Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 16 December 2019

Malaysia says ISIS may shift operations to South-East Asia

Authorities in region have said it will be a long battle to thwart the extremists' ideology

A view of the city skyline in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, October 23, 2019. Reuters
A view of the city skyline in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, October 23, 2019. Reuters

A Malaysian minister warned on Wednesday that ISIS might shift its base of operations to South-East Asia after the death of its leader.

Authorities in the region have said it will be a long battle to thwart the 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 lone-wolf attacks, Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said.

Mr Muhyiddin was addressing 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," he said, according to Malaysian news agency Bernama.

"After losing much of its territory in Syria and Iraq, Daesh is also looking for a new base."

Mr Muhyiddin, whose ministry oversees the police force, said Malaysia had foiled 25 planned attacks by ISIS and arrested 512 people with suspected links to the group over the past six years.

The country has been on high alert since January 2016, when gunmen allied with ISIS carried out attacks in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

ISIS also claimed responsibility for a grenade attack on a bar in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur in June 2016, in which eight people were wounded.

It was the first such attack on Malaysian soil.

Updated: November 28, 2019 02:39 AM

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