Malaysia warns of bid to make South-East Asia new base for ISIS

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia has warned that an Indonesia-based militant’s followers are looking to make South-East Asia the new base for Islamic State terror group, days after six Indonesian militants were arrested for plotting a missile attack at Singapore’s Marina Bay. I

Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said according to intelligence reports some of Indonesia-based Abu Bakar Bashir’s 300 followers, who were in jail, have been released and they reportedly went to Batam, a small island in Indonesia’s Riau archipelago in the South China Sea.

“A short boat ride from Singapore, it’s a free trade zone with multiple busy ports, known for its beaches and resorts. From there, they want to make South-East Asia the new port for IS,” he told reporters yesterday.

Abu Bakar, known as the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, behind the 2002 Bali bombings, was sentenced to 15 years jail in 2011.

Ahmad Zahid said Malaysians should be mindful as extremism had reached a stage where it was no longer “what if” but “when will it happen?”.

Seeking cooperation from everyone to fight the rising threat in the South-East Asian region, he said that Malaysian authorities were discussing with their counterparts on ways to enhance security in the region.

Six Indonesian militants, including an ISIS fighter, were arrested on Friday for plotting a missile attack at Singapore’s Marina Bay.

Even before Friday’s foiled rocket attack on Singapore’s Marina Bay, Ahmad Zahid said the Defence and Home ministries had placed assets and manpower at areas dubbed “black spots” for security purposes.