The grenade attack in Puchong on June 28, which has since been linked to Islamic State militants, has changed the security landscape in Malaysia. Until last week, Malaysians had believed such an attack would not happen in this country.
For the security and intelligence forces, this attack was a surprise, as the choice was not in the city centre or crowded places frequented by foreigners.
It looks like IS has officially declared war on Malaysia and the intelligence and security forces can expect a future wave of attacks here. The Movida Kitchen, Bar and Club Lounge in Puchong was a target of convenience that involved less effort and risks compared to high security areas like KLCC, Bukit Bintang or Putrajaya.
The good work of the Special Branch (Counter Terrorism Division, E8) needs to be commended, as they were able to quickly identify the suspected terrorists involved in the Puchong attack. The best way to curb terrorists in Malaysia is to pay attention to local followers.
As reported in the media, most of the IS sympathisers here are people who were once involved in crime or immoral activities and want to purge themselves of their sins by committing such notorious acts in the name of religion. It is their way of seeking redemption, not knowing that the IS’ interpretation of jihad is flawed.
It will be very challenging, almost impossible, for the police to provide security everywhere especially outside Kuala Lumpur. Thus, Malaysians from all walks of life, from families to institutions of higher learning and NGOs to government departments, have to work together to safeguard our nation. Meanwhile, intelligence on the ground needs to be intensified. Constant monitoring of social media like Facebook is vital because it is a major tool of recruitment for the IS. IS-linked attacks in Dhaka, Istanbul, Baghdad and Puchong have been seen as a shift in its strategy to attack Muslim states.
Terrorism expert Ahmad El-Muhammady said Malaysia was mentioned twice in the 11th issue of IS’ monthly online magazine, Dabiq. The first was about this country’s stance on IS and the other on its suggestion that militants target diplomatic
missions in Malaysia.
Director, Institute of Crime & Criminology, HELP University