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Islamic State supporters in Malaysia pledge revenge for arrests

Bangkok: The south-east Asian wing of Islamic State has threatened revenge for the arrests of a growing number of its militants in Malaysia, prompting a further tightening of security in the Muslim-majority nation.

"If you catch us we will only increase in number but if you let us be, we will be closer to our goal of bringing back the rule of khalifah [caliph]," Malay-speaking militants warned in a video posted on an IS-sanctioned website.

 "We will never bow down to the democratic system of governance, as we will only follow Allah's rules," they said, in a transcript of the video published by Malaysia's Star Online. 

The threat came as Justice Minister Michael Keenan told a conference on violent extremism in Kuala Lumpur that thousands of foreign fighters who have flocked to Syria and Iraq have produced a "new generation of terrorists – many with the skills, experience and international connections required to threaten international security for years".

"Regional challenges, such as the flow of foreign fighters and the transfer of illicit funds, must be addressed collectively," he told the conference attended by ministers and officials from 19 countries.

Mr Keenan said responses to the threat of radicalisation must be comprehensive and innovative, pointing to a small but growing number of jail inmates who are showing signs of radicalisation.

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Prisons were a priority area for the government in rolling out de-radicalisation programs aimed at prevention and rehabilitation, he said.

More than 1800 prison staff had been trained to recognise and report indicators of radicalisation, with more being trained, he said.

"On release, we prepare these individuals to reintegrate into the community by providing psychological, employment and education support. We also offer social and religious support by offering individual mentoring with trained imams."

There was a prison lecture series open to all Muslim prisoners to promote credible, mainstream religious principles and to ensure that radical ideas did not take root among the prison population, he said.

These lectures focus on core Islamic teachings and practices, including condemning terrorism and violence.

The one-minute "revenge" video, showing fighters from the so-called Katibah Nusantara (Malay Archipelago brigade), was posted as Malaysian police arrested seven Malaysian nationals they accused of plotting to attack strategic locations across the country.

Police also arrested four suspected militants last week, including an insurance salesman they alleged was plotting a lone-wolf attack on several popular entertainment venues in Kuala Lumpur.

More than 500 Indonesians and dozens of Malaysians are believed to have travelled to the Middle East to fight with IS.

Police in Kuala Lumpur said the latest arrested suspects, aged from 26 to 50, had received orders to carry out attacks from the leaders of Katibah Nusantara, including Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian militant named as the mastermind of the January 14 attack in Jakarta.

They said one of the seven suspects had received orders from Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, a Malaysian national who joined a Malay-speaking combat unit in Syria and was seen in a video of the beheading of a Syrian man in 2015.

Police said the suspects included a security guard, a GPS technician and a factory store supervisor. They said they had seized bullets, books on jihad, Islamic State flags and propaganda videos.

Malaysia's counter-terrorism head Ayob Khan acknowledged the video, telling reporters security agencies had stepped up their vigilance around the country.

"It proves that IS, especially the Katibah group, views our country as secular, and as such makes the government and the people its targets," he said.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, facing a barrage of calls to resign over a corruption scandal, opened the Kuala Lumpur conference by defending his government's draconian anti-terrorism laws, under which more than 120 people have been detained over the past two years.

"We will not wait for [an] outrage to take place and then take action," he said.

with AAP

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