KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said yesterday at a conference on national security and the threat of ISIS in Kuala Lumpur, that there are an estimated 50,000 Islamic State (ISIS) sympathizers in Malaysia.
Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the influence of ISIS among Malaysians is a real threat that cannot be ignored.
“If only 1 per cent turn radical and if they attack any part of Malaysia we will be in trouble,” he cautioned.
According to a report released this month by New York-based security consulting firm The Soufan Group, about 100 Malaysian citizens are estimated to have traveled to join ISIS in Syria.
More than 100 suspected militants have been detained, the Malaysian police have said.
Associate Professor Sundramoorthy, from Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Research Team on Crime and Policing, said some of the suspected militants have gone beyond the scope of religion.
Many think ISIS champions the rights of Islam but it has got to do with social injustice, economic inequalities, political suppression and other reasons. But unfortunately, religion has been used as an anchor to all these motivations, he said.
Earlier this year, Malaysian police foiled an ISIS terror plot to attack the Saudi Arabia and Qatar embassies in Kuala Lumpur.
They also arrested and deported five Maldives residents, including a suspect believed to be involved in an assassination attempt on Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen.
In September, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that his country will set up a messaging center to counter the terrorists’ narrative of Islam, and will also use social media and other messaging tools.