforcing anti-terror laws can create problems. He says many people may have had slight contact with banned groups, but do not support their activities. Those people, he suggests, may be unfairly caught up in the hunt for terrorists.

"It's going to be extraordinarily difficult if you have a loose group of people who aren't committed to violence that happen to know people who have been, to say that you actually belong to an organization that planned and plotted terrorist violent acts," Mr. Thayer said.

The United Nations, the United States and Australia have all recently labeled the group a terrorist organization. The declarations come in the wake of bomb attacks on the Indonesian island of Bali on October 12, which killed at least 180 people.

International and Indonesian investigators suspect the group was involved in the Bali attacks. Indonesian police are holding the group's alleged spiritual leader, Abu Bakar Bashir, for questioning in connection with a series of bombings two years ago. He has not been named a suspect in the Bali bombings.

The United States and other Southeast Asian nations suspect Jemaah Islamiyah has links to the al-Qaida terror network, believed responsible for last year's terror attacks on Washington and New York.

In the Philippines, officials are applauding the European Union's decision to also add the New People's Army to its terrorist list. The NPA has fought for more than 30 years to impose a communist government in the Philippines.