KL deports 29 Uighurs, thanks to info sharing with China

BEIJING • Sharing biometric information with China since 2011 enabled Malaysia to arrest 29 Uighur militants involved with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group and deport them to China for prosecution, said Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi yesterday.

He said China had praised Malaysia's action over their arrests and bilateral security cooperation has since been strengthened.

"They were arrested after having entered Malaysia through neighbouring countries by using false passports," Datuk Seri Zahid, who is also Home Minister, told Malaysian journalists in Beijing.

Mr Zahid said Malaysia's success in the Uighur deportations had prompted Mr Meng Jianzhu, secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China, to tell him that Beijing had agreed to provide several pieces of equipment for the use of the Counter Messaging Centre supervised by the Royal Malaysia Police.

Malaysia is building the centre to track terrorism-related messages, including obtaining information on terrorists' activities and individuals financing such activities to plan attacks in the country, southern Philippines and southern Thailand.

Members of the Uighur minority from Xinjiang province are known to have travelled to South-east Asia to escape the Chinese authorities, with some accused of supporting the ideology of ISIS.

Mr Zahid said China also commended the proactive measures taken by Malaysia to address online gambling and fraud, such as the so-called Macau scams. Kuala Lumpur arrested 416 Chinese nationals involved in these scams and deported them from 2014 to 2016.

"This move is taken because such crimes destroy the family institution and affected the family income of victims," he said.

He said cooperation between China and Malaysia will be intensified through the Mutual Legal Assistance scheme where both countries could deport nationals wanted for offences relating to trans-border crimes.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2017, with the headline 'KL deports 29 Uighurs, thanks to info sharing with China'. Print Edition | Subscribe