PETALING JAYA: The US State Department has praised Malaysia's political will in combating the threat of terrorism, particularly the influence of Islamic State (IS) and foreign terrorists.
In its Country Reports on Terrorism 2014, it singled out Malaysia's laws as being able to curb the threat of terrorism and its commitment towards strengthening border security to prevent terrorist transit.
"Malaysia's existing legal system is capable of disrupting terrorist plots before they are carried out, and before fighters travel to foreign conflicts.
"Malaysia continued to participate in the Department's Anti-terrorism Assistance programme, with programmes focused on strengthening law enforcement capacity to secure Malaysia's borders from terrorist transit," said the report, which was released yesterday.
The Bureau of Counter-terrorism, which prepared the annual report for Congress, also said that Malaysia was not a terrorist safe haven.
But it said Malaysia had reason to be concerned about the activities of violent extremist groups operating in isolated areas of the Sulawesi seas bordering the Sulu Archipelago and Southern Philippines.
These areas were listed as terrorist safe havens in the annual report, as they represented vast areas that were difficult to secure.
"Although Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have improved efforts to control their shared maritime boundaries - including through US-funded efforts to enhance domain awareness in the waters south and southwest of Mindanao - the expanse remained difficult to control," it said.
One significant challenge for Malaysia listed in the report was the strengthening of co-operation between enforcement agencies and prosecutors from the outset of an investigation as authorities were unable to file charges on nearly half of terrorism-related arrests.
It also praised Malaysia's well-developed framework to counter financing of terrorism, given fears that the country was becoming a terrorist finance hub.
"Malaysia took strong steps in 2014 to counter and reduce unauthorised money services businesses, including a series of raids in November (last year)," it added.
The Country Reports on Terrorism is a yearly report that is prepared to provide Congress with a complete report on terrorism for those countries and groups meeting the criteria of the United States Code.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak presented a White Paper in Parliament last November proposing a new anti-terror law to curb the global threat of IS and violent extremism.