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Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - Malaysia

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 18 August 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - Malaysia, 18 August 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e524821c.html [accessed 20 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Overview: As a result of a combination of effective law enforcement efforts and close counterterrorism cooperation with the United States and the international community, Malaysia has not suffered a serious incident of terrorism in recent years. Malaysia has been used as a transit and planning site for terrorists, however. Royal Malaysian Police (RMP) cooperated closely with the international community on counterterrorism efforts, and RMP officers received training in a range of counterterrorism skills. The effectiveness of the police in identifying terrorist networks was limited by their continued reliance on the Internal Security Act to detain suspects on the basis of intelligence rather than on information gained through investigations. Moreover, in spite of new measures to tighten immigration requirements for some foreign citizens, the country remained vulnerable to potential terrorist activity as a result of weak border controls and gaps in maritime security in the areas bordering Thailand in Northern Malaysia and the Philippines and Indonesia in Eastern Malaysia. Persons with terrorist affiliations were able to take advantage of these weak controls to travel within Malaysia and to transit to third countries.

2010 Terrorist Incidents: In January, Malaysian police detained 10 persons reportedly involved in a plot to carry out terrorist attacks against Hindu and Buddhist religious shrines in Kuala Lumpur. In February, two Malaysians citizens were kidnapped in Sabah state, by members of the Abu Sayyaf Group terrorist organization, and taken to the Philippines to be held for ransom. The two men were subsequently rescued by Philippine armed forces in late December.

Legislation and Law Enforcement: During 2010, the Royal Malaysian Police Special Task Force-Operations/Counter-Terrorism detained 15 suspected terrorists under the Internal Security Act. Most of those detained were foreigners with connections to Jemaah Islamiya or to Jamaah Anshorut Tauhid, and were later deported to their home countries. At the end of the year, three terrorist suspects remained in detention. The recruiting activities within Malaysian universities of a number of these suspects led the Malaysian Government to more closely scrutinize foreign students and to begin publicizing its counterterrorism successes.

In general, immigration authorities' vetting of arriving travelers was perfunctory, although the Ministry of Home Affairs announced the implementation of a new biometrics system for arriving travelers beginning in December 2010. Malaysian authorities detained terrorist suspects when the authorities became aware of the suspects' presence in the country. Malaysian authorities also actively cooperated with other countries to deport suspect foreigners to their home countries.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Malaysia's central bank (Bank Negara Malaysia) has signed memoranda of understanding on the sharing of financial intelligence with the Financial Intelligence Unit of many countries in the region. Malaysia is an active member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, and its subsidiary Donors and Provider Group for Technical Assistance, and has worked with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank, the UN Counterterrorism Committee Executive Directorate, and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

Malaysia acted on UNSCRs 1267 and 1373 requests to freeze terrorist assets. While Malaysia improved the legislative framework to criminalize terrorist financing, there have been no investigations, prosecutions, or convictions related to terrorist financing under this new scheme. The Government of Malaysia continued to use the Internal Security Act as a preventive measure instead of investigating cases.

Regional and International Cooperation: The Malaysian government engaged on issues related to counterterrorism and transnational crime with its neighbors, both bilaterally and in international fora such as the ASEAN and APEC. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs operated the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Counterterrorism, which has served to facilitate the training of Malaysians officials involved in counterterrorism efforts, but has done less to identify forward-looking or regional counterterrorism priorities. The Ministry of Home Affairs announced plans to establish a Counterterrorism Training Center, focused on improving the skills of law enforcement officers, on Langkawi Island.

In September, Malaysian authorities extradited known terrorist Mas Selamat Kastari to Singapore, from where he had been imprisoned and had escaped in 2008. The RMP has a good working relationship with both regional and international law enforcement agencies.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Malaysia took the view that "extremists," at least those who have not yet committed a crime, are misguided individuals who can best be treated by rehabilitation rather than by punishment. School curricula and instruction encouraged tolerance and Malaysian authorities were quick to take action when they detected efforts to undermine social harmony. The Malaysian government monitored radical Internet web sites, but generally did not attempt to disrupt these sites, believing it can better follow radical activity by allowing such sites to operate. The government did not have a comprehensive strategic communication approach to counter-radicalization, but during the year, the RMP began to publicize the detentions of terrorist suspects, which has resulted in greater public awareness of the dangers posed by extremists and has led to an increase in public tips to the police regarding activities of extremists, according to RMP contacts.

The RMP operated a de-radicalization program for terrorist suspects in Malaysia's Kamunting Prison. The police employed clerics, family members, and former radicals to convince terrorist suspects to renounce violence. On release from detention, these persons continued to face restrictions on their activities, including curfews and limits on their travel and contacts, until they have demonstrated that they no longer have affiliations with violent extremists.

While the government touts the deradicalization program as highly successful, there were no available figures on the rates of recidivism of those who have completed it.

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