Threat of religious extremism during Ramadan worrying, says expert

16-Apr-2021 Intellasia | FreeMalaysiaToday | 5:02 AM Print This Post

Border controls, especially in Johor, should be tightened and monitored because of the ideological threat from religious extremist groups in Indonesia, said an anti-terrorism expert.

Citing recent events that happened in Indonesia, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) terrorism analyst Ahmad El-Muhammady Muhammad Uthman said the threat was alarming and seen to be growing, especially during Ramadan.

“Many of them (religious extremist groups) believe their reward in heaven will be greater if they carry out such attacks on the days leading up to Ramadan or even during it as it is regarded as a holy month in Islam,” he told FMT.

He said the physical attacks in Singapore and Indonesia, the bomb blast in Makassar by a married couple and the recent incident of a woman pointing a gun at several police officers at the Indonesian police headquarters were clear examples of their existence.

In the incident on March 31, the woman was shot dead by police.

Ahmad El-Muhammady said these groups need to be monitored to prevent the spread of religious extremist ideology in the country.

“The border security situation is worrying because of corruption. Although not all officers are involved, there are still a few who are easily bought, paid or threatened.

“Malaysia’s geographical location greatly facilitates cross-border actions. It might not be a problem at the police level, but this can happen at the Customs and Immigration Departments.”

He said if efforts to spread such ideologies and recruit active members were being carried out in Indonesia, it was possible that this could also happen in Malaysia.

“They (religious extremist groups) are trying to gain support by creating WhatsApp, Facebook and Telegram groups. Apart from raising funds, they are ready to move to a more radical level, which is carrying out physical attacks.”

Ahmad El-Muhammady said three potential groups that need to be taken seriously are those operated by former members of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) who still adhere to their ideology.

“Besides that, former Islamic State sympathisers and young people who do not know anything and often spend their time surfing the internet can be exposed to religious extremist narratives,” he said.

Johor’s waters are a hotspot, especially among Indonesians, for illegal entry and exit through rat lanes.

There have also been several cases involving Malaysians being recruited by religious extremist groups to go to Singapore or Indonesia using waterways on the Johor border.

In 2009, Mas Selamat Kastari, a suspected leader of the JI militant group who was arrested and taken to Singapore, managed to escape from the republic’s north coast to Johor Bahru.


Category: Malaysia

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