KUALA LUMPUR: The police counter terrorism division has launched a manhunt for at least five other members of the Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab who entered the country as college students and tourists.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the hunt was to ensure that Malaysia did not become a training ground for militant groups.
“Malaysia has never compromised when it comes to militant activities. This (efforts to hunt terrorists) is done continuously,” he told reporters after visiting the Kamunting Prison yesterday.
“We are hunting down several individuals. Some of them are married to local women. They have not set up bases in this country but they share the ideology.”
His comments came a day after a suspected Somali terrorist belonging to the Al-Shabaab group, which is active in Africa and the Middle East, was arrested in Selangor.
The 34-year-old was also on the most wanted list Interpol.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said the man was believed to have entered Malaysia using student passes two years ago and studied in a private college.
Deputy IGP Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Zinin said police were using all resources to search and detain the remaining members.
“We are focused on capturing these dangerous people,” he told The Star yesterday.
According to a source involved in the operation, the counter terrorism unit had been closely monitoring a group of five Al-Shabaab members who had entered the country using altered passports and signed up as students of top private colleges and public universities using fake identities and documents.
“There are strong indications that the group was trying to set up a base here to remain below surveillance.
“We believe authorities in Africa and Europe were closing in on them, forcing some members to flee to Malaysia,” the source said.
Asked why the militant group picked Malaysia, the source said the perception was that the country was “too welcoming”.
“Security at our entry points is deemed to be lax and this is luring the wrong kind of people. It is about time the systems in place are revamped,” the source said.
So far, police have found no signs to suggest that Al-Shabaab had been attempting to recruit Malaysians or forge any form of cooperation with home-grown militants who were detained recently.
The arrest of the Somali man is not believed to be linked to the arrest of 11 Malaysians for involvement with militant groups in Syria and southern Philippines.