KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia remains a transit point for terrorists as those coming from most Middle-Eastern countries and some African nations do not require a visa, says Deputy Comm Datuk Ayob Khan.
The Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division (E8) head said entering the country without a visa has made Malaysia the first choice of foreign terrorist fighters.
"Most foreign militants are of Arab and African nationalities.
"Malaysia has become their first choice since they entered the country without a visa," he told a press conference at the 11th International Conference on Financial Crime and Terrorism Financing 2019 (IFCTF 2019) on Tuesday (Nov 5).
While acknowledging that it was not a new issue, DCP Ayob said the government is working to address the matter.
"Since 2013, we have arrested 38 foreign terrorist fighters, who use Malaysia as transit.
"Some were prosecuted while others were deported," he added.
It was reported that the US State Department's Country Reports on Terrorism 2018 stated that Malaysia was not attacked by terrorist groups such as Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda but was used by them as a source and transit point.
It said Malaysia was used as a transit point by suspected IS supporters deported from Turkey and those planning to travel to the southern Philippines to support IS-affiliated groups.
However, the report did not mention the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Asked on the matter, DCP Ayob said Malaysia did not have to follow the US State Department's list as it was a sovereign nation.
"It is a fact that LTTE is still listed as a terrorist group in other countries, including our own," he said.
On the terrorism financing front, DCP Ayob said police are working closely with various entities, including Bank Negara Malaysia, local banks as well as the private sector to address the issue.
"The amount involved were usually small amount but it is frequently made. As I said before, no matter the amount, it is still an offence to channel the funds in support of terrorist groups and activities.
"A total of 22 investigation papers on terrorism funding have been opened since 2016. Of the number, 19 convictions were recorded while three others are currently being prosecuted," DCP Ayob said.
The police, especially the E8, is ever vigilant against any form of terror threat, he said.
"We are always on alert against any terrorist element that might threaten the country," he added.