TERROR SUSPECT YAZID SUFAT, WHO WILL BE RELEASED SOON, ‘STILL RADICALISED’
Ex-al-Qaeda man has not been deradicalised, will be released next year, says expert
AN international antiterrorism group has cautioned Malaysia of serious existential terror threats, when one of its own is released from prison next year.
Their concern involves former al-Qaeda operative Yazid Sufaat, now serving his final months in prison.
The International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals — Centre for Security Studies, Southeast Asia Regional Centre (IACSP), said it had been monitoring Yazid’s progress behind bars and concluded that he had not been deradicalised.
“We found that the (Muslim) clerics and experts assigned to him were never able to deradicalise him.
“In fact, we have come to learn that one of them is Yazid’s close friend and confidant.
“He holds strongly to the ideologies that he has been subscribing to,” said IACSP Southeast Asia regional director and IACSP Nordic Region adviser Andrin Raj.
He said it was crucial that the authorities, in dealing with the radicalised, revisit the “textbook” used in de-radicalisation.
This, he said, was because the formulas used to arrest threats between the 1960s and 1990s were not entirely suited for present-day scenarios.
On threats that Yazid could pose, Andrin said the former army captain, who once allegedly led al-Qaeda’s efforts to produce weapons of mass destruction in Afghanistan, could pick up where he left off.
“The threat of terror remains very real, as evident in the recent arrest of several former al-Qaeda members in Malaysia as well as those supportive of the Islamic State.
“Among the chief concerns of the global community that is striving to keep terror threats at bay is that the radicalised, with such a background, recruit new players or carry out acts of terrorism.”
He said he agreed with Federal Police Special Branch CounterTerrorism Division principal assistant director Datuk Ayob Khan, who had said Yazid remained a security risk.
This, they both said, was telling from the fact that the 54-year-old had been involved in terrorismrelated activities after his release from detention under the Internal Security Act, where he embarked on a recruitment drive among prisoners at Tapah Prison.
This was in 2013, when he was arrested under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act and was imprisoned there for four years.
According to Bukit Aman, the Tapah Prison recruitment was intended to supply the IS in Syria with fighters from Malaysia.
Last year, he was rearrested and detained for two years, after his recruitment drive during his incarceration was discovered.
Yazid, before that, was detained for eight years under the now-defunct Internal Security Act between 2002 and 2010.
Andrin said an interview conducted with a former comrade of Yazid’s revealed that those involved in trying to “turn him around” had admitted to failing to understand the “religious text that he subscribes to”.