Mat Sabu: Rohingyas vulnerable to exploitation by terror groups

Kenneth Tee

Mohamad Sabu said the international communities and Asean must work together to ensure the Rohingyas can return to their country peacefully. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 — Malaysia expressed concerns that the Rohingya refugee crisis may become a new resurgence ground for terrorist groups in the region, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu said today.

Better known as Mat Sabu, the minister said the Rohingya people were vulnerable and could be manipulated by extremist groups to conform to their ideologies of “death in combat”, as the only way to return to their homeland following extremist violence against the ethnic group in the Rakhine region, in Myanmar.

“We are very concern that these Rohingyas could be manipulated to become suicide bombers or recruited into terrorist cells in this region.

“Some of these Rohingya refugees have given up hope and may be willing to conform to such ideologies because they are left with no choice,” he said after launching the International Association of Counterterrorism and Security Professionals Asean Counter Terrorism Symposium at the InterContinental Hotel in here, today.

He drew comparison with a similar crisis between Palestine and Israel, whereby Palestinian refugees have spread around neighbouring Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon with some recruited to become suicide bombers for terrorist groups.

“At least 100,000 Rohingya refugees have seek safe haven in Malaysia following their exodus from their homeland since violence erupted and this is what worries us,” he said.

Asked if any of the Rohingya refugees in Malaysia have been recruited by terrorist groups, Mohamad said he had no such information but assured that the matter was being monitored by the Armed Forces and internal securities as most of them were registered under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Earlier during his keynote speech at the event, Mohamad said terrorism globally has taken a toll on the international community with the rise in religious and ideological inspired terrorism for the past two decades have divided communities globally.

Mohamad said the international communities and Asean must work together to ensure the Rohingyas can return to their country peacefully.

“This can no longer be considered as an internal conflict or domestic issue.

“Asean countries, the United Nations and other leading countries should play a bigger role to ensure that those who are driven out of their country may return and live in harmony in their home country,” he said.

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