Avoid provoking IS members, criminologist tells authorities

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PETALING JAYA: As Malaysia appears to have shifted from being merely a transit point for terrorists to being a target, more security measures and care have to be employed.

An expert on terrorism studies, R Paneir Selvam, told FMT that this meant careless remarks that can perhaps provoke or challenge these terror groups should be avoided at all costs.

This also applied to Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar’s statement where he was reported to have challenged Malaysian IS members overseas to “come back instead of issuing threats from afar”, he added.

“The threat posed by terrorist groups, especially IS, is real and should not be taken lightly.

“They are willing to go to any extreme to achieve their goals,” the Association of Legal and Policy Researchers’ chairman said.

“Just look at the recent attacks in Istanbul, Brussels, and Paris. Even with high security measures in place, they were able to carry out attacks that caused massive loss of lives.

“That’s why Malaysian authorities cannot feel too secure. They can’t go and risk the public’s safety by making statements that can provoke the terrorists into launching an attack on us.”

Khalid issued the statement last Friday in response to a video featuring the first known Malaysian IS fighter in Syria who threatened to ensure Bukit Aman will no longer have peace.

In the propaganda video, three Southeast Asian IS fighters in Syria  the Malaysian identified by police as Mohd Rafi Udin from Negeri Sembilan, a Filipino and an Indonesian  took turns to urge IS supporters in their home countries to stage attacks.

The men in the video are believed to belong to IS’s Khatibah Nusantara division, the Southeast Asian branch of IS in Syria.

Paneir, a lecturer at Help University, said rather than taking the threat lightly, the authorities should instead scrutinise the real message behind the words uttered in the video which, among others, may be a call to activate the militants’ sleeper cells in the country.

“That and better security measures should be the focus.

“Many countries have fallen victim to terrorist attacks. We need to make sure Malaysia does not end up on the list.”