Heavily-armed group of men wearing black crosses the Strait of Melaka in twenty speedboats at night from the island of Rupat, 50 kilometers from the coastal town of Port Dickson. Travelling at 36 knots it takes them just 47 minutes to reach the Negeri Sembilan shores. Most land at the beach in Pasir Panjang to distract the security forces while three land at the town itself. Sending a group of armed men with suicide bombers hitting the waterfront cafes, the rest making for the refinery and power station in cars provided by sleeper agents. Being an insurgency or homeland security in nature, the OCPD could only declare the area as an emergency area but lacks the resources to combat them. He could not readily ask for the assistance from the various army units located there without having to go through the red tapes. Stretched thin in terms of manpower, there is very little that the police could do.
The Chief Minister of Penang (whomever that may be) with members of the Penang State Executive Committee holds a function in the vicinity of Weld Quay. Several heavily armed men emerges from an abandoned building across the road and randomly fires into the crowd. Two of them managed to get close to the podium before blowing themselves up.
When two rival gangs got involved in a quarrel that culminated in a grenade-throwing incident in Bukit Bintang in October 2014, I went on air to discuss the matter and registered my concerns about the possibility of terror attacks in Kuala Lumpur and how real they could get. The attack in Puchong by Daesh sympathisers underscores this concern and shows that the police cannot cover everything.
Scenario One above is an enhancement of two actual events that took place in Sabah – both in Lahad Datu in 1985 and in 2013. In 1985, a group of 15-20 armed men from the Philippines robbed the Chartered Bank and Malaysia Airlines office in Lahad Datu. These men fired randomly at onlookers killing at least 21 people and injuring 11 others. The outnumbered and outgunned police sought help from the nearest military unit but were told that it was beyond them as the incident was a robbery and not an invasion. In 2013, a group of heavily armed men landed at Kampung Tanduo and started what was known as the Lahad Datu stand off. Insurgency by nature, the military was not made involved until after several policemen were killed.
Several years ago the police stopped three youths in Johor Baru from carrying out a suicide mission at the Causeway. When the police questioned one of the youths on the reason for wanting to blow himself up, the latter replied, “I would go straight to heaven, I could pick ten of my family members whom I would want to be in heaven with me, and I would get 72 virgins.” When asked what would he do with these 72 virgins he simply replied, “I don’t know.”
He was 13 when arrested, had no idea what he was doing but he thought what he was about to do would do his religion, him and his family a lot of good.
In times like this, the traditional school of thought where “terrorism is a network where one cell controls other cells” no longer applies. No longer does the body wither when the head is taken off. The terrorism of nowadays only needs likeminded people who share the same interest, ideology and wavelength. No longer do you need so many people to conduct a terror attack – and at times, lone wolves obsessed with the lunacy of the “teachings” would be enough to drive someone to blow himself up in the name of religion.
Th recent arrests of Daesh-related operatives in Batam whom had planned a rocket attack on the Singapore CBD shows how dangerous these pockets of terrorists are. They are totally detached from what is considered as the main body of Daesh. All it takes for the network to expand and work are social media and phone apps.
The Batam raid succeeded because intelligence agencies from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore have been sharing information on known and known-potential terrorists in the region. What all agencies fear are those who enter the country undetected through rat-holes in the borders, as Federal police Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division (SB-CTD) principal assistant director Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said it would be harder to detect them as “we wouldn’t know whom to look for and where.” And with limited resources and men, it is not possible to keep every target in sight.
The recent grenade attack at the Movida Bar in Puchong is evident.
Perhaps the timing is just right that Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali is made the Director-General of the Immigration Department. One of the most dedicated senior officers of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Mustafar would be able to clean the department up and help plug the holes at our borders.
Ayob Khan’s men and women are working continuously round the clock monitoring the Internet traffic and keeping tab on known Daesh sympathisers. With the coming into force of the National Security Council Act, 2016, his men would have a better legal backing to combat terrorism and prevent terrorist attacks in the country. The new Act would allow all resources to be deployed without having the present red tapes preventing instant cooperation and coordination between agencies.
Without which, Malaysians cannot have a normal life – no shopping in peace, no weekend dinner and drinks with friends and family. Our way of life, as we know it, would simply be disrupted.
And all it takes is one madman.