Anti-terror steps being taken to stop spread of IS ideology among detainees

Earlier this year, a family of five were among 14 suspects arrested in Shah Alam and Damansara in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for allegedly recruiting members to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) through social media.

KAJANG: Wary of the influence IS detainees and other terror groups can exert on people they come into contact with, the Home Ministry will be sending wardens for retraining on how to thwart such "advances".

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said this was to ensure suspected terrorists detained under the country's new anti-terror laws, were prevented from spreading their ideology while under detention.

"The training will be conducted by ministry experts who can counter IS ideology and deal with people who have been influenced by it," he said.

Dr Wan Junaidi said the ministry was aware of the influence IS detainees wield following the case of former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee Yazid Safaat who tried to influence several prison wardens.

"It is a challenge for the Prisons Department. It's not only about detainees influencing other detainees but detainees trying to influence the officers," he said after presenting Excellence Award certificates to 264 personnel from the prison department's central zone yesterday.

One area of concern, he noted, was that wardens, who lack understanding of Islam and jihad, would become easy prey for the detainees.

"If their knowledge is shallow, then they (wardens) may end up being influenced like IS followers.

"We have to strengthen this area and the department is looking into this," he said.

Wan Junaidi was asked to comment on measures taken to prevent the spread of IS ideology by those detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota).

On April 7, when debating the Pota Bill in Parliament, Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi revealed that Yazid tried but failed to influence several wardens after being detained.

Yazid, who was detained for seven years under ISA on suspicion of being involved with the Jemaah Islamiyah militant group, was released in December 2008.

In early 2013, he was detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) and convicted last June of promoting acts of terrorism in strife-torn Syria.

Meanwhile, department director-general Datuk Seri Zulkifli Omar said a seminar was held last month for personnel and senior officers on IS.

"We wanted to alert our officers on the dangers of IS so that they can guard themselves against being influenced," he said.

At present, he said there was no IS follower among the Prisons Department personnel.

On the location of the Pota detention centres, he said this would be revealed once the new anti-terror law is gazetted.