Malaysia’s transport minister said Saturday 50,000 people in the country of 30 million support the Islamic State group. Liow Tiong said the figure is based on police intelligence estimates, Al Jazeera reported. Meanwhile, about 100 Malaysians have already gone to fight on behalf of armed terrorist organizations, such as the militant group formerly known as either ISIL or ISIS.
"If only 1 percent of these sympathizers turn radical and if they attack any part of Malaysia, we will be in trouble," Liow said at a conference in the country's capital Kuala Lumpur.
About two dozen supporters of the Islamic State group have been charged in courts in Malaysia. Nations around the world have been on high alert since the terrorist attacks in and around Paris last month and the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, this month. The militant group claimed responsibility in the former case, and at least one of the shooting suspects pledged allegiance to the group in the latter case.
The Islamic State group has indicated it wants to expand its operations in Southeast Asia, and Malaysia's authorities have suggested an attack in the country linked to the extremist group is only a matter of time, the Malaysian Insider reported. The militant group has used the perceived damage U.S. foreign policy has caused in Syria and Iraq to radicalize Muslims in Malaysia.
— Malaysian Insider (@tm_insider) December 6, 2015
Because of reports of imminent terrorist threats, Malaysian soldiers were deployed last month before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit, which was attended by U.S. President Barack Obama. The move came days after a leaked memo said Islamic State group militants had met with representatives of insurgent groups based in the Philippines. The memo detailed how 10 suicide bombers were to have been placed throughout Kuala Lumpur. The attacks were not carried out, but the would-be suicide bombers reportedly underwent military training in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.