Extremism a ticking time bomb, warn experts

Stay out: The ‘no trespassing’ sign at the compound in Jalan Rabani, Kampung Sungai Tiram, where the suspect behind the Sungai Tiram police station attack lived. — THOMAS YONG/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Extremist groups may appear to be dormant, but they must never be underestimated. They can be ticking time bombs that may explode at any time, say experts.

While the Ulu Tiram police station attack could be a random case, the potential threat of violence from extremist or radical groups cannot be understated, they added.

“They must be constantly kept under scrutiny and surveillance,” said Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Centre for Policy Research criminologist Datuk Dr P. Sundramoorthy.

“The attacker in Ulu Tiram came with a parang and not with any firearms or explosives. Thus, it indicates that this may be a random act from a JI member.”

However, he described the killing of the policemen as “an attack on all of us in society”.

“Killing, causing grievous hurt or any use of aggression and violence against officers at a police station is absolutely horrific and brutal. Such vicious attacks by members of terror, extremist and radical groups cannot be tolerated.”

The government, Sundramoorthy said, must address extremism and radicalism to maintain social cohesion, uphold democratic values and ensure the safety and security of all citizens.

“Our government must also strike a balance between protecting national security and safeguarding individual rights and freedoms,” he added.

Terrorism expert Dr Ahmad El-Muhammady said the attack on the police station could have been a “copycat” of similar attacks in Indonesia a few years ago.

“A few years ago, there were a series of attacks on law enforcement authorities in Indonesia.

“It might have inspired this particular attack,” he said, adding that the current regional and global situations could have driven the individual towards radicalism.

Ahmad said authorities should step up surveillance on suspected radical groups.

“While some could be seen as dormant, they should never be discounted or even underestimated. Authorities have to also identify factors that lead to radicalism and stop people from being influenced by extremist ideologies,” he said.

Prof Dr Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid of USM’s Political Science Department said the attack might be a form of retaliation for past actions against the suspect’s father, who was a JI member.

“Secondly, there is the takfiri (excommunicating other Muslims) ideology that runs in the family and passed from one generation to another generation.

“This is like a time bomb, which just happened to explode in the wee hours of this morning.”

He said it was important that police remain vigilant because dormancy did not mean the extremism ideology was dead.

“JI is known for its better indoctrination methods than the Islamic State (IS) which relies mainly on social media and lone wolf attackers.

“JI is more organised and better trained,” Prof Ahmad Fauzi said.

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