KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysian police are stepping up vigilance over social media sites as about three in four new Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) supporters are recruited online, Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said.
He told Parliament yesterday that strict monitoring of online activity was necessary as a large proportion of social media users are below 40 years old and fit the target group of ISIS recruiters.
“This is worrying. The police, through the antiterrorism unit, are monitoring not just several websites, but individuals on the police suspect list,” Datuk Seri Zahid was quoted as saying by The Malaysian Insider.
The minister added that it was very difficult to track their movements once they joined the group.
Noting the capture of the cities of Ramadi in Iraq and Palmyra in Syria in the past week, Mr Zahid said this has given ISIS militants “renewed spirit”.
The Malaysian authorities have pledged to fight ISIS and nip its influence in the bud.
“Every police officer has been trained to carry out his policing duties, which include monitoring social media that is used as a platform by terrorists to carry out their activities,” Malay Mail Online quoted Mr Zahid as saying.
He said the police have started an awareness campaign over the ISIS threat, especially on university campuses. He said public awareness is important as the militants have a strong regional and international network that militants from Malaysia and elsewhere use to expand their influence. “We know this network spans Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines… They aim to set up links not only in the region and all these areas mentioned, but also with all other international groups with the same ideology,” Mr Zahid said.
Since April 2013, 107 people have been arrested on suspicion of having ISIS links.