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Analysts: Malaysia may face more IS attacks
Published:  Jul 8, 2016 4:25 AM
Updated: 10:46 AM

Analysts have said that Malaysia should prepare itself as it may face more Islamic State (IS) attacks, following the first confirmed IS-linked attack in a Puchong nightspot last month.

"In terms of why Malaysia is a target, struggles over the specific nature and extent of Islamisation are keen in Malaysia," said Meredith Weiss, associate political science professor with The State University of New York at Albany, as reported by Forbes.

The article said that the "hardcore" IS resents Malaysia's moderate Islam as well as the government's condemnation of the terror group's violent approach to making believers more puritan.

IS also sees a chance to convert disgruntled low-income earners in Malaysia into attack planners in the future in the country, it said.

Forbes also noted that Malaysian officials have been among the most vocal in the world against IS and have backed US efforts to suppress them.

"Malaysia is naturally viewed as a thorn in IS' worldview and ideology," says Phuong Nguyen, associate fellow at the Southeast Asia Program of US think-tank Center for Strategic and International Studies.

She added that IS has decided to attack Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand because its supporters within Southeast Asia took a "cue" from its call to target "so-called non-believers" during Ramadan, the holiest month for Muslims.

Those who support IS in Malaysia may include people who feel "alienated" on the poor side of a wealth gap, said Singapore Nanyang University international studies teacher Oh Ei Sun.

According to government statistics in 2014, about one percent of Malaysians live in poverty.

The article said that some of the poor, who are easily swayed by religion, can be turned into recruits for IS.

"Where Muslims are a majority, there's an effort to make it more puritanical," Oh said.

Meanwhile, Weiss said that future attacks may target the police and the government at large.

The extent of Islam in Malaysia “has perhaps fed aggravation with the state and police, at least among those already inclined to be disgruntled and short-fused”, Weiss said.

On June 28, there was a grenade blast at a nightspot in Puchong, which injured eight people.

The inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar later said that the attack had IS elements, making it the first confirmed IS-linked attack in Malaysia.

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