Malaysia says ISIS threat “very real” as video warns of attacks
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said ISIS is a “very real” threat to the country, hours after a video from the regional wing of ISIS warned of attacks in the Muslim-majority nation for arresting its supporters.
Police said the video, featuring operatives from the terror group Katibah Nusantara speaking under the ISIS logo, was significant because it was the first from ISIS in Malaysia.
“This threat is very real and my government takes it very seriously,” Najib told a conference on extremism. “This is a challenge that faces us all around the world. We are far from immune to this danger in Malaysia.”
Police said on Sunday they had arrested seven terrorists of an ISIS cell who were planning attacks across the country. The terrorists were carrying bullets, books on jihad, ISIS flags and propaganda videos.
Ten days ago, Malaysia arrested a terrorist believed to have been planning a suicide attack in Kuala Lumpur.
Three Malaysians who were trying to enter Syria to join ISIS were arrested this month, Najib said.
The video that surfaced online warned Malaysia against the crackdown on ISIS supporters and featured two Malaysians based in Syria, said Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, director of the police counter-terrorism unit.
“They threatened to carry out an attack if police did not stop the arrests and release detainees immediately,” said Ayob, adding that the video showed terrorists in the country were becoming more organized.
“Perhaps they didn’t have a direct link with ISIS before, but now they do, so they can use the ISIS logo on their videos.”
Katibah Nusantara, the terror network that released the video, is believed to be led by Bahrun Naim, who was identified as the mastermind behind the Jakarta bombings earlier this month. Indonesian police have said Naim is pulling strings from Raqqa, ISIS’s de facto capital in Syria.
“If you catch us, we will only increase in number but if you let us be, we will be closer to our goal of bringing back the rule of the Khalifah (caliph),” said a message on the video, according to Malaysian newspaper the Star.
Security experts in the region believe ISIS’s footprint is still light in Southeast Asia because terrorists are jostling to be its regional leader.