Malaysia says ISIS may shift operations to South-East Asia
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.