Malaysia says ISIS may shift op­er­a­tions to South-East Asia

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A Malaysian min­is­ter said yes­ter­day that ISIS may shift its base of op­er­a­tions to South-East Asia af­ter the death of the group’s leader.

Au­thor­i­ties in the re­gion said it will be a long bat­tle to thwart the mil­i­tant group’s ide­ol­ogy, even af­ter ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Bagh­dadi killed him­self by det­o­nat­ing a sui­cide vest dur­ing a raid by US spe­cial forces in north-west Syria in Oc­to­ber.

Malaysia will re­main on guard against threats posed by fight­ers re­turn­ing from abroad, on­line rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion and pos­si­ble lone-wolf at­tacks, Home Min­is­ter Muhyid­din Yassin said at a meet­ing of min­is­ters from the As­so­ci­a­tion of South-East Asian Na­tions in Bangkok.

“We be­lieve that Al Bagh­dadi’s death will open up an­other chap­ter in Daesh’s ter­ror oper­a­tion. Af­ter los­ing much of its ter­ri­tory in Syria and Iraq, Daesh is also look­ing for a new base,” Mr Muhyid­din said, re­ported Malaysian news agency Ber­nama.

Mr Muhyid­din, whose min­istry over­sees the po­lice force, said Malaysia had foiled 25 at­tacks by ISIS in the coun­try and ar­rested 512 peo­ple with sus­pected links to the group over the past six years.

Malaysia has been on high alert since Jan­uary 2016, when gun­men al­lied with ISIS car­ried out a se­ries of at­tacks in the In­done­sian cap­i­tal, Jakarta.

ISIS also claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for a grenade at­tack on a bar on the out­skirts of Kuala Lumpur in June 2016 in which eight peo­ple were wounded.

It was the first such strike on Malaysian soil.

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