Nabbed under ISA
Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein today revealed that 10 people have been recently nabbed under the Internal Security Act for alleged terrorist links.
“All of them were involved terrorism and had a network with international terrorist organisations,” he said, but declined to elaborate.
Hishammuddin (right) said the government could not divulge more because of the severity of the alleged terrorist threat and the involvement of international agencies.
“But I can confirm 10 have been detained for terrorism and there is a international link to it. If we hadn’t acted quickly, it would have affected the security of our country,” he said.
He said most of those detained had only recently arrived in Malaysia and have yet to “establish themselves” here.
Hishammuddin added that “all 10 are involved in international terrorism” but would not reveal whether they had planned or carried out attacks. He also declined to say when and where they were arrested.
He would not say which intelligence organisations had helped in the arrests, but said that “if they are with an international terror organisation and if they are caught in Malaysia, then we will take action on them.”
Were there more arrests?
Hishammuddin said this during a press conference after being quizzed by reporters about a lawyer and NGO’s claim that up to 50 people were detained under the ISA last Friday.
Earlier, a prominent human rights lawyer and the Abolish ISA Movement (GMI) pressure group alleged that up to 50 individuals were nabbed since last week during an apparent counter-terrorism blitz.
Lawyer Edmund Bon (right) posted updates on his Facebook page that the 50 were detained last Thursday and taken to Bukit Aman federal police headquarters.
Bon claimed that 38 were released the following morning, while the rest are still under detention.
When contacted, Bon said he has spoken to some of those who have been released and is trying to gain access to remaining detainees.
Initially, Home Ministry chief-secretary Mahmood Adam denied Bon’s allegation.
“If there are any ISA arrests, it would have to come through the Home Ministry and we have not received any such detention orders,” he said, when met in Putrajaya.
Mahmood (left) said the police routinely apprehend criminals and was unaware how Bon’s figure of 50 detainees came about.
“In the case of the attacks on places of worship, only 19 people have been remanded and (even then) it is not an ISA issue,” he added.
In recent months, the government have been trying to soften its position on the ISA, which has been widely criticised because it allows indefinite detention without trial.
Other than pledging to amend the law in the next sitting of Parliament, the government has also released a large number of detainees over the past few months.
Government officials said there were now 25 people, including the 10 new detainees, being held under the ISA. Detainees are typically held at the Kamunting detention centre in Taiping, Perak.
Anti-ISA group slams arrests
Rights activists condemned the new detentions and said that suspected militants should face the normal justice system.
“We oppose the new arrests. We are against detention without trial and the use of ISA on these 10 individuals. We want the government to charge or release them,” Abolish ISA Movement coordinator E Nalini told AFP.
“If the government has evidence that they pose a threat to national security, please bring them to court and put them through an open trial, don’t use ISA on Malaysian citizen or any other individuals.”
In September last year, five alleged Jemaah Islamiah members were released from ISA detention. The government said they had been rehabilitated after spending between two and seven years behind bars without trial.