Kuala Lumpur says foreign militants eyeing Malaysia as safe haven

Three suspects being arrested in anti-terror operations in Kuala Lumpur last month. Malaysian police have in recent years captured foreign militants who were using the country as a transit point between the Middle East and the southern Philippines -
Three suspects being arrested in anti-terror operations in Kuala Lumpur last month. Malaysian police have in recent years captured foreign militants who were using the country as a transit point between the Middle East and the southern Philippines - the home base of several militant groups, some of which are affiliated to ISIS.PHOTO: MALAYSIA SPECIAL BRANCH'S COUNTER TERRORISM DIVISION

Malaysian police said yesterday that it has uncovered a plan by foreign militants to use the country as a "safe haven" transit and logistics centre, following the collapse of terrorist outfit Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Middle East.

The militants plan to marry local women to get spousal visas to enable them to live in Malaysia, or to remain in the country by using education facilities, or by being involved in business, Malaysia's police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun said in a statement yesterday.

His statement accompanied the announcement of the deportation of seven foreigners, some of whom he said were planning to launch large-scale attacks in several countries.

Several suspected foreign militants were captured in Malaysia in recent months, including last month. They were registered as students of colleges or as lecturers.

Two Malaysians were also nabbed by anti-terror police in the raids last month.

Inspector-General of Police Fuzi said that investigations by the Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division found that the foreign terrorists were trying to make Malaysia a base.

"We view seriously the infiltration of foreign terrorist fighters in the country due to the defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria," he said.

"These foreign terrorist fighters could also set up base here to attack another country, or by even launching attacks in Malaysia," he added.

 
 
 
 

Malaysian police have in recent years captured foreign militants who were using Malaysia, including Sabah, as a transit point between the Middle East and the southern Philippines - the home base of several militant groups, some of which are affiliated to ISIS.

Tan Sri Fuzi said that the suspected militants have been deported to their countries of origin and blacklisted to prevent them from entering Malaysia again.

They included five men who admitted to being members of Egypt's Ikhwanul Muslimin, or Muslim Brotherhood.

Rights groups say they are concerned that members of the Muslim Brotherhood may face possible torture in Egypt, as it is branded a terrorist group in the country.

The police chief said a Tunisian and an Egyptian, who were members of Ansar al-Sharia al-Tunisia, a group listed as a terrorist outfit by the United Nations, were among those deported.

"This terror group is suspected of being involved in plans to launch large-scaled attacks in other countries," he said in the statement, referring to the Tunisian group. He did not say which countries were being targeted in the planned attacks.

"Three suspects - a Malaysian man and woman, together with an Egyptian man - were nabbed in Serian, Sarawak, for concealing information on the presence of Ansar al-Shariah al-Tunisia's operatives who transited in Malaysia," Mr Fuzi said. "They protected them and acted as a facilitator in providing lodging, jobs and purchasing of flight tickets."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2019, with the headline 'KL says foreign militants eyeing Malaysia as safe haven'. Print Edition | Subscribe