CARNAGE IN PHILIPPINE CITY
PHILIPPINE forces are engaged in fierce gun battles with Islamic State-linked militants who have murdered at least 11 civilians in Marawi on Mindanao island. In Jakarta, an elite anti-terrorism unit storms the home of a man believed to have blown himself
THARANYA ARUMUGAM KUALA LUMPUR email@example.com
THE recent spate of terrorist attacks in Indonesia, Thailand and clashes in the Philippines are linked to the killing of Southeast Asian Islamic State coordinator Mohammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said an intelligence agency revealed that the recent attacks in Jakarta, Bangkok, Pattani and Mindanao were launched in retaliation to Wanndy’s death in Syria last March.
He said IS had a regional network called Katibah Nusantara.
“We in Malaysia should not feel comfortable in this situation.
“We are aware of this and the authorities are constantly monitoring their activities and are on the lookout for suspicious acts,” he said after launching the Big Splash Open Data programme in Universiti Malaya yesterday.
Zahid, who is also home minister, said the police anti-terrorism unit and the National Security Council were on high alert following the attacks.
He cautioned that an attack like the Manchester bombing could happen in this region.
Besides deploying uniformed policemen in key areas, he said plainclothes officers were also patrolling public hotspots.
“Bombings can happen anytime, anywhere and Malaysia is not immune to terrorist threats.
“We will face the same situation if we are not careful and if we are not equipped and prepared to face such threats.
“The country is going to host several major events (the Sea Games and Asean Para Games in August and September, respectively) and we must be ready to prevent such attacks.
“We urge the public to have full confidence in the police and other enforcement agencies, and to not view lightly the recent terror attacks.”
Zahid called on the public to be vigilant and report anything suspicious to the authorities.
He noted that there was joint cooperation with Interpol and Aseanapol member countries, where information would be shared between the police and intelligence agencies.
“Besides, we also have a database of suspected terrorists, and the implementation of the Advanced Passenger Screening System will prevent those with terrorism background from entering the country.
“We also monitor all entry points in the country, including several lorong tikus. And we are working closely with other agencies, such as carrying out joint patrols with the armed forces.”
On Wednesday, a pair of suicide bombers killed three Indonesian police officers near a bus station in Jakarta. Six other officers and five civilians were injured.
On Monday, a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured 64 when he detonated explosives at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, the United Kingdom.
On the same day, a bomb explosion at the Royal Thai Army-affiliated Phramongkutklao Hospital, known as the King Mongkut Hospital, injured 24 people.
Earlier this month, a car bomb in Pattani had injured 60 people.
In addition, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had declared martial law on the country’s southern island of Mindanao after a gun battle between Islamic State-affiliated Maute group and security forces in Marawi City.
Meanwhile, Zahid hoped that the open data portal, data.gov.my, set up by the government would encourage greater innovation in data analysis.
Currently, he said, there were 1,973 data sets in the portal that was open to the public, and the government had set a target of making 7,000 data sets by 2020.
“With this open data initiative, we aim to create more transparency between the government and the public,” he added.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi after launching the Big Splash Open Data programme at Universiti Malaya yesterday. With him is Prasarana Group president and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Azmi Abdul Aziz (second from right).