At Least 16 Known IS Fighters In Our Midst

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After almost two months, we have only rounded up less than half the IS fighters who entered our country in May 2017. What about the rest? Pic: Berita DailyAfter almost two months, we have only rounded up less than half the IS fighters who entered our country in May 2017. What about the rest? Pic: Berita Daily

On May 16, 2017, New Straits Times reported that not fewer than 30 would-be Daesh (IS) fighters who were arrested in other countries for attempting to join the terrorist group in Syria had “secretly” entered Malaysia.

These Daesh fighters were flagged as “high risk” but somehow, they managed to pass through our billion ringgit biometric and computerised immigration system.

The news report cited Bukit Aman’s Special Branch Counter-terrorism Division principal assistant director Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay as saying that “the presence of these individuals in the country posed a significant risk to national security”.

Intelligence operatives were then mobilised to trace and track these Daesh fighters.

On July 31, 2017, I asked the Home Minister in parliament to provide the status of these Daesh fighters in Malaysia.

This is the reply I received:

“Laporan akhbar tersebut telah menyentuh mengenai kehadiran lebih kurang 30 orang warga asing ke Malaysia yang disyaki dan diusir dari beberapa buah negara khususnya Turki kerana terlibat dengan aktiviti keganasan.

“Pengusiran tersebut telah dibuat tanpa mengikut prosedur kerana pihak berkuasa Malaysia seperti Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM), Jabatan Imigresen dan Wisma Putra tidak dimaklumkan terlebih dahulu dan “last port of embarkation’ mereka bukan dari Malaysia.

“Walau bagaimanapun, PDRM telah menahan seramai 14 orang dan kesemua mereka telah diusir.”

There are two very serious matters here:

Firstly, how did our Immigration let the Daesh fighters enter Malaysia in the first place?

I have raised many times inside and outside of parliament about the problems with our billion ringgit biometric and computerised immigration management system as well as insiders syndicate facilitating the flouting of immigration laws.

During the MH370 crisis, the Malaysian immigration authority was criticised for their admission of not checking visitors against Interpol database and allowing two Iranian with forged passports to pass.

Today, two months ago, the government allowed at least 30 Daesh fighters into our border!

Secondly, after almost two months, we have only rounded up less than half the Daesh fighters who entered our country in May 2017. What about the rest?

I do not know which is more frightening: that there are at least 16 known Daesh fighters in our midst or that even our authority does not know how many Daesh fighters were brought into Malaysia and their whereabouts today.

All these issues are under the jurisdiction of the Home Ministry. As such, it is clear that there is a real crisis within the Home Ministry.

It is unfortunate that the Home Minister-cum-Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi busied himself, and tragically, the agencies under his charge, to dig an old NRIC of Dr Mahathir Mohamad instead of dealing decisively and competently against the crisis facing his ministry.

Steven Sim is the MP for Bukit Mertajam.

- Berita Daily