May 02, 2013
Malaysia has been relatively unscathed by terrorism, compared to some of its neighbours. But the country cannot afford to become complacent, local people told Khabar Southeast Asia.
"We need to be vigilant; the terrorist networks may be larger than what we ever thought. They are not working alone," said Nurhaliza Ahmad, a student in Kuala Lumpur. "Umar Patek, an Indonesian terrorist who was captured in Abbottabad, Pakistan, is a good example that terrorists are working globally," she said. "Therefore, we need to combat them globally."
Patek was sentenced to 20 years in prison in June 2012 for his role in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people and injured another 240. After the bombings, Patek fled to the southern Philippines, where he joined the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Another example of cross-border terrorism is Malaysian-born Noordin M. Top, who became Indonesia's most wanted terrorist in 2009.
He was allegedly involved in several bomb attacks in Indonesia including the bombing of the Marriot Hotel in Jakarta in 2003, the Australian Embassy bombing in Jakarta in 2004, the Bali bombing in 2005 and the Jakarta Ritz-Carlton bombing in 2009. He was killed by Indonesian security forces in September 2009.
Meanwhile, Malaysian-born engineer Zulkifli Abdul Khir, alleged head of the Kumpulan Mujahidin Malaysia (KMM), is wanted in connection with terror incidents in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. He is believed to be hiding in the Southern Philippines.
Nur Suraya, a 32-year-old Malaysian woman, is concerned about the secrecy in which extremist cells operate, and security in the lead-up to Malaysia's general elections on May 5th.
"Terrorism in Malaysia is something hidden for me. Their silent movement makes me worried that they can execute any harmful agenda," she told Khabar. "I just hope there will be no terrorism plan executed in this country, especially with our upcoming general election. My hope is also the future leaders who win the election will put more efforts to make Malaysia free from terrorism."
The Malaysian government has taken a number of measures designed both to combat the threat at home, and to foster international co-operation in tackling the issue. In December, Indonesia and Malaysia discussed holding a large-scale joint counter-terrorism exercise this year.
In April, Malaysia conveyed its support for finalizing the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism being elaborated in the United Nations (UN).
Hussein Haniff, its ambassador at the UN, said the draft would be a useful tool in the prevention and suppression of international terrorism, and a framework for co-operation and co-ordination among UN member states.
"The legal framework will also fill the gaps in the existing sectorial conventions and enhance efforts to bring perpetrators to justice," he told the Ad Hoc Committee on the matter at UN headquarters in New York, on April 8th, according to the New Straits Times.
For Ahmad, the Kuala Lumpur student, the key to tackling the problem lies in educating people – in particular about the correct teachings of Islam.
"Religion is our faith. No matter what religion you have, you will feel peace and love if you practice it correctly. In Islam, 'jihad' means to work hard for the good deed. Terrorism is not a good deed, and that is not what Islam is teaching," she said.