Malaysia takes hard line against terrorism

The Malaysian police have detained more than 100 suspected Malaysian militants, including former commando Muhammad Adibzakir Zahri (centre), who was charged in September with encouraging membership in ISIS.
The Malaysian police have detained more than 100 suspected Malaysian militants, including former commando Muhammad Adibzakir Zahri (centre), who was charged in September with encouraging membership in ISIS.PHOTO: SIN CHEW DAILY

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia has consistently taken a hard-line stance against terrorism and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), with the government in a constant battle against local Muslims who have been influenced by these insidious forces.

In his address to the United Nations Economic and Social Council on countering and preventing the spread of violent extremism in September, Prime Minister Najib Razak unequivocally condemned ISIS for perpetrating crimes using the name of Islam and misrepresenting the religion.

Datuk Seri Najib also called on world leaders to confront terrorism during the opening of the Asean Summit in Kuala Lumpur last week. Malaysia will be setting up a messaging centre soon to counter the terrorists' narrative of Islam, and will also use social media and other messaging tools.

Malaysia has been taking proactive counter-terrorism measures with its police successfully identifying and arresting recruits to the extremist cause who were planing to travel to the Middle East.

The police have detained more than 100 suspected Malaysian militants and said it has foiled several terror plots in the country, including one on kidnapping top politicians.

The country, as Asean chairman this year, was also a driving force in leading all 10 Asean nations to sign a joint declaration in March to strengthen regional security, especially against threats posed by terrorist organisations.

Still, the nation has so far been silent on air strikes launched by France against Syria following terror attacks in Paris on Nov 13.

Putrajaya has also not articulated clearly its position on how it sees the political future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Malaysia, though, has been open to welcoming refugees fleeing persecution, with the government pledging to take in 3,000 Syrian immigrants over the next three years.

Eunice Au

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2015, with the headline 'Malaysia takes hard line against terrorism'. Print Edition | Subscribe