President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday urged the public to remain calm after Taiwan’s national flag appeared in a new video purportedly released by the Islamic State (IS) group on Tuesday.
“I exchanged opinions with Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) in the morning and instructed the national security agencies and the Executive Yuan to implement preventive measures to protect Taiwanese from terror attacks, whether they occur at home or abroad,” Ma said.
Ma said people should refrain from panicking and those planning to travel abroad should remain vigilant.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will also release relevant security information to better prepare people for their overseas journeys, Ma said.
Ma made the remarks yesterday morning during a visit to a Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co facility in Taichung, one day after the publication of a video titled “No Respite,” allegedly produced by the IS.
The video features the national flags of 60 of the 65 members of the US-led coalition against the IS, including that of Taiwan, the US, the UK and Japan. Its background narrator calls on the coalition members to “bring it on,” threatening to let the “flame of war” burn them in the “hills of death.”
Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times
It came after US President Barack Obama mentioned Taiwan as a member of the anti-IS international coalition during a speech on Sunday at the East Asia summit in Kuala Lumpur.
Ma said anti-terrorism efforts not only include armed confrontation, but also humanitarian aid, as demonstrated by Taiwan’s donation of 350 prefabricated houses to Syrian refugees last year.
“The efforts cover a wide range of aspects and do not target the IS solely,” Ma said.
Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times
Ministry spokesperson Eleanor Wang (王珮玲) said that it has notified all of Taiwan’s overseas representative offices to launch an emergency response system, step up their anti-terror and security efforts and adopt extra vigilance when issuing visas to foreigners.
“In terms of its role in the global anti-terror effort, Taiwan has merely provided humanitarian aid and emergency rescue assistance,” Wang said.
However, Wang declined to confirm rumors that Representative to the US Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡) attended an anti-terrorism meeting held by the US Department of State on Tuesday to discuss expanding the global coalition against the IS.
In the legislature, Minister of the Interior Chen Wei-zen (陳威仁) echoed the president by calling on the public “not to panic, as we have always called for peace.”
Chen said that Taiwan’s effort in the so-called “anti-terror coalition” has been providing humanitarian aid for refugees, and emergency assistance and information exchange in terms of international cooperation.
“Muslims in Taiwan are in a good and friendly relationship with [other religious groups] and receive equal treatment,” Chen said.
The conflict surrounding “IS is mainly a religious one,” Chen said.
The minister of the interior said that while there has been no report about suspicious individuals’ entering the nation, security and cargo checks at airports and ports and border management will be stepped up, with the help of information exchange with other countries.
National Policy Agency Director-General Chen Kuo-en (陳國恩) said the nation’s counterterror mechanism is comprised of two levels: The National Security Council and the National Security Bureau are in charge of the national security level, and the Executive Yuan’s Office of Homeland Security is in charge of the administrative level, and if incidents involving violent assaults take place, the police would counteract with emergency squads.
In the event of a domestic terror attack, the Wei-An Special Services Commando Unit would be prepared, as it has done anti-terror exercises with forces from Singapore, France and the US, Chen Kuo-en said.
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