Cops say monitoring non-violent radical groups as ‘thin line’ separates them from militants

Syed Jaymal Zahiid
Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division (E8) principal assistant director Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay holds a press conference after speaking at IFCTF 2019 in Kuala Lumpur November 5, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 — Radical but non-violent groups in Malaysia remain a security risk as the line that separates them from militants is often a thin one, Bukit Aman counter-terrorism chief Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said today.

“There’s a thin line between these groups,” Ayob told reporters after speaking at the 2019 International Conference on Financial Crime and Terrorism Financing (IFCTF) here.

“For example, Hizbut Tahrir. They are against the idea of democracy. What does that mean? That means they believe in something more extreme,” he added.

“So we have to really weigh [if they pose a security risk].”

Hizbut Tahrir Malaysia aims to establish an Islamic state in Malaysia and a worldwide caliphate as part of its global network, although it has never explained how it plans to do so.

The group has been banned by Islamic authorities in Selangor and Sabah.

Ayob did not disclose the number of these risky groups, or if they can be considered dangerous to the public even if they profess to be non-violent.

He related that in the past, there have been cases where individuals from these risky groups were found to have supported militant activities.

But Ayob said the number of cases is too “small” to form a worrying pattern.

“There were cases but very few to make it a worrying trend,” he said.

Non-violent radical groups were among the topics discussed during today’s terrorism financing conference, although details of the discussions are scant since the press were barred from giving coverage.

These radical groups, though not outwardly violent, are seen as highly risky and have been found to be sympathetic to militant activities.

In Malaysia, Ayob said these groups exist, and that the authorities are closely monitoring them.

“If we find any reason at all, the moment they cross that line, we’ll arrest them,” he said.

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