Govt warns of returning Islamic State fighters
> Mosul offensive may force many to flee to home countries: Hishammuddin
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.
Budiman and Mastura taking their oath yesterday.