Malaysia’s police chief: Daesh fighters ‘must be allowed to come back’

The Malaysian government has still to decide whether a reported 40 Daesh members of Malaysian origin should be allowed to return to their homeland from Syria. (File/AFP)
Updated 17 October 2019

Malaysia’s police chief: Daesh fighters ‘must be allowed to come back’

  • Many Malaysians believe that the Daesh returnees will pose a threat to national security and should not be allowed to return
  • Malaysia claims that its deradicalization program is one of the most successful in the world — a model for the fight against terrorism and religious extremism

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian government has still to decide whether a reported 40 Daesh members of Malaysian origin — including women and children — should be allowed to return to their homeland from Syria. But the Inspector-General of Police of Malaysia Abdul Hamid Bador told Arab News on Thursday, “They are Malaysians and the must be allowed to come back.”
Bador stressed that any returning Daesh members would be charged under Malaysia’s Security Offenses Act and would have to undergo the country’s deradicalization program. But while many Malaysians are opposed to allowing the hard-line militants to return home, Bador said, “As a sovereign nation, Malaysia must fulfill her international obligations. We will undertake the responsibility of subjecting all of them to our rehabilitation programs.”
At a press conference on Saturday, Malaysia’s Special Branch Anti-Terrorist Division principal assistant director Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said that Daesh returnees would undergo rehabilitation, which would include counseling for the children.
Many Malaysians believe that the Daesh returnees will pose a threat to national security and should not be allowed to return.
“In principle, they are the citizens (of Malaysia), so they have a right to come back,” Dr. James Dorsey, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute, told Arab News. “But, in having to fulfill that obligation, obviously the question arises whether or not they broke the law, and to what degree they pose a threat.”
Dorsey warned that “not all deradicalization programs are 100-percent effective,” but said he believed that rehabilitation would enable people to reenter society to some degree.
“The assumption is that they went to Syria to fight, so now that Syria is no longer available they are going to come home to fight. But we don’t know that for a fact,” he said. “That may be true for some, but not for others. It is really going to be a question of evaluating every single one. We need to deal with each of them differently. Sending them to rehabilitation might be one way to resolve this.”
“There are no magic tricks involved in the programs,” Bador said to Arab News. Their success, he said, depended on coordination between the police, the religious department, and prison officers. “We are also thankful that the prisoners themselves have the willpower to return to society,” he added.
Malaysia claims that its deradicalization program is one of the most successful in the world — a model for the fight against terrorism and religious extremism, in which religious institutions play an equally important role during the rehabilitation process.
“Malaysia prides itself to having achieved a 97 percent success rate which indicates that occurrences of recidivism are minimal,” said Muhammad Sinatra, an analyst at Malaysia’s Institute of Strategic and International Studies.
He told Arab News that Daesh returnees would serve time in prison, and would —  along with the women and children — be enrolled in a month-long rehabilitation program by the government.
“The women and children must have suffered from witnessing horrendous violence and losing their loved ones during their time in Syria and Iraq,” Sinatra said. “This is on top of the physical toll that years spent in conflict zones will have taken. It will take a tremendous effort by psychologists and doctors to address the physical and mental issues these returnees face.”
Sinatra added that it is imperative that the government hear testimonies from current Daesh prisoners — or preferably those who have been released — about the effectiveness of the rehabilitation program in order to obtain a more holistic picture of its success.


Meghan felt ‘unprotected’ by UK royal family while pregnant: Court papers

Updated 6 min 51 sec ago

Meghan felt ‘unprotected’ by UK royal family while pregnant: Court papers

  • Meghan is suing publisher Associated Newspapers over articles its Mail on Sunday newspaper printed last year
  • Markle and his daughter have not spoken since he pulled out of appearing at her wedding to Harry in May 2018 after undergoing heart surgery

LONDON: Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, felt “unprotected” by the British royal family while she was pregnant with her son Archie, according to London High Court documents filed as part of her legal action against a tabloid newspaper.
Meghan, wife of Queen Elizabeth’s grandson Prince Harry, is suing publisher Associated Newspapers over articles its Mail on Sunday newspaper printed last year which included parts of a handwritten letter she had sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, in August 2018.
Markle and his daughter have not spoken since he pulled out of appearing at her wedding to Harry in May 2018 after undergoing heart surgery and following news he had staged photos with a paparazzi photographer.
The Mail justified publishing the letter by saying five unnamed friends of Meghan, who gave birth to Archie in May 2019, had put her version of events in interviews with the US magazine People.
Her legal team say it was untrue she had authorized or arranged for her friends to tell People about the letter.
“The Claimant had become the subject of a large number of false and damaging articles by the UK tabloid media, specifically by the Defendant, which caused tremendous emotional distress and damage to her mental health,” her lawyers said in a submission to the High Court.
“As her friends had never seen her in this state before, they were rightly concerned for her welfare, specifically as she was pregnant, unprotected by the Institution, and prohibited from defending herself.”
The couple are now living in Los Angeles after stepping down from royal duties at the end of March. Harry said he had fallen out with his elder brother, Prince William, and Meghan has spoken of a lack of support when pregnant and as a new mother.
They have also said media intrusion, and what they believe are some newspapers’ racist coverage toward Meghan, whose mother is African-American and father is white, were behind their decision.
The trial for Meghan’s case is not expected this year. But in May, the judge rejected part of her claim that the paper had acted dishonestly and stoked the rift with her father.
On Wednesday, Harry said he regretted racism was “still endemic” in society in comments for The Diana Award, established in memory of his late mother, Princess Diana, who was killed in a car crash in 1997 while fleeing paparazzi.