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Militancy on rise in Malaysian college-university campuses

Kuala Lumpur, Islamic State, Malaysia, Inter Service Intelligence, ISI, Muslim, Philippines

Counterterrorism

Militancy on rise in Malaysian college-university campuses

Thousands of students from the Asian-African nations in particular are getting admitted into Malaysian college and universities every year for getting higher education, without knowing – majority of those institutions have long turned into breeding grounds of radical Islamic jihadists. Amongst counterterrorism experts in Asia, Malaysia’s Monash University although is red-flagged as incubator of jihadists, available statistics say – this has been happening in almost all of the college and universities in Malaysia, especially those with foreign students. Muslim students from India, who are getting admitted into Malaysia educational institutions are mostly targeted and recruited by Pakistani spy agency Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) and on completion of their education – they return home with notoriously radicalized mindset. Extreme religious hatred is planted into their mindset, thus turning them into mere monsters as well as lone wolves.

Terrorism is a major issue in the 21st century. The tragedy of September 11 (9/11), 2001 changed the world’s view on terrorist threats. The disaster also had far-reaching implications for future security. The attacks on the New York World Trade Center (NYWTC) that day caused suffering Americans had not previously experienced. September 11 re-created the term “terrorist”, which is widely used today. 2 People remain fearful they might become the victim of a terrorist. Many Muslims living in the West have experienced an increase in aggressive Islamophobia3 in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and many have suffered humiliation or worse, as the result of orders for heightened security. 4 Muslims around the world have cringed at the way in which Islam and Muslims are so often depicted by Western media. It is understandable that many Muslims question the appropriateness of expressions such as “Islamic Terrorism” and “Islamic Radicalism”.

Nevertheless, the fact that many terrorists and militant extremists such as Abu Dujana, Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, Osama bin Laden, Ayman Zawahiri and many more see themselves as acting in the interests of Islam cannot be denied. There needs to be a way to talk about these issues rationally and without emotional bias, to reach a solution.

The 9/11 tragedy changed the political and social climate of the Muslim world including Malaysia. Since then, Malaysia has faced activists who fight with hidden agendas. Between the 1960s and 2001, Malaysia has recorded 13 activism cum militant6 groups including, Tentera Sabiullah (1967), Golongan Rohaniah (1971), Koperasi Angkatan Revolusi Islam Malaysia (1972), Kumpulan Mohd Nasir Ismail (1980), Kumpulan Revolusi Islam Ibrahim Mahmud aka Ibrahim Libya (1985), Kumpulan Jundullah (1987), Kumpulan Mujahidin Kedah (1988), Kumpulan Perjuangan Islam Perak (1998), al-Maunah (2000), Kumpulan Militan Malaysia (2001), Darul Islam Sabah (2003) and Jemaah Islamiyah (2001).

From research, it is clear KMM has had a direct link with violence, especially in Malaysia. This problem worsened when KMM and JI built a relationship with the man most wanted by the CIA: Hambali aka Riduan Isamuddin. KMM and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) were involved in the bombings and attacks in Indonesia and Malaysia. 8 As the war on terrorism continues, the spotlight has increasingly fallen on the governments of Southeast Asia and their hunt for Islamic militants within their own territorial boundaries. Malaysia has stood out for specific scrutiny in this regard.

Malaysia – terrorists and terrorism

Back in May 2018, Malaysian police has detained 15 suspected Islamist militants including a teenager and a housewife accused of plotting separate lone wolf attacks on places of worship around the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

“The suspect had surveyed and filmed the target locations, as well as recorded a video warning of the impending attacks,” Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun said, adding that the video was uploaded to four Islamic State-linked mobile chat-rooms shortly before the suspect was arrested.

Another detained suspect was a 51-year-old housewife who was arrested on May 9, the day Malaysia held a general election, police said. The woman was suspected of planning to drive a car into non-Muslim voters at a polling center on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

“The suspect had also planned to crash into non-Muslim houses of worship using a car fitted with a gas tank to be used as an explosive,” Mohamad Fuzi said.

Among the others detained was a Bangladeshi restaurant owner suspected of smuggling arms to foreign militants, as well as six Philippine nationals aiming to join Islamic State-linked gunmen
who occupied a Philippine town in 2017.

A North African married couple, wanted for being Islamic State members in their home country, was detained before being deported on April 14, Mohamad Fuzi said. He did not give their nationality.

Since hundreds of students from Bangladesh are getting admitted into Malaysian college and universities, it is essential for the law enforcement agencies to monitor activities of those students whenever they return to the country, as they may pose grave threat to national security.

Pakistani ISI’s recruitment of Indian students

Back in 2019, an Indian national named Nazir Ahmad Bhat, a resident of Jammu and Kashmir, confessed to headhunting for the ISI, during an interview with India Today.

His revelations came during a series of meetings India Today’s Special Investigation Team held with him in Delhi.

Bhat elaborated upon what appeared to be an extensive recruitment process involving one-on-one interviews with Pakistani brigadiers and majors stationed in Pakistani missions across several countries, including India.

“Do you have links in the ISI?” asked India Today’s undercover reporter.

“Yes, I do,” Bhat replied. “In Kashmir, for instance, I say Salaam Alaikum to both the separatists and the mainstream (leaders).”

Bhat disclosed the he contacts his handlers across the border via satellite phones.

“Whenever I have to call, I use my satellite phone,” he said. “And when I cross over, I meet up with them, whether it is Islamabad or Rawalpindi or in PoK [Pakistan occupied Kashmir].”

His handlers would accord him a warm welcome in Pakistan in exchange for information about India, Bhat said.

He revealed that the ISI’s recruitment process is directly supervised by senior Pakistani military officers.

“I have done ISI recruitments myself,” he said. “They have spread their net far and wide.”

“Are you in touch with the main recruiter in Pakistan?” the reporter asked.

“Yes. That’s why I told you I’d confirm with him (about your appointment),” answered Bhat.

The ISI recruiter identified a Pakistani major as one of the main handlers for the ISI’s India operations.

“What is his name?” probed the reporter.

“Major Abdullah,” Bhat replied.

The rookies, he added, are introduced with the higher-ups in the ISI at different locations — from Kathmandu, Dubai, Sri Lanka to Male.

“Who all will come to meet with the new recruits?” the reporter asked.

“They will come themselves… people of the brigadier level,” Bhat said.

Some of the fresh recruits are taken to Islamabad via Dubai on bogus Pakistani passports and some to the Pakistani embassy in Kathmandu, he explained.

“Passports will not be an issue. We’ll go there on Pakistani passports. They’ll be readied in one day. That (Pakistani) passport will be left there (in Dubai) itself. You return to India on the Indian passport. Your Indian passport should have no Pakistani stamps. Else, it will be a problem,” Bhat added. “I’d get all this done.”

Meetings can also be held with ISI superiors at the Pakistani embassy in Kathmandu, according to the recruiter.

If Bhat is to be believed, similar interactions take place with Pakistani diplomats at popular dargahs in Delhi.

“Delhi is the best place,” he remarked. “We’ll get the second-in-command to the ambassador (High Commissioner for the meetings)). Either it will be a deputy or a military attaché, whoever is available,” he claimed. “Basically, he’s the main person, the guiding force”.

An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counter-terrorism specialist, and editor of Blitz. Follow his on Twitter Salah_Shoaib

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