EXCLUSIVE: PETALING JAYA: Bukit Aman’s biggest fear now is that pro-Islamic State (IS) websites may be used to encourage “lone wolf” attacks in Malaysia.
It said terror attacks need not be carried out by a group because it only takes one person to create chaos.
“A person armed merely with a knife who starts stabbing people in a mall is enough to disrupt safety and security,” said Bukit Aman’s Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division principal assistant director Senior Asst Comm Datuk Ayob Khan.
“Anyone who is pro-IS can carry out the attack at any moment. That is our biggest fear,” he said in an interview yesterday.
He cited the attack at the Kunming train station in Yunnan province in China, where two knife-wielding women were among the attackers who killed 29 people and injured 143 others in March.
IS leaders have reportedly called for lone wolf attacks in the United States and France, two countries that have been conducting air strikes against the militant group in Iraq. IS also made fresh calls on its followers to carry out similar attacks against Australians recently.
“Those who are influenced by IS or other militant groups can acquire any weapon, be it a gun or a bomb, and launch an attack.
“We have to be constantly vigilant.
“One of the ways is shutting down websites promoting extremism and IS-led beliefs,” he said.
At least 12 locally registered websites used by militant recruiters targeting Malaysians were shut down in 2012, said SAC Ayob.
However, a check by The Star showed that seven are accessible again.
SAC Ayob reckoned they might have “foreign domain addresses to prevent us from shutting them down again”.
The 12 sites, which glorified several terrorist groups including al-Qaeda, were identified as being responsible for convincing a number of Malaysians to join extremists.
Among those influenced are a Malaysian doctor from a northern state, a 14-year-old student from the east coast and several professionals – all of whom have joined IS militants in either Iraq or Syria.
“We are working with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to monitor sites which are not only used to recruit but also promote terrorism and extremist beliefs.
“When such sites are detected, Bukit Aman asks MCMC’s assistance to block or shut them down.
“We are constantly on the lookout for sites used by IS recruiters or other militants to target Malaysians, especially the young ones.”
While administrators of social media sites such as Facebook would shut them down once informed by the authorities, he said IS recruiters were cunning.
“They create a new profile with a slightly different name and picture to prevent further action.
“The recruiters just take three months to sink the ‘hook’ into their targets,” he said.
Other common “recruitment tools” are chat applications such as Yahoo Messenger and Whatsapp.
“Now they are attracting young women to join them with the prospect of marriage with the fighters.”
SAC Ayob said recruiters had dropped the modus operandi of the 1970s and 1980s of only targeting Islamic religious schools or universities.
“Now, even those in government schools or public and private universities are targeted.”
It was reported that IS recruiters were using the social media to target young Malaysians and schoolchildren, especially girls, to fight or provide “domestic services” in Syria and Iraq.