Malaysian counterterrorism chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, who has been hailed for the capture of hundreds of militant suspects during his four-year stint despite threats to his life, has been promoted to head the police force in Johor state, officials said this week.
Ayob’s transfer and new assignment with the rank of Commissioner of Police will take effect March 6, the Royal Malaysia Police announced late Thursday in a statement. It will cover efforts to combat general crime and maintain public order and security in one of Malaysia’s biggest states.
His successor in the top counterterror role has yet to be named.
Ayob’s promotion was overdue and he needed to be exposed to a bigger role, Abdul Hamid Bador, the nation’s police chief, told the local media on Friday.
“He has done a wonderful job,” he said. “So he has been given the opportunity to be out there to lead,” Abdul Hamid said.
Although rumors of Ayob’s transfer had circulated over the past six months, it was understood that he was only notified about the promotion late Thursday evening. He was summoned to meet with the Mohamed Farid Abu Hassan, director of the police’s Special Branch, on the same day and later by Abdul Hamid, the Inspector General of Police, who broke the news to him.
Ayob told BenarNews that he was looking forward to the new challenge.
“It is something new for me. Insyallah (God willing), I will carry out the task given to the best of my ability,” he said briefly.
Under Ayob’s leadership in counterterrorism efforts, more than 500 suspects from multiple terror organizations, including Islamic State (IS), have been arrested.
The father of two who hails from Pendang district in the northern Kedah state was appointed as the police’s counterterrorism chief in 2016.
That same year, Malaysia’s most wanted terrorist, Muhammad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi, had threatened to kill Ayob. It was only the beginning of many threats that followed from members and supporters of IS.
Ayob had to limit his movements. At one point, he was placed under heavy security due to the threats he received. He is hardly seen in public with his family or wife, who is also a top police officer, to avoid any unwarranted attention and exposure to threats.
Ayob, who holds a Master’s degree in information technology from a local university, joined the police force in December 1991. He served three years as a cadet officer in the Criminal Investigation Department before being transferred to serve in the Special Branch, whose functions combine the roles of elite police unit and domestic intelligence agency.
He has been with the Special Branch ever since. He joined the counter terrorism desk in 1995 before it became a separate and bigger unit with its own budget to combat terrorism and extremism in the Southeast Asian country.