Malaysia says ISIS may shift operations to South-east Asia

Malaysian Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the country will remain on guard against threats posed by fighters returning from abroad. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - A Malaysian minister warned on Wednesday (Nov 27) that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group may shift its base of operations to South-east Asia after the death of its leader, according to a media report.

The authorities in the region have said it will be a long battle to thwart the group's ideology, even after ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killed himself by detonating a suicide vest during a raid by US special forces in north-west Syria in October.

Malaysia will remain on guard against threats posed by fighters returning from abroad, online radicalisation and possible lone-wolf attacks, Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said at a meeting of ministers from members of Asean in Bangkok.

"We believe that al-Baghdadi's death will open up another chapter in Daesh's terror operation. After losing much of its territory in Syria and Iraq, Daesh is also looking for a new base," Mr Muhyiddin was quoted as saying by Malaysian news agency Bernama.

Daesh is the Arabic-language acronym for ISIS and the name Malaysia commonly uses to refer to the group.

Mr Muhyiddin, whose ministry oversees the police force, said Malaysia had foiled 25 planned attacks by ISIS in the country and arrested 512 people with suspected links to the group over the past six years.

Malaysia has been on high alert since January 2016, when gunmen allied with ISIS carried out a series of attacks in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

ISIS also claimed responsibility for a grenade attack on a bar in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur in June 2016 that wounded eight people. It was the first such strike on Malaysian soil.

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