Counter-terrorism chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay says threat of terrorism looms with growing number of Malaysians wanting to join Islamic State.
PETALING JAYA: The Islamic State (IS) threat and the number of Malaysians wanting to join the militant group will continue to grow unless religious authorities and departments do more to curb extremist activities, the top anti-terrorism cop in the country said in an interview with The Star yesterday.
“IS will continue to pose a significant threat if other agencies, especially the religious authorities and departments, do not play their part in curbing the spread of the ‘salafi jihadi’ ideology, which is an extremist form of teaching,” Special Branch counter-terrorism division principal assistant director Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay told the daily.
He added that some religious experts in the country had even questioned the police over their actions in arresting suspects with links to Al-Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiah, Darul Islam and IS, just because they shared the same ideology.
Without naming the local “experts”, Ayob also urged organisers of religious forums and talks to always screen the speakers, be they local or foreign, who are invited to speak at public events, more so, when it is held in universities.
“One of them also questioned the detention of Dr Aiman Al-Dakkak, who is a senior leader in Al-Qaeda in October 2010. Aiman is responsible for recruiting Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia (UIAM) students and he also planned to launch an attack on Batu Caves,” Ayob was quoted as saying by The Star.
Meanwhile, Ayob said there has been an alarming increase in the number of Malaysians trying to join the Islamic State (IS) militant group, with a continuous uptrend in the number of arrests made over the past four years.
“In 2013 there were four people arrested for trying to join IS but it increased to 59 in 2014 and 85 last year. However, the total of those arrested has spiked drastically to 119 this year.”
“In terms of prosecution, a total of 122 suspects have been charged. So far, 62 militants have been found guilty while 38 have been detained under the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca) and 18 under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota),” Ayob told The Star, adding that the police are aware of 60 Malaysians being in Syria currently, with some being snipers while others are suicide bombers.
Most wanted man
Ayob also said the police had managed to contain more than 10 terrorist plots in the country todate.
“We have been fortunate so far in thwarting 14 terror plots, of which at least three were ordered by Mohamad Wanndy Jedi. Thus, we have to be alert on any terror chatter, especially involving Mohamad Wanndy,” he said referring to the country’s most wanted man, 26-year-old Mohamad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi, who is based in Syria.
The senior federal cop also addressed the difficulty in detecting the threats which are not organised and communicated within terror cells.
“We have never ceased from our duties of collecting intelligence as well as conducting raids and arrests. However, terror groups can easily create mayhem because militants sometimes work alone in what is described as ‘lone wolf’ attacks.
“It doesn’t take a whole group or terror squad to launch attacks. One man or attacker is enough to incite chaos,” Ayob said.
“Lone wolf attacks are much more dangerous as it is harder to detect compared with a mobilisation of a group of people. This year, we have stopped and prevented some lone wolf attacks from happening.”