Malaysia

Overview:  Malaysia sustained counterterrorism efforts to monitor, arrest, deport, prosecute, and rehabilitate suspected terrorists and supporters of terrorist groups in 2022.  Malaysian law enforcement and other officials cooperated with the United States and regional partners to detect and disrupt terrorist travel, deny safe haven for terrorist networks, and prevent violent extremism.  The country is a transit point and, to a lesser extent, a destination country for members of terrorist groups, including ISIS, Abu Sayyaf Group, and al-Qa’ida.  Malaysia promotes a whole-of-government approach to counter radicalization and recruitment.

2022 Terrorist Incidents:  There were no terrorist incidents reported in Malaysia in 2022.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  The Malaysian government did not make any changes to its security-related laws, including the Security Offense Special Measures Act, the Prevention Against Terrorism Act, or the Sedition Act in 2022.  Human rights organizations advocated for a repeal of the laws, expressing concern that provisions that allow detention without trial are inconsistent with widely accepted practices and standards.  The government announced plans to create a single border control agency, which will consolidate the functions of more than 20 government agencies.  It also was developing a new electronic national immigration database to replace the current, 20-year-old, system.

The Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) Special Branch Counterterrorism Unit has the lead counterterrorism law enforcement role for detecting, deterring, and preventing acts of terrorism and terrorist travel in the country.  The RMP reported two terrorism-related arrests in 2022.  There were no media reports of prosecution of terrorism-related suspects.

Foreign Terrorist Fighters:  Malaysian authorities reported one Malaysian repatriated from Syria in 2022.  The government has reportedly repatriated 18 foreign terrorist fighters and related family members to Malaysia from Syria and Iraq since 2019.  The returnees included 14 adults and four children, with eight of the adults serving criminal sentences, according to media reports.  Malaysian officials estimate that about 50 of its citizens remain in SyriaThe Malaysian government allowed its citizens to return, provided they participate in a government-run rehabilitation program.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Malaysia is a member of FATF and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering.  Its FIU, the Financial Intelligence Unit Malaysia, is a member of the Egmont Group.  There were no significant changes in 2022.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2022 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.  

Countering Violent Extremism:  The Malaysian government prepared a draft national action plan on preventing and countering violent extremism in 2022 and expects to finalize it in 2023.  It will provide an integrated and coordinated approach to the government’s efforts to counter violent extremism, according to officials.

In 2022 the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Southeast Asia Regional Center for Counterterrorism (SEARCCT) actively promoted a whole-of-society approach to preventing and countering violent extremism.  SEARCCT organized 28 programs for government officials, academics, civil society organizations, media, and youth in 2022.  These efforts included public awareness campaigns, capacity building workshops, webinars, and publications on detecting and countering radicalization, crisis communications, and cybersecurity.  SEARCCT produced a podcast, video clips, digital campaigns, and public service announcements on counterterrorism narratives to encourage youth engagement and prevent radicalization.  Episodes have been published in both Malay and English.  SEARCCT officials participated in several multilateral and UN-organized regional and international events.

International and Regional Cooperation:  Malaysia continued to support counterterrorism efforts in regional and multilateral organizations, including the Global Counterterrorism Forum.  Malaysian officials participated in numerous counterterrorism events hosted by the UN, ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and the East Asia Summit.

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