Malaysia beefing up intelligence sharing in region

Malaysia beefing up intelligence sharing in region
Bullet holes cover a building after heavy fighting between Islamic State group jihadists and Iraqi militia and government security forces in Dhuluiya, some 75 kms north of Baghdad on Sept 17, 2014. Malaysia has stepped up regional cooperation on intelligence sharing to counter the ISIS.

Malaysia has stepped up regional cooperation on intelligence sharing to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), especially the danger that Islamic militants pose to states such as Sabah, Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said.

Datuk Seri Hishammuddin's remarks at a press conference yesterday followed Australian news reports that funds linked to a convicted terrorist had been transferred to a Malaysian account.

He told reporters that the Malaysian authorities have been monitoring developments regarding ISIS "very, very closely... especially in the context of Sabah", which has been the target of attacks by Islamic militants from the Philippines since last year.

"I can confirm that (following) developments in Iraq and Syria with regard to ISIS and repercussions of that in our region, (we have) refocused on intelligence sharing... and I have already put in place channels for the sharing of information with international intelligence agencies," he said.

The southern Philippines, Mr Hishammuddin said, is home to groups such as Abu Sayyaf, which recognises and supports ISIS, and the Moro National Liberation Front, a paramilitary group committed to establishing an Islamic caliphate that covers Sabah, Sarawak, southern Philippines, Brunei and parts of Indonesia.

"Information regarding funds being moved and channelled, I can assure you, we will take it very seriously," he added.

According to The Australian, Bisotel Rieh Global Money Transfer, a money remittance firm linked to a convicted terrorist, is under investigation over A$9 million (S$10.3 million) in missing funds, including RM110,000 (S$43,300) to an unnamed Malaysian.

Home Affairs Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said yesterday that police had already begun investigations prior to the news report and it would be up to their Australian counterparts to take action.

Malaysia has been clamping down on Islamic militancy.

Earlier this year, a nationwide crackdown nabbed 19 people suspected of ISIS links, seven of whom are to be charged next month.

The Star yesterday also reported that security at all immigration checkpoints has been tightened following reports that four ethnic Uighurs linked to ISIS had transited in Malaysia before they were detained in Indonesia.

The Jakarta Post reported on Tuesday that the four had used fake passports bought in Thailand before entering Malaysia en route to Bandung, Java, and then on to Makassar, Sulawesi, where they were met by Indonesian militants.

This article was first published on September 19, 2014.
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