Malaysia Launches Terrorism Response Task Force

BenarNews staff

2016-10-27
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161027-MY-nsof-620.jpg A Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency officer takes position on a boat in Malacca, June 18, 2014.
AFP

Malaysia on Thursday launched its first integrated special operations unit whose job is to respond rapidly to terrorist attacks and snuff out such threats, officials said.

Officers from the Malaysian police, army, navy and coast guard are joining ranks in forming the new National Special Operations Force (NSOF), which will act as first responders in the event of terror attacks, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced, according to local media.

Najib said the unit of 17 officers and 170 personnel, based at the Sungai Besi army camp in Kuala Lumpur, would respond to national security threats from Islamic State (IS) and other militant organizations, the New Straits Times reported.

“NSOF acts as a quick reaction force to curb terrorism in the early stages. The land, air and maritime units will be mobilized as the early group and will confront, fight and eliminate the threats,” the Ministry of Defense said in a statement reported by Malaysian state news agency Bernama. “Once the threat has been eliminated, NSOF will hand over the operation to security forces.”

Najib praised the integrated force and said it would strengthen the nation’s security.

“We are not apologetic for any measures taken by our security forces. This unit is based on the National Blue Ocean Strategy principle of sharing assets and capabilities, and acting under a single chain of command,” Najib said at the official launch of NSOF. “Without peace and security, all bets are off,” he said, according to Asia One.

The National Special Operations Force is almost fully operational and it functions in support of the controversial National Security Council Act implemented by Najib’s government two months ago, according to a report published Thursday by Channel NewsAsia.

The new law empowers the prime minister to declare any place a security area for six months at a time – subject to renewal – and it allows the council to authorize stops, searches and arrests of people, among other actions, according to legal experts.

IS threats

For many months, Malaysian officials have said that IS aggressively recruits young people to its ranks through propaganda spread via social media. Officials have also warned that those returning from combat stints with IS in the Middle East could mount terror plots on home soil.

“To date, a total of 250 Malaysians who are involved with Daesh militants, have been detained in the country, 32 people have died in Iraq and Syria while more than 60 people are still fighting for the retrograde ideology,” Najib said, according to Bernama, referring to IS by another name.

He said IS had pushed its ideology through social media, pointing to reactions to a grenade blast at the Movida nightclub in Puchong in June – the first attack claimed by IS on Malaysian soil.

“Fortunately, no fatal casualties, only eight were injured. Are we sure this thing will not recur. With the establishment of NSOF, it will improve our preparedness, and our ability to eradicate any incidents at any time,” he said.

Malaysian suspect caught in Philippines

The announcement about the new unit occurred a day after Malaysian Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed that authorities in the Philippines had taken a Malaysian man into custody at a port in the town of Maluso, in the southern Philippine province of Basilan.

The man, whose identity has not been released, allegedly attempted to flee from the port to return to Malaysia after placing explosives at the port.

Philippine media reported that the man had been seen at a camp run by Abu Sayyaf Group militants in an Abu Sayyaf camp in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan. Authorities are investigating whether the man was training Abu Sayyaf members to make bombs.

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