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Top anti-terror cop says IS plans in East Asia impossible

Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay says police have been actively monitoring discussion groups on Whatsapp and Telegram for possible IS-related propaganda.

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KUALA LUMPUR: The Islamic State’s (IS) plans to establish a “wilayah” (territory) comprising Malaysia and six other Asian countries will remain a distant dream for the militant group, says Malaysia’s top anti-terrorism officer Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay.

He said authorities had been actively monitoring the group’s sympathisers including their communication channels on social media.

Ayob, the principal assistant director at the Special Branch’s counter-terrorism division in Bukit Aman, said the police’s monitoring of IS-related activities was meticulous, including staying alert for possible spread of terror propaganda on apps such as Whatsapp and Telegram.

“It’ll be impossible for IS to establish a ‘territory’. As it is, police are nabbing those who keep IS material or spread messages on Whatsapp, and charging them in court,” Ayob told FMT.

Singapore’s The Straits Times (ST) yesterday quoted several terrorism analysts who cited social media chatter from IS sympathisers about plans to include Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar and Japan as part of an “East Asian wilayah”.

This comes as the terror group retreats from their strongholds in the Middle East including from Mosul, Iraq, one of the cities where the IS leadership had made their home for some three years.

Experts have warned that such plans may have created a new East Asian flashpoint in the global fight against terror.

Malaysia has so far charged more than 120 terror suspects and sympathisers in court, with about half of them being convicted.

Some 40 militants or IS sympathisers are also detained under the Prevention of Crime Act, while 18 others detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Ayob said police were aware of the revelation about a plan for a “territory” in this region.

He said similar intelligence had been obtained in the wake of the arrests of several Indonesians in Perak on June 13.

He said plans for a “territory” were discussed using Whatsapp and Telegram discussion groups.

“Some of those in the groups are IS sympathisers from Indonesia, the Philippines, Turkey and Malaysia.

“They have this ambitious plan of establishing a territory in this region,” he said.

He said Jemaah Islamiyah, a regional group with links to Al Qaeda, also had similar plans for a “pan-Islamic state”.

Free Malaysia Today

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