With the Malaysian media reporting that members of the Islamic State (IS) within Malaysia are planning their own attacks, what would be the consequences should an attack actually occur?
IN the wake of the attacks in Paris and Jakarta, there have numerous reports about police arresting suspected IS terrorists, who were planning, or were even on the way, to undertake terrorist attacks. The Malaysian Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan also indicated specific crowded public places that are potential IS terrorist targets.
Writers in the local media are telling us that terrorist attacks are increasing in frequency and that ‘aggressive Islamic organizations’ sympathizing with IS are trying to establish regional cells in the Philippines, Indonesia, and in Malaysia as well.
We are even told that the Katibah Nusantara, a military unit in Syria loyal to IS manned primarily by Indonesians and Malaysians, has made terror threats in Malaysia. According to Free Malaysia Today, earlier this morning, the alleged mastermind of the Jakarta terrorist attack, Bahrom Naim, who is a founding member of Khatibah Nusantara, was on the verge of activating sleeper cells to carry out attacks in Malaysia.
However, we are told by the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi that there is a need for a comprehensive approach to tackle terrorism in Malaysia. Zahid is putting terrorism at the top of the agenda by saying that suicide bombers could be disguised as anyone, including tourists, office workers, ordinary people, factory workers, and even preachers. This is being corroborated, with the Malaysian Police Special Branch Director Mohamad Fuzi Harun saying that the police are ready to face the Islamic State threat in the country, where all measures are being taken to ensure this threat will not become a reality.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak justified the introduction of the National Security Council (NSC) Bill by telling Malaysians that they would not have any civil liberties under a country controlled by the Islamic State.
So what would a terrorist attack on Malaysian soil mean? What would be the reaction by authorities? What would be the consequences?
The National Security Council (NSC) could potentially be activated. In fact, to some extent it already has. The National Security Council has already approved military forces to be used for joint patrols with police in public places.
The NSC is chaired Najib and is part of the Prime Minister’s Department. According to the National Security Council Bill 2015, which was rushed through the Malaysian Parliament, the prime minister has full power to declare any security area within the country, where security forces can arrest without warrant, stop and search, enter and search any premises, take possession of land, buildings, or vehicles, where no legal means can be taken to oppose such actions.
One of the interesting things about the National Security Council Bill is that the authority to act bypasses the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and puts direct authority in the hands of the prime minister, who takes advice from an eight-member security council.
As the Malaysian Bar Council says, this would lurch Malaysia into an ‘authoritarian Government’, which could act without all the checks and balances built into the system of government via the constitution.
This scenario has been alluded to by the prime minister in his recent statement.
Sceptics at this time would be very quick to point out that in the current political environment full of scandals that lead straight to the door of the prime minister himself, that the NSC could be used as a tool to maintain his grip on power.
The author has witnessed the aftermath of ‘terrorist attacks’ in neighbouring countries to Malaysia. Of the half a dozen he has witnessed, about half the bombs were made to scare, rather than main or kill. Some were actually very small events, but led to strong reactions by authorities. Sometimes the real perpetrators were not who they appeared to be.
At the risk of becoming a subscriber to conspiracy theories, some comments should be made about some of the latest terror attacks within the region. Although the Bali and Marriot bombings in Indonesia were bloody, violent events, the latest Jakarta bombing has attracted some comments.
An arms expert made the comment that the actual explosions didn’t appear to have the shock wave associated with a bomb explosion, and seemed to appear more like a smoke bomb going off. At the very least they appeared to be very amateurish nitrate-diesel based bombs with a very low intensity. Some eye witnesses mentioned off the record that it appeared to be a staged managed event, where there were some reports that a drill was actually going on at the time.
There are still a lot of questions that remain to be answered about the Jakarta bombings, and who is actually behind them, before major shifts in internal security are made. Is the frequency of these acts of terror actually rising, or does it just appear that way?
Terrorism is even more dangerous when it gets intermingled with government agenda. We saw this in 9/11 with Iraq.
Unfortunately, the increase of authoritarian government has not been shown to make the world any safer.