Terror attacks - Malaysia

KL terminal, Najib's residence on high alert following ISIS attack

Guests at Prime Minister Najib Razak's annual Aidilfitri open house yesterday morning had to undergo two security checks as they entered the Seri Perdana compound. Since ISIS first issued threats against Malaysia's leaders and high-ranking officials
Guests at Prime Minister Najib Razak's annual Aidilfitri open house yesterday morning had to undergo two security checks as they entered the Seri Perdana compound. Since ISIS first issued threats against Malaysia's leaders and high-ranking officials last year, police have beefed up their presence in the city centre.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Security measures ramped up after last week's ISIS attack, with screening at KL Sentral to match airports'

Malaysia has put its main transport hub and the Prime Minister's residence on high alert following the country's first terror attack by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The government is also looking to beef up security beyond the city centre and the main Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

"We have given orders for KL Sentral to be an entry point to KLIA; all bags and passengers will go through the same screening checks as at KLIA," said Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai.

KL Sentral, the capital city's train terminal that links to the main airports KLIA and KLIA2, allows passengers to check in at the station.

 

Datuk Seri Liow said security at the rail station had not been as tight as at the airports but will now be increased to match them. Additional closed-circuit TVs and screening machines will be installed at the station for those heading to the airport.

 

Malaysia Airports Holdings, the country's main airport operator, said all of its 39 airports have had heightened security levels since October 2014, and that the police patrol more often during festive seasons.

Yesterday morning, police conducted two security checks as visitors queued up for Prime Minister Najib Razak's annual Aidilfitri open house. Since ISIS first issued threats against Malaysia's leaders and high-ranking officials last year, police have beefed up their presence in the city centre and have been on high alert. They have arrested almost 200 suspected militants.

On Tuesday last week, an explosion in a neighbourhood bar which injured eight people was later attributed to Malaysian ISIS militants. They had thrown an old hand grenade into a crowd watching a Euro Championship match.

Police initially denied that the incident was linked to terrorists. They have since arrested 15 people, including two low-ranking policemen in connection with the attack.

Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar yesterday tried to defuse public concern over the terrorist group's apparent infiltration of the police force. He said it was the department's monitoring of its personnel that had led to the arrests.

Tan Sri Khalid also berated the media for glamorising terrorism by interviewing militants.

"What are you trying to do by interviewing them? Give them equal representation?" he said, reported The Star.

The nation's top cop also warned the media that those which put national security at risk by interviewing militants could face action.

On Tuesday, the New Straits Times (NST) and Chinese paper Oriental Daily published an interview with a Malaysian militant in Syria named Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi.

The man has been called the mastermind of ISIS' Malaysian cell operations, giving out instructions to local militants. He told the NST that last week's attack was just a warning to the government over its crackdown on ISIS. A larger-scale attack would follow if the government continues to "punish" ISIS followers, he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that the government will enlist the help of terrorists who have repented to help counter the spread of extremist ideology in Malaysia, The Star also reported.

Malaysians were shocked to learn that the attack on the neighbourhood bar was tied to ISIS. The group had said in earlier threats that it would target establishments frequented by Westerners in the city centre.

Police, however, said the suburban pub was not the group's initial target but was chosen for attack after other bars closed early.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2016, with the headline 'KL terminal, Najib's residence on high alert'. Print Edition | Subscribe