IGP: Sabah used as transit point by militants to enter conflict zones in Philippines, Myanmar

Members of The Royal Malaysian Police take part in a demonstration showing a mock terrorist attack during the 211th National Day celebration at Pulapol in Kuala Lumpur March 25, 2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak
Members of The Royal Malaysian Police take part in a demonstration showing a mock terrorist attack during the 211th National Day celebration at Pulapol in Kuala Lumpur March 25, 2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

IPOH, April 25 — Sandakan and Tawau in Sabah are being used by militants to enter conflict zones at Southern Philippines and Rakhine Myanmar, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said.

He said with Syria and Iraq being attacked by allied forces, militants are looking for new bases to operate from.

“We are aware that in South-east Asia, Tawau and Sandakan are being used as transit points by militants to enter Southern Philippines and Myanmar. That is for South-east Asia. In European countries, we know they are looking at Balkan states such as Bosnia and a few other nations,” he said, adding that this was from intelligence gathering and the exchange of information with police agencies worldwide.

Speaking to reporters here today after attending the Pingat Jasa Pahlawan Negara awards ceremony for the Perak Contingent here today, Fuzi said the police are closely monitoring the matter and arrests from time to time had been made to keep militants in check.

“We are also monitoring social media to check the spread of Islamic State (IS) ideology,” he said.

Earlier, Fuzi said the number of IS militants are on the decline.

“At one time, there were some 45,000 fighters but now, we have been informed the numbers have dropped to 35,000,” he said.

In March, Malay Mail reported that the police picked up nine suspects with links to an African-based terror group behind alleged plans to launch large-scale attacks in several countries in a raid held in February.

Two of the suspects, an Egyptian and a Tunisian national, are believed to be fighters with the Ansar Al-Shariah Al-Tunisia, which is part of the al-Qaeda terror network operating in North Africa.

The two, aged 21 and 22, came to Malaysia as a transit point with the help of seven others, five of them Egyptian nationals and two Malaysians, who provided lodgings and paid for other expenses including plane tickets to the country.