SEPANG - A Malaysian college student in Egypt on Thursday became the first person to be charged in court with supporting a terrorist group affiliated to Al-Qaeda, after having joined the group in 2014.
Mohamad Hidayat Azman, a student of Kolej Markaz Salam in Cairo, allegedly became a member of the Jund Al Aqsa group after entering Syria via a flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, reported the Bernama news agency.
If convicted, he could face a lifetime behind bars or a maximum 30-year jail term, or a fine. He is also liable for forfeiture of any property used or intended to be used in connection with the alleged offence.
Clad in a black T-shirt, Mohamad Hidayat nodded his head to indicate that he understood the charge read to him at the Malaysian Sessions Court in Sepang before Judge Noor Hafizah Mohd Salim yesterday. He was unrepresented. Deputy Public Prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin prosecuted.
No plea was recorded from Mohamad Hidayat, who was charged under Section 130J(1)(a) of the Malaysian Penal Code.
The court fixed Jan 28 this year for mention of the case.
Mohamad Hidayat was arrested on Dec 7 by the Police Counter Terrorism Division on his arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport from Egypt.
He allegedly committed the offence between Sept 5, 2014, and Sept 1 last year, reported The Malaysian Digest.
He hails from Kuala Bagan Tiang, in Tanjung Piandang, Perak.
Al-Qaeda has been overshadowed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as the chief threat arising from Islamic radicalism in recent years. ISIS has overtaken it in international coverage and in the attention paid by world governments.
However, the terror group remains active, and there are indications that it is committed to carrying out terrorist attacks on global targets, including in Malaysia.
Six members of the Tandzim Al-Qaeda group were detained in Malaysia in November last year.
Five individuals with suspected links to terrorist groups who were nabbed in raids last month included a European employed as a temporary teacher in Penang who had links with Al-Qaeda, having allegedly participated in militant activities in Afghanistan and Bosnia.
This article was first published on Jan 2, 2016. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.