BANGKOK: Malaysia believes terror group Islamic State (IS) may be looking for a new base after the death of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Home Affairs Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Wednesday (Nov 27).
Baghdadi killed himself during a raid by US national forces in northwest Syria, US President Donald Trump confirmed in October.
Mr Muhyiddin said authorities will remain vigilant after Baghdadi's death.
“We believe that al-Baghdadi’s death will open up another chapter in Daesh’s terror operation. After losing much of its territory in Syria and Iraq, Daesh is also looking for a new base," said Mr Muhyiddin, using the Arabic name for the terrorist organisation.
“There are also growing threats from returning foreign terrorist fighters, online radicalisation, and lone-wolf attacks,” he said at the Plenary Session of 13th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime in Bangkok.
READ: The Big Read: Battered in the Middle East, Islamic State eyes Southeast Asia as next terrorism hotspot
The minister said Malaysia has taken steps to fully utilise the Interpol database to screen incoming travellers to stop criminals or terrorists from entering the country.
Malaysia, through the establishment of the Counter Messaging Centre, monitors and disrupts online radicalisation carried out on social media platforms. This has led to several arrests being made and has helped pre-empt potential attacks, he said.
“For the past six years, (the) Royal Malaysia Police has successfully foiled 25 attempts by Daesh to carry out attacks in Malaysia and arrested 512 suspects involved in Daesh-linked activities,” he said.
COMBATING OTHER CRIMES
Sharing its efforts to stop money laundering and counter-terrorism financing, Mr Muhyiddin said Malaysia has taken necessary measures including the launch of the Malaysia Financial Intelligence Network, which is a public-private partnership between the Financial Intelligence Unit, the police and financial institutions.
“This network will enable an intelligence-led approach that would improve the submission of Suspicious Transaction Reports for necessary investigation and prosecution,” he said.
On combating human trafficking, Mr Muhyiddin reaffirmed Malaysia’s commitment to bring perpetrators to justice in relation to a human trafficking camp in Wang Kelian at the Malaysia-Thai border in 2015.
The mass killings grabbed headlines in May 2015 when police discovered 139 graves and 106 bodies believed to be Rohingyas and 29 illegal immigrant detention camps deep in the jungles of Bukit Genting Perah and Bukit Wang Burma, a few hundred metres from the Malaysia-Thai border in Wang Kelian.
Malaysia is committed to supporting actions and measures to combat transnational crime at the national, regional and international level, he added.
Transnational crime has grave implications on the stability, security, sovereignty and public order of an individual nation, he said.
“Malaysia believes that transnational crime is a serious global concern that could potentially endanger the stability and security of nations and consequently threaten regional and international peace," Mr Muhyiddin said.
“We must find the opportunity to strengthen our working relations for us to establish efficient channels of communication.
“We must come together collectively to share and coordinate our efforts and expand existing international cooperation beyond the current practices so that we could be steadfast in our response against transnational crime issues."