M'sia views seriously IS threat in South Philippines, says Hishammuddin

17 Oct 2014 / 01:57 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia views seriously the ideological infiltration of the militant group of Islamic State (IS) in south Philippines as a threat to national security.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said this, following an open declaration of support by several militant groups in south Philippines such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Abu Sayyaf group and the Moro National Liberation Front.
"Even though the threat is still at a low level, the security forces do not view it lightly and will seriously monitor and take the necessary action to ensure the ideology founded by the IS supporters does not spread to this country," he said in a question-and-answer session at the Dewan Rakyat sitting here today.
Replying to a supplementary question from Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan), Hishammuddin said increase in defence and security assets in Sabah, especially the Eastern Sabah Security Command, was a pro-active move by the government to curtail the IS threat.
He said various measures to improve defence assets in Sabah had been and would be taken for this purpose.
This included extending the airport runway in Lahad Datu to accommodate landings by the military aircraft C-130, improving the air force base in Labuan for the Hawk fighter jet and acquiring high-capability control radar.
Hishammuddin said the government had also built two Forward Operational Bases in the form of sea bases – intended to fight off threats, especially at sea exit points – but also functioning as command centres, intercepting and blocking routes, surveillance, inspection points and enforcement for control.
The Sea Basing concept also provides a static and mobile platform location which extends the reach and response time of the security forces.
The Forward Operational Bases are expected to be fully operational by April next year.
Speaking to reporters later, Hishammuddin said the government was monitoring the United States-led airstrike on IS to learn how they handled the threat.
"The threat is something new, that's why it is quite difficult even for President (Barack) Obama to find out how to deal with the IS at the moment.
"But, we have an advantage of looking at it, to see how it is developed, whether it is effective and try to relate that to our situation here in Malaysia," he said.
He added the government was also strengthening cooperation with neighbouring countries, especially the Philippines, Indonesia and Brunei, and taking other proactive measures before looking at the possibility of engaging groups which were not easily identifiable.
Asked whether the 39 Malaysians identified as having links with militant groups, including the IS, could pose a threat to the country, he believed that they were not targeting Malaysia.
"I don't see them targeting us. They are Malaysians and they travel to Syria to support IS ... but I don't think they have intention to target Malaysia," he said. – Bernama


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