The Counterterrorism Division of the Royal Malaysian Police’s Special Branch revealed that they made a total of seven arrests in 2020 on individuals suspected to have links with terrorism activities, including Daesh. This was a drastic reduction in arrests when compared to the previous years, where 83 and 72 arrests were made in 2018 and 2019 respectively. The drop in arrests was largely due to the Movement Control Order (MCO) that was introduced last March as a national lockdown response to manage the Covid-19 pandemic. The MCO had limited people’s movements, which led to a decline in terrorism-related activities.
Meanwhile, in Washington DC, the United States military prosecutors finally filed charges in a military tribunal against members of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), Riduan ISamuddin (aka Hambali) along with two other Malaysians who aided him, Mohammed Nazir Lep and Mohammed Farik Amin. The three men are faced with various serious charges, including conspiracy, murder, attempted murder, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, terrorism, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, destruction of property, and accessory after the fact, all in violation of the law of war. They were captured in Thailand in 2003, and are currently being held in the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. At present, it is estimated that there are 40 Malaysian prisoners in Guantanamo.
In the Philippines, Rezky Fantasya Rullie (aka Cici and Nini Isaran) admitted that her involvement in terrorism activities was due to parental pressure. Her parents, Rullie Rian Zeke and Umi (aka Ulfah Andayani Saleh) were suicide bombers who were responsible for the 2019 attack on the Our Lady of Mont Carment Church in Jolo. Cici was also the wife to the Indonesian terrorist and facilitator, Andi Baso, who played a key role in transporting her along with her family to Jolo. Cici was arrested in October 2020 for plotting a suicide attack in Jolo. Cici’s case highlighted a worrying trend of family pressure in committing acts of terror.
Meanwhile, three members of the Philippine security forces were killed by the Maute group in Poona Piagapo, Lanao del Norte in the Southern Mindanao. The three men were on their way to the market in Baloi on motorcycles when they were ambushed by the Maute. This incident highlighted the group’s potential threat in the Lanao del Norte area, despite being reduced to less than 50 members.