THE recent worry over the presence of a group linked to the Islamic State in Malaysia and the potential larger threat of terrorism in the country deserves to be matters of concern and priority, but our collective capacity and strength in counter-terrorism efforts both in preventive and mitigation capabilities are among the world’s best.

While there has been a reasonable cause for concern, the public ought to be reassured and cognisant of our true capacities by our authorities, especially the ever-diligent and very much respected capabilities of our esteemed intelligence community.

The authorities have been well and fully aware beforehand of the attempts by the group Identified as Al Malaka Media Centre to expand its influence in the country.

Continuous close ties and cooperation with our international security and counter-terrorism partners have also reinforced our joint detection and preventive measures in thwarting, limiting and monitoring the scope of the activities and intent of any groups that would pose a threat to our national security.

The Nordic Counter-Terrorism Network’s Cyber Counter-Terrorism Division has highlighted the group’s radical ideologies and the potential to trigger indiscriminate small-scale acts of violence in the country, which also involves the association with IS media outlets in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Our established and highly respected and efficient counter-terrorism panel comprises an integrated domain across different enforcement agencies from the police to the military, that spans a wide and holistic spectrum of early detection, prevention and enforcement capacities, which have been pivotal in securing public and national safety and interests.

It covers the whole collective arena that involves the cyber and digital domain and other areas that will serve to block any attempts or threats to public safety.

Past threats and attempts have been thwarted, and early and strategic actions have been taken through our integration and pooling of resources and expertise across different dimensions.

In the ever-evolving nature and scope of measures and strategies employed by the growing structure and reach of the threats posed by these extremist and terrorist groups, our enforcement teams have always been, with passion and persistent dedication, working tirelessly in cooperation with other international agencies in preventing the activities of these groups.

Intelligence sharing and deeply integrated cooperation with allies and partners and international enforcement agencies, including Interpol, have bolstered our resilience and capacity in counter-terrorism efforts.

This is only possible based on mutual trust and respect, and recognition of our established success and impact on the field, which has facilitated platforms of data sharing and joint action.

We have been playing an extensive and crucial role at the international level in creating a comprehensive and integrated culture and action plan that is forward-looking and inclusive in managing the highly complex issue of extremism and terrorism, looking at them from different perspectives and approaches.

Malaysia is supportive of all pillars of actions contained in the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

It has responded positively to the international call for cooperation to combat terrorism by strengthening its legal framework to implement the 20 international counter-terrorism conventions and protocols.

We are now a party to 11 of the international counter-terrorism conventions and protocols, and a party to the Asean Convention on Counter-Terrorism, sharing our expertise and playing our part in regional and global efforts to fight terrorism and the far-reaching ripple implications.

The importance of winning the “hearts and minds” in the psychological war against terrorism is crucial and is reflected in our strength including our very own Southeast Asia Regional Centre on Counter-Terrorism in continuing to engage with youths through counter-messaging initiatives.

We are also well respected and highly sought after in the field of deradicalisation and rehabilitation of extremists and those that have been misled and indoctrinated by extremist elements, with which we have shared our expertise and strength with our partners and international security friends the world over.

Deradicalisation is a key element of Malaysia’s counter-terrorism and violent extremism strategy, with the potential to reduce the further spread of militant propaganda which poses threat to the social stability

Our initiatives in this regard aim to address radicalism due to religious misconceptions, with the specific purpose of rehabilitating and subsequently reintegrating militant detainees into society.

Malaysia also remains vigilant to the emerging threats of cyberattacks against critical national infrastructure and of bioterrorism, all of which create future potential risks which are exacerbated by growing state-led and individual-driven pursuits to achieve both geopolitical and national goals.

The swift nature and growing sophistication of the various strategies and measures used to extend the influence-seeking propaganda or any attempts to build a greater network and presence are proving to be more difficult, especially in capitalising on technology in serving their agenda, but our authorities have always strived to be a step ahead.

We remain competent in our preventive strength and in our monitoring and intelligence gathering on threats to our national security, both in traditional and non-traditional scopes.

Often, these crucial works done by our respected teams are not known to the public at large and thus contributing to this systemic lack of awareness and appreciation of the ever-critical efforts carried out to preserve our security and safety and public harmony.

This lack of understanding and appreciation has also contributed to the wrong perception, narrative and judgment on the capabilities of our anti-terrorism capabilities and has also created lingering doubts among the public on our strength and capacities in coping with the more integrated nature of these threats.

More understanding and public awareness need to be instilled in our assured and respected enforcement authorities, and their crucial role, responsibilities and expertise, especially our Special Branch Unit and Counter-Terrorism Division.

The public needs to play a greater role in supporting joint counter-terrorism efforts and the support from the government has to be stepped up in ensuring that our professional teams receive their best tools and capacities in nipping the non-traditional threats in the bud.

We have been enjoying the fruits of the labour of our great professionals in our anti-terrorism and intelligence community, being able to reap the dividend of peace, harmony, stability and freedom to enjoy our daily life in our blessed country.

All these are due to the tireless hard work of the men and women behind the scenes, and it is high time they deserve recognition, appreciation, support and awareness from all Malaysians.