Govt warns of re­turn­ing Is­lamic State fight­ers

> Mo­sul of­fen­sive may force many to flee to home coun­tries: Hisham­mud­din

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

KUALA LUMPUR: The gov­ern­ment warned that Is­lamic State (IS) fight­ers may re­turn to their home coun­tries if the cur­rent Mo­sul of­fen­sive by coali­tion forces in Iraq proves suc­cess­ful.

De­fence Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Hisham­mud­din Hus­sein said the fight­ers may flee to their home coun­tries or at­tempt to seek safe havens to hide in.

“The num­ber is not small, tens of thou­sands who are di­rectly in­volved with IS may flee, which is why proac­tive mea­sures need to be taken,” Hisham­mud­din told a press con­fer­ence at the Par­lia­ment lobby yes­ter­day.

He said his ministry and the armed forces are closely mon­i­tor­ing the of­fen­sive in Iraq for de­vel­op­ments.

Hisham­mud­din said he also met with de­fence min­is­ters from Turkey, France and the US de­fence sec­re­tary, who are fac­ing the same threat, to forge a strong and up-to-date in­for­ma­tion net­work.

He stressed on the im­por­tance of hav­ing the nec­es­sary in­for­ma­tion on IS fight­ers due to the ease of travel in a “bor­der­less, glob­alised world”.

Hisham­mud­din said other na­tions in the re­gion, too, face the same threat and ef­forts to strengthen re­la­tions with In­done­sia and the Philip­pines must be fast-tracked.

He said this is es­pe­cially im­por­tant when it comes to the Sulu Sea, where arms, drugs and peo­ple-smug­gling is com­mon, and the gov­ern­ment has in­vited Brunei to co­op­er­ate as well. “There is also the Abu Sayyaf ter­ror­ist group (in south­ern Philip­pines) which has al­ready de­clared its al­le­giance to IS,” Hisham­mud­din said.

He added all Asean mem­ber na­tions have been briefed about the Mo­sul of­fen­sive.

Dozens of Malaysians have trav­elled to Iraq or Syria to join IS and some, in­clud­ing for­mer PAS mem­ber Mohd Lotfi Arif­fin, have re­port­edly been killed.

ADIB RAWI YAHYA/ THESUN

Budi­man and Mas­tura taking their oath yes­ter­day.

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