KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 – The government yesterday announced that it will amend and beef up existing security laws, as well as table a new one to combat the threat of militancy and terrorism posed by the Islamic State (IS) group.
Presenting a White Paper on the subject on the penultimate day of Parliament sitting yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the emergence of Malaysians becoming suicide bombers had underscored the threat posed by such groups. Malaysia, he pledged, would do everything in its power to prevent citizens influenced by deviant ideologies from taking up arms in foreign lands.
Citing the first case of Ahmad Tarmimi Maliki, 26, who became Malaysia’s first suicide bomber when he killed 25 elite Iraqi military officers in Anbar, the prime minister said it was tragic that in an age when most people took care of their families, Tarmimi had wasted his life by acting against Islamic teachings. “I fear that these numbers will increase as 39 Malaysians have been identified in Syria now and 40 others would have met the same fate if the authorities did not arrest them.”
He also cited four other Malaysians who were killed fighting in Syria this year. The prime minister said the new law would enable the government to deal with the spread of IS’ terror activities effectively. This, he said, was in accordance with the move by other countries which had introduced and refined their anti-terrorism laws as a prime move to address the threat of terrorism.
The White Paper, titled “Addressing the Islamic State Threat”, also contained a proposal to strengthen existing security laws, such as the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), Prevention of Crime Act (Poca) and Penal Code, to counter threats by terrorists. Najib said the government was concerned that Malaysians returning from Syria and Iraq could threaten national security.
He said armed with military expertise and bomb-making skills, they could act as lone wolves and potentially launch attacks at any time, causing loss of lives and massive destruction of public property. Najib said the government was concerned that these individuals could reactivate terrorist cells and form a network with existing militant groups in the country and the region, such as the Abu Sayyaf in Mindanao, the Philippines.
Najib said the White Paper aimed to expose the real face of IS, which used Islam as a front to achieve its aim to establish a caliphate. “The IS ideology, based on extremism and terrorism, runs contrary to the belief of those who subscribe to the Sunnah Wal Jamaah because it misinterpreted the concept of jihad.” He said IS also exploited the concept of hijrah, branding Muslims not aligned with it as infidels, committed atrocities against women and children, as well as condemning to death individuals without a right to defence.
He said Malaysia had taken a clear stand on IS and its activities. Apart from listing IS as a terrorist organisation, the National Fatwa Council’s 106th Muzakarah had also concluded that the participation of Muslims in IS activities in Iraq and Syria was contrary to Islamic law, and their deaths could not be categorised as martyrdom.
Najib said as a country that introduced the wasatiyyah (moderation) concept, Malaysia had a responsibility to expose IS’ extreme ideology as contrary to Islamic teachings and the Federal Constitution. “Malaysia will intensify efforts to explain the true meaning of jihad and correct the Western perception of often associating Islam with terrorism,” he said, adding that Malaysia would continue to work with the international community to address the threats of radicalism, extremism, terrorism and militancy.
Najib noted that the laws by themselves would be insufficient to curb the spread of IS’ ideology and urged Malaysians to reject them. “We are at a crossroads where we have to strive harder to protect religion, race and the nation.” The prime minister tabled the bill at 11.30am and it was seconded by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. Six members of parliament, three each from the Barisan Nasional and three from the opposition, debated the motion.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who conducted the winding-up at the end of the debate, said the new law would stress on prevention, in addition to eradication (of the threat). “I want to give an assurance that the government will not follow the laws of other nations in creating an anti-terrorism act, although in reality, six nations have drawn up such an act.
“To safeguard the nation’s security, we must bring back detention without trial. Although today we have Sosma and Poca, they are inadequate to overcome terrorism.” Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia then approved the motion after receiving more ayes than nays.