Putrajaya shuts down Saudi-backed anti-terrorism centre

Najib Razak with Saudi monarch Salman Abdul Aziz in May 2017. The PH government has ordered a Saudi-backed centre in Kuala Lumpur to shut down. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The government has ordered the closure of the Saudi-backed King Salman Centre for International Peace (KSCIP) with immediate effect, Mohamad Sabu announced today.

The defence minister said the centre’s role would now be absorbed into the Malaysian Institute of Defence and Security, which comes under the Ministry of Defence.

In a parliamentary reply to DAP’s Kasthuriraani Patto (PH-Batu Kawan), Mohamad said the centre’s office at Menara HLA in Jalan Ampang was also ordered to shut down immediately.

KSCIP was first proposed following the visit by Saudi monarch Salman Abdul Aziz to Malaysia last year. The Barisan Nasional government had then agreed to allocate a massive plot of land in the administrative capital of Putrajaya.

Former defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein had defended the centre, saying it was crucial to curbing the spread of extremism and militant ideologies, including by the Islamic State (IS) group.

But critics have questioned the partnership with Saudi Arabia to fight terrorism, highlighting Riyadh’s military and ideological role worldwide.

They also said Saudi Arabia was not qualified to lead such a centre in view of its official doctrine of Wahhabism which they said inspired the IS ideology.