KUALA LUMPUR – Some 519 people were held by Malaysian police as of 31 July on suspicion of terrorism, both Malaysian and foreigners, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said today without giving a precise breakdown of the figure.
The minister spoke at a press conference on the side-lines of an International Seminar on Religious Values in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE). He had earlier opened the seminar.
“We will refer to several guidelines set by international bodies to ensure uniformity and we want to gain from past experience,” he said as he announced that the government was drafting a National Action Plan (NAP) against extremism.
“The government is in discussion and has not made any decision (on the implementation) because it involves various agencies, not just the KDN (Home Ministry),” he explained. “The resolutions of this PCVE seminar may be of help in preparing it (NAP).”
In May, Malaysian police said they detained the three remaining suspects of an Islamic State “wolf pack” believed to have been planning big-scale attacks against Buddhist, Hindu and churches as well as assassinations of high-profile figures in the capital.
Later that month, the authorities announced they had arrested three more terror suspects. One of them was seized at Kuala Lumpur International Airport as he was leaving for Egypt with plans to ultimately head to Syria.
In his press briefing, the minister today also said that a Malaysian family detained in Syria for terrorism had asked to come home. “One family of three (parents and their child) has applied to return,” he noted.
Last May, the police announced that 39 of 65 Malaysians detained in Syria on suspicion of terrorism had contacted them to express their desire to come home.
Whilst countries like the United States and the United Kingdom refuse to take back their citizens who left for the Middle East to join the Islamic State group, Malaysia tentatively accepts them on condition they undergo a month-long rehabilitation and de-radicalisation programme.