Malaysia monitoring would-be militants heading for Mid-East

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's Home Ministry is working with Interpol and other intelligence agencies to monitor Malaysians who use other countries, including Singapore, as transit points to Iraq and Syria, where they join extremist groups, its minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has said.

Suspected militants are using Indonesia and Thailand as well as Singapore to get to the Middle East, a New Straits Times report quoted him as saying yesterday.

"We are working with Interpol and our intelligence unit is monitoring these people because they don't travel straight from Malaysia," he was quoted as telling reporters after opening the 23rd Security Services Association Malaysia Annual General Meeting at the Putra World Trade Centre yesterday.

In response to a query about Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid's remarks, Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs said that it too was working to monitor the movements of such would-be militants.

"Terrorism is a transnational threat and Singapore cooperates closely with regional and international partners to guard against this threat," said a spokesman for the Singapore ministry.

The NST reported that Malaysia's Home Ministry had identified up to 20 Malaysians who are fighting abroad as jihadists with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which now simply calls itself the Islamic State.

"The government would like to stress that we don't endorse the Islamic State militants of Syria and Iraq, nor are we a hub for terrorism and a terrorist training centre," Dr Ahmad Zahid said, adding that the country's stand against this matter was firm.

He also said that the Police Intelligence Unit was investigating reports that three Malaysian women had allegedly travelled to the Middle East in a so-called "sexual jihad" to act as "comfort women" for ISIS fighters.

In Kuching, the NST reported Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar saying: "There is no such thing as 'comfort women' in Islam. This clearly shows that they are just extremists that terrorise the peace of a nation."

After chairing a Home Ministry meeting, Mr Wan Junaidi also said that anyone taking up arms abroad would be arrested when they return home.

He said: "We do not want Malaysia to be a sanctuary for the world's extremists and we stand firm against any act of terrorism in the name of Islam."

This article was first published on August 30, 2014.
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