Suspected foreign terrorists being deported to Malaysia, says Special Branch counter-terrorism chief

Malaysia's counter-terrorism officers detaining a suspect in Pontian, Johor, who was among the 20 suspected militants arrested during a nationwide raid between Nov 30 and Dec 15, 2017.
Malaysia's counter-terrorism officers detaining a suspect in Pontian, Johor, who was among the 20 suspected militants arrested during a nationwide raid between Nov 30 and Dec 15, 2017.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia is unhappy that certain countries are deporting suspected foreign terrorists here instead of sending them to the last port of embarkation as required by law.

Bukit Aman's Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division head Deputy Commissioner Datuk Ayob Khan said some countries would actually ask the suspects where they want to be deported and many had requested to be sent to Malaysia.

Between 2014 and last year, police believe some 50 suspected foreign militants were "sent" here at their requests. Police have managed to arrest 30 and have since deported them.

Mr Ayob said among those arrested and deported were 12 from a neighbouring country, three Iraqis, two each from Russia, Australia, the Philippines and Bangladesh while the rest were from Morocco, France, China, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

"Malaysia is working at the government-to-government level and also the police to get the cooperation of other countries not to send them here.

"Should they do, we request that our counterpart alert us so that we are prepared to arrest them on their arrival and deport them," he said at the Putrajaya International Security Dialogue Friday.

Intelligence indicated that those deported to Malaysia planned to use the country as a transit point to join terror cells in other countries and even as a hideout.

"So far, we have not received information that they (those deported) wanted to launch attacks in Malaysia.

"However, they might have planned to conduct illegal businesses in order to fund their terror activities," he said.

On the whereabouts of the remaining 20 suspected militants deported here, Mr Ayob said police were unaware if they were still in the country.

"This is because we did not receive any intelligence on them, so we do not know their identities and whereabouts.

"We believe they may have left the country and used Malaysia only as transit," he added.

Last year, police arrested 107 suspected militants, a figure that is lower than the 119 individuals nabbed in 2016.

Mr Ayob said several factors contributed to this including the death of main recruiters such as Muhammed Wanndy Mohamad Jedi, arrest of militants and that social media belonging to terror groups were no longer active.

Speaking to reporters later, he said police have not received any official request from Philippine authorities for DNA samples for militant Dr Mahmud Ahmad.

In October, the bodies of Dr Mahmud and his pregnant wife were believed to be among 50 people found under a collapsed building in Marawi, Philippines.

Dr Mahmud, who was on Bukit Aman's list for over two years for his Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) links, was reportedly poised to become the new leader of the ISIS faction in Marawi.

He is believed to be the financier for the Marawi attack and is said to have received more than RM500,000 (S$166,000) from IS militants and sympathisers.