Malaysia doubles security efforts ahead of Asean summit

Malaysia doubles security efforts ahead of Asean summit
Malaysia's landmark KL Tower is lit up in red, white and blue, resembling the colours of the French flag, in Kuala Lumpur on November 15, 2015.
PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - Several countries are now on high alert after the terror attacks in Paris, but Bukit Aman is taking security here several notches higher than that.

This is because Malaysia is playing host to the ASEAN Summit next week with several world leaders, including the United States' President Barack Obama, scheduled to attend.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said that all branches and divisions had increased their vigilance and doubled efforts to keep the nation secure.

Among the steps taken was a relook at the security arrangements for the summit, which will be held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

"We will not let our guard down," Khalid said, particularly in light of intelligence reports on plans by ­terrorist group Islamic State for the region.

The Star ran a front-page report yesterday that former university lecturer-turned-militant Dr Mah­mud Ahmad was forming a South-East Asia IS terror bloc.

From his hideout in the Philip­pines, he means to train suicide bombers to launch more attacks in the region, including in Malaysia.

Khalid said police would use all its resources to stop Dr Mahmud.

"We are working with our counterparts in neighbouring countries to prevent his plan from becoming a reality," he said.

Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division head Senior Asst Comm Datuk Ayob Khan said intelligence gathering was a vital tool to prevent terror attacks.

He added that the Paris attacks seemed consistent with the new IS doctrine of ordering its supporters to create carnage in their home countries instead of going to Syria to fight.

"Malaysian IS members have tried to carry out similar attacks here (in Malaysia), targeting ­government buildings and entertainment outlets. But we have foiled them," SAC Ayob said, attributing the success to close co-operation among security forces in the region and unceasing intelligence gathering. "We cannot afford to take anything for granted."

SAC Ayob said Dr Mahmud was a priority on the division's list, given the man's expertise in bomb-­making.

A total of 136 people have been arrested for militancy involvement in the country, including 15 Armed Forces personnel, since February 2013.

In Manila, about 18,000 policemen were drafted to guard venues, hotels and routes ahead of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit and related meetings.

Obama and fellow leaders Vladimir Putin of Russia, Xi Jinping of China and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are among the leaders scheduled to attend the summit.

Singapore had raised its alert level, stepping up security mea­sures, border checks and overall vigilance, said its Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam.

In New York, police on heightened alert deployed counter-terrorism reinforcements to crowded places and outside the French mission to the United Nations, as well as the French consulate.

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