Cyberspace new battle ground against ISIS, says Mohamad Sabu

Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu speaks to reporters during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur April 19, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu speaks to reporters during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur April 19, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 — Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu has called for greater vigilance against the threat of ISIS in cyberspace, warning that it “keeps the virtual form of caliphate alive through the diabolical language of hatred.”

Condemning the recent terror attacks in Sri Lanka and New Zealand, he said at the Eighth Moscow Conference on International Security today that the defeat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq was not the end of its terror threat and cyberspace was now a new battle ground.

“Cyber-attacks can be very complicated to deal with and requires totally new doctrine for us to counter it effectively. Cyber defence is not about physical strength, but wit and sharpness. We need new types of soldiers, one with sound knowledge in information technology.

Considering the complexity of cyberspace, Mohamad said each government needs to enhance its cyber defence capabilities and work together with other countries to form a network for cyber defence.

He pointed out that Malaysia has initiated the Counter Messaging Centre (CMC) under the Royal Malaysia Police which monitors the use of internet and social media by terror groups to disseminate their radical ideology as well as to counter their narratives and rhetoric.

At the same time, he said his ministry has established the Cyber Defence Operation Centre (CDOC) to address this increasing non-traditional security threats.

In addition to enhanced cyber defence, Mohamad said countries should also promote a better understanding of various religions, as well as tighter firearms control.

 “With deeper understanding about religions, we can eliminate misjudgment and avoid resentment and hostility. Virtual caliphate and cyber-attacks require us to have a better control over the cyberspace,” said Mohamad

“Threats posed by Daesh are now greater due to the advancement of technology. Combating terrorism requires better cooperative security strategies in various forms, be it hard or soft approaches.

“There is no ‘one size fits all’ in terms of violent extremist or terrorist profile, set of motivations, level of radicalisation and extremism, and their trajectories. Similarly, counter terrorism responses and solutions. It is fundamental that we be united to fight against terrorism effectively.”

Mohamad also said that the South-east Asia region with a Muslim population of 65 per cent was seen to be a suitable location for Daesh to continue and pursue their misguided ambitions, but he stressed that Islam is a religion of peace.

“Islam teaches us about patience, kindness and forgiveness. Islam reminds us to be fair, truthful and not to harm others. Killing and causing destruction totally diverts from the true teaching of Islam.

“An act of terrorism in Islam is a heresy brought forward by people who pursue their own selfish interests,” he said.