The police have thwarted 25 planned terrorist attacks in the country since 2013, including several large-scale strikes on Christian, Hindu and Buddhist houses of worship and entertainment outlets in the Klang Valley.
Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, principal assistant director of the Counter-Terrorism Division (E8) of the Special Branch in Bukit Aman, said they arrested 74 people for various offences linked to terrorism, including planning terrorist attacks and raising funds for the attacks.
One of the planned large-scale attacks was to have been carried out by the Islamic State (IS) Wolf Pack at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in USJ Subang Jaya, Ayob Khan told Bernama.
He said the police foiled the planned terrorist attacks based on police intelligence and information shared by various quarters.
“We were able to thwart these IS strike attempts since 2013 because we have sound laws,” he said.
Ayob Khan (photo) said preventive laws play an important role in curbing terrorist activities and every country. Malaysia, being no exception, has specific laws to prevent or deal with terrorism.
“The authorities face differing threats now compared to previously, and it is vital for the preventive laws to be in place.
“An absence of preventive laws will make it difficult for us to take precautionary measures; the preventive action is to stop the terrorists before they launch any attack,” he said.
Ayob also said that 65 Malaysians with links to IS are currently in Syria.
These people, 40 of whom are women and children, have expressed their desire to return to Malaysia and the police are in discussion with several authorities, including the National Security Council and the Home Ministry as well as agencies abroad, to handle the matter.
“Nevertheless, it all depends on the government whether to allow them to return (to Malaysia) or not because various aspects have to be considered, such as cost and so on,” he said.
Ayob Khan personally feels that these people should be brought back because, despite what they have done, they are Malaysian citizens and Malaysia is a responsible country.
“Agreed that they have done wrong. However, we can consider their appeal. The men will be prosecuted while the women will be assessed and, if there is sufficient evidence, they will also be prosecuted.
“The children will be sent for counselling and deradicalisation sessions. The Malaysians being held in prisons and refugee camps (abroad) are in very critical condition in many aspects,” he said.