Malaysia’s military and police say they are on their toes. Source: Wikimedia
The so-called Southeast Asian wing of Islamic State has threatened to take revenge over the arrests of an increasing number of its members in Malaysia, prompting tighter security in the federation.
“If you catch us we will only increase in number but if you let us be, we will be closer to our goal of bringing back the rule of khalifah [caliph],” said the Malay-language video posted on an IS-sanctioned website.
“We will never bow down to the democratic system of governance, as we will only follow Allah’s rules,” they were translated saying in the video.
The one-minute video, showing fighters from the so-called Katibah Nusantara (Malay Archipelago brigade), was posted as police arrested seven Malaysian nationals they accused of plotting attacks inside the Muslim-majority country.
Police also arrested four suspects last week, including an insurance salesman they claimed was planning to attack several entertainment venues in Kuala Lumpur.
More than 500 Indonesians and dozens of Malaysians are believed to reached Syria and Iraq to fight alongside IS.
The Malaysian police said the suspects, aged 26 to 50, received orders to conduct strikes from the leaders of Katibah Nusantara, including Bahrun Naim, the Indonesian militant suspected of masterminding the January 14 attacks on Jakarta.
They said one of the seven suspects had received orders from Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, a Malaysian who joined a Malay-speaking IS unit in Syria, who was seen in a video where a Syrian man was beheaded last year.
Police said they had seized ammunition, books on jihad, Islamic State flags and propaganda videos during the operations.
Malaysia’s counter-terrorism head Ayob Khan said security agencies had stepped up their alert state throughout the federation.
“It proves that IS, especially the Katibah group, views our country as secular, and as such makes the government and the people its targets. This is no doubt in retaliation against our security forces’ actions against them,” he said.
He said counter-terrorism personnel would be more vigilant as strikes could occur at any time, stressing the importance of reliable intelligence.
“We have to be constantly on our toes and cannot afford to let our guard down,” he said.
Prime Minister Najib Razak defended his severe anti-terrorism laws, under which more than 120 people have been arrested over the past two years.
“We will not wait for [an] outrage to take place and then take action,” he said.
Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan this week told a conference in Kuala Lumpur on Islamic extremism that thousands of fighters who travelled to fight in Syria and Iraq had produced a “new generation of terrorists – many with the skills, experience and international connections required to threaten international security for years”.
“Regional challenges, such as the flow of foreign fighters and the transfer of illicit funds, must be addressed collectively,” he told the summit where 19 countries were represented.
Keenan prioritised prison policy: “On release, we prepare these individuals to reintegrate into the community by providing psychological, employment and education support. We also offer social and religious support by offering individual mentoring with trained imams.”