PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has seen an increase in the number of terror suspects facing trial, Channel NewsAsia (CNA) reported yesterday.
There are currently court cases involving suspected terrorists taking place almost every two weeks, according to lawyers.
“We do see a lot of people pleading guilty when they are charged with terror offences. Most of the time they plead guilty in turn for a lesser sentence,” Syahredzan Johan told the regional news network.
What’s worse is that in most of the cases, the family members of these terror suspects are nowhere to be seen.
But that’s not the case for Nor Azmi Jalani, 29, who was arrested in 2015 and charged with being part of a terror plot to assassinate prominent Malaysian leaders, including Prime Minister Najib Razak, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.
Nor Azmi, 29, has the support of his family, with his mother and eldest brother driving all the way from Johor every week to attend his trial at the Duta court complex in Kuala Lumpur.
Ramlah, 62, sees it as the only opportunity to meet with her son, aside from a monthly visit to the Sungei Buloh prison where he has been jailed since he was charged.
According to CNA, Nor Azmi is one of five sons for Ramlah, and all of them served in the military, like their father.
Nor Azmi has pleaded not guilty to the charges of terrorism against him, claiming that he had no link to any assassination plot and was just driving a friend to the location where police say a gathering was taking place to discuss the terror plot.
He faces a jail term of 12 years if found guilty.
Rosmah laments the fact that not a single army representative was present in court, nor has there been any form of help or contact by the army since Nor Azmi was arrested.
Syahredzan warned about the lack of support for family members of terror suspects, saying that the authorities must widen their scope to tackle the root cause for people supporting the Islamic State (IS) terror group.
“If family members feel isolated and wronged by the system, it could lead to more cases of extremism.
“We cannot just focus on prosecution – how many have been prosecuted and how many have been rehabilitated – but we must also look at the environment. Are we allowing environments that encourage extremism?” he was quoted as saying by CNA.
Syahredzan also highlighted the government’s mixed signals when it comes to the issue of race and religion that has only added to the possibility of more people turning to extremism.
“There may be a situation where we are actually breeding racial and religious superiority? Ideologically, that means being exclusive with no space for other religions.
“That’s something we need to look at, and we can’t look at it in isolation,” Syahredzan told CNA.
He gave the example of how government officials taking selfies with preachers such as Mufti Menk and Zakir Naik, are actions that may have far reaching repercussions.
“The government ought to be more wary of such people. Otherwise, it’ll give people the impression that the authorities are OK with them.
“So, whatever they say must be acceptable, and with that, slowly extremist thoughts will seep into society and take root,” Syahredzan was quoted as saying by CNA.