Malaysia now is welcoming Islamic State returnees back to the country. However, there is a catch to that. They have to go for rehabilitation upon their return.
According to The Star, Malaysians who had left the country to fight alongside terrorist group Islamic State (IS) can come back home if they are ready to comply to the government’s conditions, said Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division head Deputy Comm Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay on Wednesday (Mar 13).
Al Jazeera reported Ayob as saying that Malaysians who made the mistake of travelling abroad to join IS may return as long as they agree to undergo interrogation, follow all government checks, enforcement and complete a one-month government-sanctioned rehabilitation programme.
“Not everyone will be detained, but all returnees will be interrogated.
“We will conduct thorough checks and investigation on each returnee. We bring in clerics and psychologists to evaluate their ideology and psychological makeup,” Ayob explained.
“We will compare intelligence which we received from friendly foreign services. If there is evidence that a returnee was involved in Islamic State’s militant activities, he or she will be charged in court.”
Meanwhile, western countries like England and the United States are either stripping or attempting to strip the citizenship of former fighters of the terrorist group and their family members, denying their rights to return to the country.
Great Britain recently overturned three women’s citizenship who had joined IS in Syria, including the current infamous British national teen Shamima Begum.
Meanwhile in the US, 24-year-old Hoda Muthana, who left the country to marry an IS fighter in 2014, is not allowed to return to the country. Her family who is living in a Syrian refugee camp has filed a lawsuit against the US government for denying her return.
In Malaysia, there are at least 102 of our nationals who had left the country to join the terrorist group in recent decades. 40 out of 102 Malaysians were reported to be killed while fighting in Iraq and Syria. Nine out of 40 were suicide bombers.
According to Ayob, 11 Malaysians have returned. Among them, eight were charged in courts. The remaining three comprise a woman and two children aged three and five.
“The woman underwent a rehabilitation programme and has now returned to her kampung.
“She continues to be monitored,” he said, adding that the police are also keeping an eye on Malaysians who are still willing to fight for IS in Iraq and Syria, despite its imminent collapse.
“Those who cannot go to Syria are now setting their sights on Mindanao in southern Philippines where militant groups there have links to IS,” he said.
Some 51 Malaysians still remain in Syria, 17 of which are children, Ayob revealed.