Ex-al-Qaeda man has not been de­rad­i­calised, will be re­leased next year, says ex­pert

New Straits Times - - FRONT PAGE -

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”.

An­drin Raj

Yazid Su­faat

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