Kuala Lumpur – A Malaysian deputy minister’s remarks that the authorities had detected a new militant group that was similar to the Al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah (JI) caused quite a stir among the local and foreign media. But some 24 hours later, Deputy Internal Security Minister Noh Omar clarified that he was only referring to a sect spreading “deviant teachings” of Islam.
Mr Noh said the sect was non-militant and had no connection with two militant groups - the JI and the Malaysian Militant Group (KMM) - whose network of cells had been broken up by the government.
Malaysian newspapers on May 23 had quoted Mr Noh as saying that the Internal Security Ministry had identified a new group that resembled the JI and KMM was active in the country.
“What I said (to reporters) was that a group was being investigated and whether it was necessary to act against it by using the Internal Security Act (ISA). The group is a sect and not militant, and it has no connection with the KMM or JI," Mr Noh told Bernama.
The Deputy Minister said he had to issue the clarification after he was shocked to see newspaper headlines reporting the emergence of a new militant group inMalaysia. He also received many calls from various parties, including the foreign media, who wanted him to elaborate on his May 22 statement.
In the past five years, the Malaysian government has been active in dismantling JI cells and the KMM network across the country. The KMM has been accused of plotting to overthrow the government by violent means. Malaysia is currently holding more than 90 alleged Muslim militants under the ISA.
* Noh says group under investigation a sect and not militant (Bernama, May 23)*
* Government identifies militant group operating in the country (The Star, May 23)
* Active militant group similar to KMM, JI, detected (Utusan Malaysia, May 23)