KUALA LUMPUR • The police are working to bring 40 Malaysians, who are under detention for suspected involvement in terrorism, home from Syria.
Deputy Commissioner Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, the police's Counter Terrorism Division chief, said: "A total of 40, from 65 Malaysians detained in Syria, had contacted us and told us they wanted to come home. We expect the number of those who want to return to rise from time to time."
He added on Saturday, after attending an event: "We have obtained information that the camps in Syria are in a critical situation, especially due to a food shortage. Of the 40, 11 are men, and the rest are women and children."
Mr Ayob said the police could be involved only in the early stages of efforts to bring the Malaysians home, with the final say decided by the government and the communication process between foreign agencies.
He added: "The men are now being held at Al-Hasakah prison, while the women and children are placed at the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) camp."
In October last year, the police successfully brought home a Malaysian woman and two of her children, as well as a Malaysian man and another Malaysian woman whose husband was a member of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria killed in fighting.
Mr Ayob said the Malaysian men brought home will be charged in court, while the women will be questioned first on the level of their support for the militants. The children, he added, will undergo rehabilitation programmes.
He said there were still Malaysians who have been arrested for having the intention to sneak into Syria.
Meanwhile, the authorities have found that the southern Philippines is fast turning into the newest region for terror activities and attracting radicalised Malaysians, he said. "Many of them interact through social media," he said.
Earlier, Mr Ayob said that some Muslims were involved in terrorism as they accepted the deviant interpretation of Islam. "They reject views and interpretations of others and in fact their interpretation is akin to a mafia mindset," he added.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
CAMPS IN CRITICAL CONDITION
We have obtained information that the camps in Syria are in a critical situation... Of the 40 (whom Malaysian police are working to bring home), 11 are men, and the rest are women and children.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER AYOB KHAN MYDIN PITCHAY, chief of the Malaysian police's Counter Terrorism Division.