Southeast Asia is always in need of some good news in the war against terror and this week, Malaysia provided the good news for the region.
In fact, it turned out to be Malaysia’s biggest haul in their anti-terror efforts of recent times since five years ago when the government clamped down on Kumpulan Militan Malaysia (KMM) which had links with the Jemaah Islamiah (JI). The arrest also cuts off continuing Indonesian terror influence and incursions into Malaysia.
In a highly-efficient sweep, Malaysian police arrested 12 members of the Indonesian militant group Darul Islam which is alleged to have formulated plans for attacks on other ASEAN countries. The mostly-Indonesian group included 2 Malaysians. All were captured in East Malaysia’s Sabah after a good six month’s surveillance by government agents on this group. Amongst the items confiscated in the raid were several firearms and documents including bomb-making instructions downloaded from the Internet. 11 members of those arrested are being kept at the Kamunting detention centre in Perak with two-year detention orders under the Internal Security Act.
There were hints that Sabah could be used as a platform for attacks on the Philippines. Malaysian investigators are investigating if Darul Islam has links with Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines or the al-Qaeda movement. Besides potential strikes on neighbouring countries, Sabah itself is an attractive destination for terrorists given its tourist attractions.
The arrest coincided with PM Badawi’s call to reject extremism. Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi urged the international community to put a stop to extremes, whether in the Muslim world or the West. "In my view, among the things that are urgent is to do more to restrain the extremes. The extremes dwell on both sides. The extremes that preach intolerance and hate during Friday sermons in the mosques and religious schools and the extremes that do the same in Sunday sermons in churches and on radio talks…These extremes feed upon each other and they grow fat on each other," said Abdullah Badawi.
"The moderate voice in Islam is then criticised for not doing enough," he said. Elaborating on groups calling themselves Muslim and committing acts of terror, Abdullah said all that these people had contributed was making it even harder for the Muslim world to dissociate the word `terrorism' from Islam.
M'sian police arrest 12 Muslim militants: report (AFP, 30 May 2006)
Terror group busted (AP, 30 May 2006)
PM Urges International Community To Cease Extremes (Bernama, 30 May 2006)