Malaysia on alert as Mosul offensive stokes fears of militant influx
Malaysia has stepped up security at its borders in case Malaysian militant fighters try to return home after Iraqi forces launched a major offensive to recapture the Islamic State (IS) stronghold of Mosul, deputy PM Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said on Tuesday.
Iraqi government forces launched a US-backed offensive on Monday to drive the IS from Mosul. Around 4,000 to 8,000 militants, a mix of Iraqi and foreign fighters, are estimated to be in the city.
Ahmad Zahid said Malaysian airport and border security had been increased, while illegal routes, commonly used by smugglers, were being monitored. “We have been exchanging intel with international intelligence agencies, and we have a suspect list, which includes names of those we believe have ties with Daesh (IS),” he said.
Zahid did not state how many Malaysians were currently in Mosul, but police figures released last month showed that 90 Malaysians had joined the IS in Syria and Iraq since 2013. In August, Malaysia revoked the passports of 68 Malaysians, who had been identified as leaving the country to join IS.
Returning fighters would be detained and sent for deradicalisation, he said.