MP SPEAKS Yesterday, French security forces neutralised and killed three suspects in two separate locations in Paris, in connection with the Charlie Hebdo massacre.
It was widely reported that the two Kouachi brothers killed were on the terrorist watch list for some time. One was involved in recruiting fighters to go to Iraq, and the other received military training in Yemen. Hours before their death, they claimed to be members of Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, and that they were prepared to die for martyrdom.
France will, in the coming months, have to grapple with the consequences of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack, and a public debate will ensue as to why young French citizens are drawn to terrorist movements in the Middle East.
Like the French, we in Malaysia are seriously concerned about the growing influence of terrorist groups - like the Islamic State (IS) - in our own backyard, attracting our young to join their fights in Iraq and Syria.
We already have two suicide bombers from Malaysia killed overseas, which is totally unprecedented as far as Malaysian involvement in fighting wars far away from home are concerned.
Yesterday, it was reported that a former Malaysian commando - an expert in making bombs, handling firearms and trained to survive in harsh conditions - was arrested by the Saudi Arabian authorities in Riyadh, in connection with his involvement with the IS militant group.
What we are most worried about, are Malaysians getting radicalised overseas, and turned into weapons to create havoc when they return home from fighting abroad.
Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein warned just two days ago that what took place in France at the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, is something that can happen in Malaysia.
Yet the sad reality is, very little has been done by the police and the government to monitor and counter the spread of terrorist propaganda and activities in the country, despite public condemnation of IS as a terrorist organisation.
Police cyber team sleeping?
Even with reported efforts by Bukit Aman to educate state and district police on being alert about militant activities - including activities promoting militancy - it is totally bewildering how it was reported in the press yesterday that a shop in Bangi had been allowed to operate for months, selling IS merchandise and paraphernalia (such as IS flags, T-shirts and caps), and had gone unnoticed by the police.
For a long time now, it has been widely reported that terrorist groups like IS are becoming savvy, using social media and the Internet as their platforms to attract the young to join their cause.
It was also reported for some time that Malay-language websites have been set up to glorify terrorist groups like the IS, a fact which seems to have totally alluded our security forces.
What has the special task force called ‘the Police Cyber Investigation Response Centre' (PCIRC) - announced by inspector-general of police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar to be equipped with the latest technological tools - been doing all this time in monitoring cyberspace?
These Malay-based websites, obviously targeted at Malay-speaking countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore - notably Al-Mustaqbal.net and shoutussalam.com - are used to spread their radical and extremist propaganda, and pose a real security threat to our country.
These websites use videos to glorify the victories of IS battles, and feature articles and gruesome pictures on why beheading is justified in Islam. They also very recently carried articles defending the Charlie Hebdo massacre.
The fact that the above websites have not been shut down or blocked, and continue to be easily accessible on the Internet, demonstrates a total failure on the part of our authorities in monitoring terrorist activities on the Internet - for which the IGP must personally answer.
The latest remarks by the IGP to urge for the retention of the Sedition Act in light of the Paris attacks are totally out of place, and irrelevant. What Malaysians want, is for the police to stop playing politics and take their policing job more seriously in tackling and countering militant activities and propaganda.
We do not need the Sedition Act, we need a new IGP.
GOOI HSIAO LEUNG is Alor Setar MP and PKR international bureau chief.