By P Prem Kumar
KUALA LUMPUR (AA) – Malaysia has been placed on its highest security setting after intelligence reports suggested thousands of Daesh members may try and return home as a military operation closes in on Mosul — the last Daesh stronghold in northern Iraq.
Iraqi forces began advancing on the city early Monday, and by midday Kurdish peshmerga forces of the Kurdish Regional Government had reportedly captured 11 villages east of Mosul from the militants.
On Monday, Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the alert is in anticipation of the offensive proving successful.
“If the offensive attack is successful, Daesh members are expected to either return to their respective home countries or to [elsewhere in] the Southeast Asian region,” Hussein told reporters in the parliament lobby.
Malysia’s defense ministry and the Royal Malaysian Army have also been ordered to closely monitor developments in Iraq and Syria to dictate future actions, the minister added.
“We are worried that they [Daesh members] might come here and it won’t be a small number… it could be thousands,” Hussein stressed.
He added that via a trilateral relationship between Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, authorities would gather intelligence reports to strengthen and protect the region.
All three countries have been reported to have nationals fighting with Daesh.
Hussein said that during a recent meeting in the United States, the three countries had also decided to invite Brunei’s defense ministry to join in the effort to ensure wider coverage.
[Photo: Smoke rises at Mosul’s Bertela region after coalition forces’ air-strike over Deash targets during an operation to retake Iraq’s Mosul from Deash in Iraq on October 17, 2016. Photgrapher: Muhabiri Yunus Keleş/AA]