The police announced on 7 February that an unnamed Islamic State (IS) “commander” had been detained on arrival in Malaysia on 31 January and deported to his home country in the Middle East five days later. The fact that he was expelled rather than charged suggests that the man was a facilitator for the group, engaged in fundraising or recruitment, rather than involved in planning attacks. The alleged militant may simply have been transiting through the country, taking advantage of the fact that citizens of a wide range of countries can enter Malaysia without a visa.
There is only limited support for Salafist-jihadism in Malaysia
Criminal gangs present a credible kidnap threat to wealthy businesspeople in Malaysia and the minister may have been hoping to link this issue to IS in the hope of intensifying concerns about political Islam – thereby aggravating the tensions between PAS and its non-Islamist allies, particularly the Democratic Action Party (DAP, which is largely Chinese backed and pursues a secular agenda). Suggestions of an IS threat are likely also intended to justify the continued usage of the draconian Sedition Act to detain critics of the Government, despite promises last year that it would be repealed.