Terror threat at 'a whole new level' in Malaysia

"The threat is real and we hope this (White Paper) will create more awareness on both sides of the political divide and (among) Malaysians as a whole," Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told The Star newspaper yesterday. -- PHOTO: THE STAR
"The threat is real and we hope this (White Paper) will create more awareness on both sides of the political divide and (among) Malaysians as a whole," Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told The Star newspaper yesterday. -- PHOTO: THE STAR

Minister hopes White Paper detailing foreign threat will raise awareness

KUALA LUMPUR - The national security threat posed by foreign terror groups working with local militants has reached "a whole new level", Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said.

A White Paper on the militancy threat has been tabled and will be debated in Parliament.

The policy document will detail how terrorist organisations such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are trying to influence local political parties and raise funds through social media.

"The threat is real and we hope this (White Paper) will create more awareness on both sides of the political divide and (among) Malaysians as a whole," he told The Star newspaper yesterday.

"If they (ISIS) can kill among Muslims, then they are able to kill non­Muslims (also).

"People must be alerted (to this) and precautions should be taken," the minister said.

The White Paper - only the third such policy document issued in Malaysia - will outline proposed measures to combat and prevent terrorism.

Datuk Seri Zahid said Prime Minister Razak Najib will touch on the involvement of Malaysians in terror cells and the need to amend existing laws or introduce new ones to combat terrorism.

"We will either strengthen the seven existing laws by amending the clauses or propose a new Anti­Terrorism Act as a preventive measure," the Home Minister added.

The previous two White Papers focused on the activities of two local deviationist sects.

"This time around, the foreign threat is real and the threat from within is also real," Dr Zahid said.

"What is worse now is that Malaysian fighters are connected to foreign fighters and this poses a whole new level of threat."

Some 100 Malaysians were identified as being involved in extremist activities, of whom 39 were involved with militant groups in Syria and Iraq, especially ISIS, according to the Home Ministry.

"Five have returned to Malaysia. Three have been arrested and two others are still under investigation," the minister said.

The Home Ministry is monitoring social media on two fronts - the recruitment of Malaysians and the terror cells getting more donations and funding, Dr Zahid said.

He also said foreign militants were trying to influence local parties through their members.

He urged both ruling and opposition MPs to debate the White Paper "sincerely".

"The important thing is for us to work together… It is about the security of the country," he said.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK