Malaysia partnering Interpol to block militants' return

Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Malaysia's police will work closely with Interpol to ensure that Malaysian militants in Syria and Iraq cannot return to the country.
Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Malaysia's police will work closely with Interpol to ensure that Malaysian militants in Syria and Iraq cannot return to the country. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUCHING • Malaysia's police will work closely with Interpol to ensure that the 132 Malaysian militants in Syria and Iraq cannot return to the country, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said yesterday.

He said this will ensure that Malaysia's racial unity and its stability are not threatened, Bernama news agency reported.

"Malaysians have all along been living in great unity and harmony, although they come from different races and religions," he said at a Chinese New Year gathering in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak state.

"They participate and enjoy each other's festivities. This is the true Malaysian culture that we want to uphold and strengthen," he added.

Datuk Seri Zahid did not spell out how Malaysia will block the militants' return to the country.

Security authorities have been regularly arresting Malaysians who went to these countries to participate in militant activities.

Malaysia has arrested more than 100 men and women for being suspected sympathisers of the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), or for trying to make their way to join militant activities.

Indonesia, meanwhile, is looking at revoking the passports of its nationals who visit Syria to support ISIS or similar groups. There are about 400 Indonesians who have joined ISIS in Syria.

There is major concern among Malaysian officials about the possbility of an attack in the country similar to the Jan 14 terrorist strike in Jakarta that killed eight people, including the four attackers.

Malaysia's Special Branch director Mohamad Fuzi Harun said late last month that one of the Jakarta terrorists had made a phone call to a Malaysian number just before the attack, Bernama had reported. The information came from Indonesian police, Datuk Seri Fuzi had said.

On May 1, Malaysia will launch Asean's first digital messaging centre to combat violent extremism, adopting the template used by the United States and the United Arab Emirates.

An initial allocation of RM200 million (S$67 million) is being spent to set up the facility, called the Regional Digital Counter-Messaging Communications Centre.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 21, 2016, with the headline 'Malaysia partnering Interpol to block militants' return'. Print Edition | Subscribe