KUALA LUMPUR: A soft approach by the Special Branch has succeeded in keeping 352 individuals from turning into full-fledged terrorists since 2001.
Apart from de-radicalising would-be militants, the Special Branch counter-terrorism division (CTD) also works behind the scenes, sniffing out sympathisers before subtly engaging them and enlisting them in its rehabilitation programme.
Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Bador (pix), who commended the CTD for its success, said the police have a two-pronged approach.
“One way is to take on the militants directly and have them face the full brunt of the law while the other is psy-warfare, where we engage them for rehabilitation. They are put through counselling by religious and psychological experts who enlighten them on how they have been misled and subsequently guide them on the right path of Islam. We gauge the level of their involvement in militancy. If they have not ‘crossed the line’, we use this method. It is a costly affair but it has to be done. This approach has been quietly done behind the scenes,” he said during an exclusive interview with theSun.
Abdul Hamid added that often, when such terror cell members were identified and approached, police rope in their families to assist in the programme. He said the families have contributed immensely to its success.
Federal Special Branch deputy director and CTD head DCP Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay told theSun that from 2001 to 2012, a total of 239 would-be militants, mainly from the Southeast Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, were enlisted by police into the rehabilitation programme while from 2013 onwards, 113 from the Islamic State group were engaged.
“Out of the total, only 10 failed. We managed to de-radicalise over 97% of them and have them move away from extremism. Many countries have approached us to learn and adopt our programme,” he said.
“Once rehabilitated, we arrange to get them jobs and they become our friends. We constantly keep in touch and monitor them to make sure they do not return to their old ways.”
Ayob said there are no longer large militant cells in Malaysia.
He said those that exist now were “lone wolves” and “wolf packs” of five or six members.