PETALING JAYA: The risk of Islamic State (IS) militants returning to Malaysia, including foreigners making a beeline for Southeast Asia, has heightened with Iraqi forces claiming on Sunday that they have driven out all IS militants from Mosul and Raqqa.
The two former strongholds for the Islamic terrorist group fell in recent weeks to the Iraqis, who were supported by some Western nations, with many IS militants fleeing to neighbouring countries.
Speaking on the issue yesterday, Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told Channel NewsAsia that intelligence reports indicate that IS fighters of various nationalities are now fleeing the Middle East altogether and heading to Southeast Asia where they plan to set up a new base.
Hishammuddin said this after addressing the Cheras Umno divisional meeting in Kuala Lumpur, where he declared IS as the No 1 enemy of the government.
He called for party members to unite against the threat that IS will pose to the country and the region.
“The successful offensive against the IS in Mosul, Raqqa and Aleppo (Syria) have sent scores of militants fleeing the Middle East. Due to this, Malaysia must be on the highest alert.
“What happened in the Middle East has a direct impact here. So, the question is where did they go? This we need to monitor,” Hishammuddin was quoted as saying by the Singapore-based regional news network.
He added that he will be visiting Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain this week to obtain the latest intelligence reports on the militants and their whereabouts.
“They (IS) have already announced that they want to be established in places like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
“This is not something new if that’s their agenda. This area will be their focus, every country in Asean will have to look at this seriously,” he was quoted as saying by CNA.