Malaysian Defence Minister: Loose network of militants operating via social media

KOTA KINABALU - Militant groups in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philip­pines appear to be forming a loose network that operates via social media and websites, says Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

He said terror groups such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and Abu Sayyaf in southern Philippines were linking up with other militant organisations in Malaysia and Indonesia through such means in their support for the Islamic State (IS).

"This is something very different from what we are used to. The countermeasures by security forces in tackling threats posed by the al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah terror groups may no longer be sufficient," he said after visiting the Royal Malaysian Navy base at Teluk Sepanggar yesterday.

He said the militant groups in the three countries appeared to be taking a page out of terror cells in Europe and other Western countries by establishing loose networks among themselves.

"If you look at Sydney and Paris, we don't see a link up of terrorist cells unlike that used to be done. This phenomenon is very different from what we are used to," said Hishammuddin.

He said Malaysian security forces were trying to piece together how these loose networks were operating.

"This is also a problem faced by more advanced nations or the superpowers," he added.

On Friday, Hishammuddin said militants from Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines were moving towards forming the South-East Asia IS, which is known as the Katiban Nusantara Lid Daulah Islamiah.

He said Malaysian intelligence had also obtained information that splinter groups had made the east coast of Sabah the place to spread their ideology.

Hishammuddin noted that BIFF and Abu Sayyaf had made statements supporting the IS.