Malaysia ar­rests 17 in sus­pected ter­ror plot: po­lice

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

Malaysia’s po­lice chief said on Mon­day that 17 peo­ple, in­clud­ing two who re­cently re­turned from Syria, had been ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of plot­ting ter­ror at­tacks in the cap­i­tal Kuala Lumpur.

Au­thor­i­ties in the Mus­lim­ma­jor­ity coun­try have ex­pressed in­creas­ing alarm over the threat of Mus­lim mil­i­tancy in the wake of the Is­lamic State (IS) group’s bloody ji­had in Syria and Iraq.

“Seven­teen peo­ple were plan- ning ter­ror ac­tiv­i­ties in Kuala Lumpur. Two of them had re­cently re­turned from Syria,” na­tional po­lice chief Khalid Abu Bakar said in a Twit­ter post.

Khalid said place Sun­day.

No other de­tails, in­clud­ing the sus­pects’ na­tion­al­i­ties or specifics of the al­leged plot, were men­tioned.

AFP was not im­me­di­ately able to reach anti-ter­ror­ism of­fi­cials for com­ment.

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The tough-talk­ing Khalid was also quoted by lo­cal me­dia say­ing he “will never al­low Malaysia to be a tran­sit point or hide­out for any ter­ror groups.”

Malaysia has tra­di­tion­ally ob­served a mod­er­ate form of Is­lam, and au­thor­i­ties keep a tight lid on mil­i­tancy.

But the gov­ern­ment has in­creas­ingly warned that Malaysian re­cruits to the IS cause could re­turn home with the group’s rad­i­cal ide­ol­ogy.

Po­lice said in Jan­uary they had ar­rested a to­tal of 120 peo­ple with sus­pected IS group links or sym­pa­thies, or who had sought to travel to Syria or Iraq.

They also said 67 Malaysians were known at the time to have gone abroad to join IS ji­hadists, and that five had died fight­ing for the move­ment.

Last week, the gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced a new anti-ter­ror­ism bill to counter any po­ten­tial threat.

The bill al­lows au­thor­i­ties

to de­tain ter­ror­ism sus­pects for po­ten­tially un­lim­ited pe­ri­ods with­out trial, ac­cord­ing to its crit­ics.

The po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion, legal or­ga­ni­za­tions, Hu­man Rights Watch, and oth­ers have urged the gov­ern­ment to with­draw the pro­posed new law, call­ing it op­pres­sive.

The law “would rein­tro­duce in­def­i­nite detention with­out trial or ju­di­cial re­view and vi­o­late due process rights in the name of pre­vent­ing ter­ror­ism,” Hu­man Rights Watch’s deputy Asia direc­tor Phil Robert­son said in a state­ment.

The sub­ject of se­cu­rity laws is con­tro­ver­sial in Malaysia, whose gov­ern­ment is fre­quently ac­cused of us­ing them to si­lence po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents.

A pre­vi­ous dra­co­nian in­ter­nal se­cu­rity law that al­lowed detention with­out trial — and was re­peat­edly used against op­po­si­tion politi­cians — was scrapped in 2012 amid public pres­sure for po­lit­i­cal re­form.

Last Au­gust, po­lice said they had foiled an IS-in­spired plot to bomb pubs, dis­cos and a Malaysian brew­ery of Dan­ish beer pro­ducer Carls­berg, ar­rest­ing more than a dozen peo­ple.

A string of other sus­pected IS-re­lated ar­rests have been an­nounced since then.

But the op­po­si­tion com­plains the au­thor­i­tar­ian regime has shared no de­tails of its claimed ar­rests, nor did it con­sult the op­po­si­tion on the anti-ter­ror leg­is­la­tion.

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