Malaysia a transit hub for terrorists due to visa-free travel, police say

The US State Department's Country Reports on Terrorism 2018 stated that Malaysia was not attacked by terrorist groups such as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and Al-Qaeda but was used by them as a source and transit point.
PHOTO: Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia has remained a transit point for terrorists as those coming from most Middle Eastern countries and several African nations do not require a visa, says counter-terrorism chief Ayob Khan.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Ayob, who heads the Special Branch's Counter-Terrorism Division, or E8, said the ability to enter Malaysia quickly without first applying for a visa has made it the first choice of foreign terrorist fighters.

"Most foreign militants are of Arab and African nationalities."

"Malaysia has become their first choice since they (could) enter the country without a visa," he told a news conference after attending an event on Tuesday (Nov 5).

While acknowledging that it was not a new issue, Datuk Ayob said the government is working to address the matter.

"Since 2013, we have arrested 38 foreign terrorist fighters, who used Malaysia as a transit (point). Some were prosecuted while others were deported," he added.

The US State Department's Country Reports on Terrorism 2018 stated that Malaysia was not attacked by terrorist groups such as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda but was used by them as a source and transit point.

The report said Malaysia was used as a transit point by suspected ISIS supporters deported from Turkey, and those planning to travel to the southern Philippines to support ISIS-affiliated groups.

On the terrorism financing front, DCP Ayob said police are working closely with various entities, including the Malaysian central bank, local banks as well as the private sector to address the issue.

"The amount involved are usually small amount but it is frequently made. As I said before, no matter the amount, it is still an offence to channel the funds in support of terrorist groups and activities."

"A total of 22 investigation papers on terrorism funding have been opened since 2016. Of the number, 19 convictions were recorded while three others are currently being prosecuted," he said.

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