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Country Reports on Terrorism 2011 - Malaysia

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 31 July 2012
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2011 - Malaysia, 31 July 2012, available at: [accessed 20 November 2017]
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: Malaysia's counterterrorism cooperation with the United States has improved in recent years and it was an important counterterrorism partner in 2011. Malaysia has not suffered a serious incident of terrorism for several years, but was vulnerable to terrorist activity and continued to be used as a transit and planning site for terrorists. In spite of new measures to improve border security, weak border controls persisted in the area contiguous with Thailand in northern Malaysia, and there were gaps in maritime security in the tri-border area of the southern Philippines, Indonesia, and the Malaysian state of Sabah. Royal Malaysian Police (RMP) cooperated closely with the international community on counterterrorism efforts, and RMP and other law enforcement officers participated in capacity building training programs.

Legislation and Law Enforcement: On September 15, Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib announced that his government would seek the repeal of the Internal Security Act (ISA) and Emergency Ordinances under which Malaysia has routinely detained suspected terrorists and others without formal judicial proceedings for renewable two-year terms. By year's end, the Emergency Ordinances had been revoked. The ISA was still used, but new legislation to replace it was being drafted.

To address concerns surrounding insufficient visa and immigration controls, Malaysia began implementing a biometrics system in June that records the fingerprints of the right and left hand index fingers at all ports of entry. The National Foreigners Enforcement and Registration System were linked to the police's existing Biometric Fingerprint Identification System. There were occasional glitches, but according to police, the new biometric system was successful overall and was instrumental in the detention of an Indonesian Jemaah Islamiya (JI) operative just days after the system was introduced. The country also began a massive effort to register foreign workers, many of whom were undocumented. This involved the biometric registration of more than 2.3 million foreign workers and undocumented immigrants in an overall effort to gain better understanding and management of the country's foreign residents.

Arrests: The following arrests under the ISA took place:

  • On January 4, police arrested and detained Mohamad Radzali Kassan, a Malaysian, for being an alleged JI operative.

  • On June 6, police arrested Agus Salim, an Indonesian, for being an operative of JI. Agus had been arrested and deported to Indonesia in 2009, but re-entered Malaysia in 2010 under a false name. He was detected through the new biometric National Foreigners Enforcement and Registration System.

  • On June 8, police arrested and detained Abdul Haris bin Syuhadi, an Indonesian, for recruiting for JI.

  • In an operation conducted from November 14 to 16, police arrested and detained 13 people – seven Malaysians, five Indonesians, and one Filipino – in eastern Sabah. The 13 were allegedly involved in the smuggling of weapons between the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia to support terrorist activities.

Malaysia continued to participate in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program.

Countering Terrorist Financing: Malaysia is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. Malaysia improved the legislative framework to criminalize terrorist financing by passing the Money Service Business Act of 2011 (MSBA), which replaced three older pieces of legislation. On December 1, the MSBA was implemented to regulate licensed moneychangers, non-bank remittance service providers, and the wholesale currency business under Malaysia's Central Bank, and to increase monitoring and control of the cross-border flow of illegal funds. In 2011, Malaysia initiated eight new terrorist finance investigations. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Regional and International Cooperation: Malaysia actively participated in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Malaysian law enforcement officials routinely met with regional counterparts to discuss counterterrorism issues at meetings such as the Heads of Asian Coast Guards meeting in Hanoi in October. In May, Malaysia's Police Chief Inspector General traveled to Jakarta to discuss coordinating counterterrorism efforts with the Indonesian National Police. Malaysia's Assistant Commissioner of the RMP also served as head of the ASEAN Chiefs of National Police, which agreed in June to cooperate with the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate to assist ASEAN member states in their implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1624/1989, 1988, and 1373.

In May, Malaysia's Southeast Asia Regional Center for Counterterrorism, under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, organized with the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund and the ASEAN Secretariat, a seminar on the Dynamics of Youth and Terrorism that included numerous ASEAN participants. In October, Malaysia collaborated with the Government of France to organize and host a three-day seminar on money laundering and terrorist finance attended by participants from Brunei, Cambodia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and East Timor.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The RMP and the Department of Islamic Development operated a disengagement program for terrorist suspects in Malaysia's Kamunting Prison. The program involved religious and social counseling and vocational training. It employed psychologists as well as religious scholars, police officers, and family members. A committee evaluated detainees' progress toward eligibility for release from prison. The committee's reports were reviewed by a panel from the detention center and also by the Home Ministry. Upon release, former inmates were visited by parole officers and continued to face restrictions on their activities, including curfews and limits on their travel and contacts. While the government portrayed the disengagement program as highly successful, it lacked demonstrable metrics for its effectiveness.

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