KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 10 — Police are pushing a new anti-terrorism law mooted to tackle the threat of the Islamic State (IS) to be hastened to give it the powers to head off attacks such as the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris.
According to a report by the New Straits Times today, unnamed sources with the Bukit Aman federal police headquarters cited the Islamist attacks in Paris, among others, as demonstrating the urgent need for the law that would reintroduce preventive detention powers that went away with the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA).
The law has been tentatively dubbed the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).
“It will deliver the tools for the authorities to identify, incapacitate and convict terrorists before they strike,” the NST quoted an anonymous police official as saying.
Another police source claimed that the authorities have been forced to release “scores of terror suspects” in the previous two years due to lack of evidence.
This was primarily because much of the collected evidence — surveillance videos, wiretaps, photos and more — were inadmissible in a court of law.
“There are many cases where no further action could be taken against terror suspects because the evidence we have could not be produced in open court,” said the unnamed police source.
“POTA will address these issues as the trials will not be held in open court.”
Neither the report nor the official clarified why such evidence was inadmissible.
In the White Paper tabled last year in Parliament on the IS, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak outlined the history of the IS, the threat the group poses and the impact it has on Malaysians, as well as the danger in allowing its skewed Islamic teachings and violent practices to spread in Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country.
The White Paper also recommended a new anti-terrorism law to address the menace.
Three suspected Islamists descended on the office of satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo on January 7 and gunned down 12 people including the magazine’s staff and police officers over its provocative depictions of Prophet Muhammad.
Altogether 17 victims have died along with the three hostage-takers since Wednesday.
This morning, a top official of the al Qaeda terrorist network — to which the slain Islamist gunmen had claimed affiliation — warned France of further attacks over the Charlie Hebdo incident.