KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia being categorised as a transit point for terror groups is due to its visa waiver programme for foreign nationals, particularly those from middle eastern and some African nations.
Federal police Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division (E8) principal assistant director Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said: “Hence, this made Malaysia their first choice (as a transit point for foreign terrorist fighters),” he said.
The Country Reports on Terrorism 2018 released by the United States on Nov 1 reported that terror groups had made Malaysia their “transit point”.
“This is nothing new. In fact, such report (suggesting that Malaysia was a transit point for terror groups) had surfaced since the 1980s,” said Ayob.
“As stated by Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, we acknowledge the matter.
“And, the police did not rest on our laurel. We have initiated the necessary actions.
“Since 2013, we have arrested 38 foreign terrorist fighters,” he said after attending the International Conference on Financial Crime and Terrorism Financing here today.
“Some of them (foreign terror fighters) have been prosecuted in the country and some of them have been sent back,” he said.
Since 2013, Ayob said police had foiled 25 attempts by terror groups to launch attacks.
“A total of 14 attempts were still in phase one, which is in the process of discussion.
“The remaining attempts had entered the second phase, in which, the groups had begun sourcing weapons supply.” He also police were working with Bank Negara Malaysia, banks and the private sector to combat terror financing and money laundering activities.
The close cooperation, he said, had helped police to open 22 investigation papers (IPs) since 2016.
“From the total IPs opened, 19 suspects have been prosecuted and convicted in Court.
“Suspects involving three investigation papers are still being tried in Court.” Responding to reports that some countries had delisted Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a terror group, Ayob said Malaysia was a sovereign nation and had its own legislation when it came to dealing with terror groups such as the LTTE.
He said the country’s sovereignty included the right to draw up its own list of terror groups.
“Malaysia is a sovereign country. Whatever we do, we adhere and follow stringent standards operation procedures.
“The country has its own laws and we have our own list (of terror groups). We cannot follow other countries.
“For example, we cannot use the list (of terror groups) by the US as our reference.
“If the US want to delist LTTE from their list, then it is up to them.
“There are other countries which include LTTE in their list,” he said.