The Islamic State threat is real now in Malaysia

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By R Paneir Selvam

Yesterday, a Pakistani suicide bomber killed himself and caused injuries to two policemen in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Then, another suicide bomber was killed himself while attempting to blow up a Shia Mosque in Qatif. Later, in Medina, a suicide bomber killed four officers, in an attack which was targeted at the security forces.

Until now, no one has taken any responsibility for the attacks in Saudi Arabia but authorities believe the attacks were inspired by the Islamic State. Meanwhile, in Kuwait, police arrested seven terrorist suspects in order to avert any attacks on their soil.

Two days ago, yet again, two separate car bombs detonated in the predominately Shia areas of Baghdad, killing more than 120 people, including 25 children, and wounded more than 150 people. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The day before, Dhaka was stunned by a deadly attack by Islamic State-inspired local young Bangladeshis who killed 20 hostages and two policemen brutally. Most of their victims were foreigners.

These terrorists are willing to die for the cause they believe in by maximising the impact of their attacks.

Last Tuesday, Istanbul was under siege. A well-coordinated suicide attack on the Ataturk Airport by three suicide bombers killed 44 people.

Until now, no one has taken responsibility, but the United States believes that the attack is by the Islamic State, as signs emerged that a member of one of the most feared Islamic State battalions may have been involved. This battalion uses the method of kamikaze, which is known as “inghimasi”, to maximise injuries on their victims.

Last week, Puchong, Selangor, came under a grenade attack. The police here have now confirmed that it was indeed a terrorist attack and arrested 15 people, including two policemen.

On June 21, Islamic State had released a video, featuring a Malaysian, Muhamad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi, urging IS supporters to kill non-Muslims in Malaysia.

Officially, Islamic State has landed on our shores by launching this attack. Therefore, in future, more deadly attacks are likely to come from them.

Islamic State is different from any other known terrorist groups like al-Qaeda. They are more violent and also willing to kill their own Muslim brothers, whether Shias or Sunnis, to achieve their goals. They do not even observe the sanctity of the month of Ramadan.

Their victims are men, women and children. They always choose public places like airports, shopping malls, cafes and hotels as their target to terrorise the public. Their victims are almost always foreigners. They also highlight their brutality on social media to garner more support.

The core strategy of the Islamic State is to terrify their opponents by ferocity. Beheading their hostages or burning them alive demonstrate that they are heartless.

One of the major differences between Islamis State and other terrorist groups is the use of social media.

Islamic State has effectively used social media to spread their concept of “war” and their justifications are always in tow with religion for recruitment purposes. They are also financially more capable and willing to pay salaries and other perks, including foreign and local wives, as an inducement to join them.

Abu Sayyaf

In April this year, Abu Sayyaf kidnapped four Malaysians and released them after their families paid the ransom. Abu Sayyaf is the most feared terrorist group in Borneo and their so called “expertise” is in kidnapping and beheading their hostages.

Abu Sayyaf has also pledged loyalty to the Islamic State. It is also believed that ransom is their main source of income to conduct their terrorist activities. In addition, they have numerous sympathisers in Sabah and Sarawak to help them identify and kidnap their victims.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of UK has warned its citizens to avoid travelling to the eastern coast of Sabah, warning of a high threat from terrorism, especially to foreigners.

The collaboration of Islamic State and Abu Sayyaf is a lethal combination of threats for national and border security in Sabah and Sarawak. The porous borders of Sabah are more vulnerable to attacks compared with Sarawak.

The first attack by the militant group in Puchong now makes the other parts of Malaysia, especially Sarawak and Sabah, also exposed to such attacks. Therefore, the declaration of Islamic State against “nusantara”, especially Malaysia, is so real.

Recently in New Zealand, Imran Patel, a 26-year-old man was jailed for possessing, copying and distributing Islamic State material. He was the second man to be convicted for such offences in New Zealand. This shows that the far-fetched influence of Islamic State is not only predominant in Middle East countries but has also spread to Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa and America as well.

Islamic State is global phenomenon. By now, the formation of sleeper cells are conceivable in Malaysia. Young minds are brainwashed and trained to go against their own people and nation.

In recent months, the Malaysian authorities had arrested more than 160 suspected terrorists or sympathisers. These included government servants and security personnel.

One can no longer feel comfortable thinking that terrorist attacks only happen outside this country. In reality, the Puchong attack has proved otherwise.

The current political and economic situation could also allow Islamic State to penetrate the minds of young people with effective social media propaganda to recruit the vulnerable to take up arms against this nation.

Informers neutralise threat

Islamic State is always evolving itself. Therefore, the security and intelligence agencies, together with religious authorities, have to reeducate and reengage with youths so that they would not fall prey.

One of the most important tools used by the British to neutralise communist insurgents was to establish a close relationship with the people. People became informers and the British were then able to successfully eliminate the communist threat.

Therefore, to eradicate Islamic State terrorists in Malaysia, people have to play a proactive role. They have to put the security and interest of this nation as paramount. The intelligence and security agencies need this help from the public to thwart this threat.

Therefore, the public needs to be vigilant all the times because it is impossible for the security forces to safeguard public places like airports, shopping malls, cafes, clubs, international schools, universities and public transportation with their limited resources.

So, it is time for citizens now to play a proactive role by giving information on any unwanted or suspicious incidents or persons to the authorities as soon as possible to prevent any militant attacks from occurring here because prevention is always better than cure.

R. Paneir Selvam is an FMT reader.

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