PETALING JAYA: Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim has questioned how immigration officials allowed suspected foreign militants belonging to the Islamic State (IS) terrorist network, also known as Daesh, to enter Malaysia after they were deported by other countries.
The DAP legislator said about 30 of these fighters were reported to have made it into Malaysia despite the “billion ringgit” biometric and computerised immigration management system in place.
He said he had raised concerns about the system’s ineffectiveness before as well as an insider syndicate allegedly facilitating the flouting of immigration laws.
“During the MH370 crisis, the Malaysian immigration authority was criticised for their admission of not checking visitors against the Interpol database and allowing two Iranians with forged passports to pass,” he said.
The Iranians, Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad and Delavar Seyed Mohammadreza, reportedly used stolen passports to travel under the names Luigi Maraldi and Christian Kozel on the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing which disappeared on March 8, 2014. The two were said to be seeking asylum in Europe.
“Today, two months ago, the government allowed at least 30 Daesh fighters into our border,” he said in a statement.
“It is unfortunate that Home Minister cum Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi busied himself, and tragically, the agencies under his charge, to dig an old NRIC of Dr Mahathir Mohamad instead of dealing decisively and competently against the crisis facing his ministry,” Sim added.
He was referring to Zahid revealing the details of the PPBM chairman’s old identity card to delegates of an Umno function on Sunday.
Sim said this after receiving a parliamentary reply from Zahid, who is also the Umno MP for Bagan Datuk, to his question on the status of IS fighters in the country.
Sim referred to a New Straits Times report on May 16 that no fewer than 30 known militants, who travelled by posing as tourists had been “dumped” in Malaysia after they were stopped from entering Syria to fight alongside the IS there.
The report quoted sources as saying the fighters had been detained at airports in several countries for their “potential risk to national security” before coming to Malaysia.
In his reply, Zahid said the militants had been deported by the other countries without proper procedure as Malaysian authorities such as the police, immigration department and foreign ministry had not been notified that they were headed here.
Zahid also said that despite the circumstances, the police had detained 14 people and all had been deported.
Sim also asked where the rest of the suspected extremists were.
“After almost two months, we have only rounded up less than half the Daesh fighters who entered our country in May 2017,” Sim said.
“I do not know which is more frightening: that there are at least 16 known Daesh fighters in our midst or that even our authorities do not know how many Daesh fighters were brought into Malaysia and their whereabouts today.”
He said there was clearly a crisis within the home ministry since the issue came under its jurisdiction.