Zahid explains why some Malaysians join Isis

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A cult-like worship towards the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) and its leaders, coupled with problems with family and financial difficulties are among the reasons why some Malaysians join the militant group, the home minister said today.

Revealing that the police have arrested 75 people suspected of having links to Isis, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said those who were attracted to the group were obsessed with the organisation and its leaders.

"Research from our police and Interpol found that they joined the group not because of ideology but because of obsession," he told Datuk Wan Mohammad Khair-il Anuar Wan Ahmad (BN-Kuala Kangsar) during Question Time in Parliament today.

Zahid also said those who joined the terrorist organisation were mostly from broken families and had financial problems.

"Although financial difficulties are not the main factor, it is a push and pull factor," he said.

In rattling off the names of Malaysians who had joined Isis and died fighting in Iraq and Syria, Zahid said Putrajaya is in the process of identifying three people that were killed who were said to be Malaysians.

He had also revealed that six former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees who have joined Isis, as well as five from Kumpulan Militan Malaysia (KMM) and one from Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). He said Putrajaya has always view threats by militant groups seriously and has taken steps to stop it from taking root in the country.

This include close monitoring by police on individuals suspected of being involved in the organization, as well as having close cooperation with overseas intelligence agencies to exchange information.

He also said the government with the cooperation from NGOs, have various preventive programmes via ceramahs, seminars, khutbah jumaat, meetings and media to explain the real context of jihad, and the dangers of extremism that tilt towards militancy.

Additionally, a specific rehabilitation module is being formulated to neutralise militants that were arrested and are currently in custody now, with the hopes of turning them around and returning them to society soon.

"As you are aware, I've tabled the Prevention of Terrorism bill yesterday to tackle this militant issue and I hope all lawmakers from both sides of the divide can support this," he said.

"Terrorism is a threat to all of us and we have to be united on this."

Last November, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak proposed that a new law against militancy and terrorism be tabled at the next Parliament session to tackle the dangers posed by Malaysians who return after fighting alongside Isis.

In tabling the 19-page White Paper titled "Towards overcoming the threat of Islamic State", Najib said existing anti-terrorism and militancy laws like the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma), Prevention of Crime Act and the Penal Code should be bolstered. – March 31, 2015.

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