With attention this week on the War on Terror, here are some items from Malaysia that may cause discomfort.
The local news service Bernama said last week that corruption among Malaysian immigration officers has allowed at least a thousand illegal immigrants a day to enter the country.
Border security in Malaysia is sensitive because the country has been linked to terrorism in Southeast Asia and beyond.
Two Malaysians held at Guantanamo since 2006 are headed for prosecution for their alleged involvement with terrorist groups. Mohamad Nazir Lep and Mohd Farik Amin, according to Bernama, have been linked to Al-Qaeda and its affiliate in Southeast Asia, Jemaah Islamiyah. In October 2002, Jemaah Islamiyah carried out the night club bombings in Bali that killed more than 200 people.
Regarding the two Malaysians held at Guantanamo, “U.S. intelligence believed that they were part of a suicide plot involving the hijack of a commercial passenger plane in a second-wave attack after September 11, in Los Angeles,” Bernama said.
A Malaysian government report last year said some immigration officers are living “a luxurious life on ill-gotten money, believed to be bribes ranging from RM2,000 ($675) daily to RM60,000 ($20,000) monthly for facilitating the entry and exit of illegals. . . .”
Bernama said the bribes allowed “the illegals to enter the country although their passports had false stamping or they were without any valid travel document.”
The Malaysian government thinks around 1,000 to 1,500 illegal immigrants have been entering the country every day, mainly workers commuting from neighboring countries.
In 2009, suspected Jemaah Islamiyah member Mas Selamat bin Kastari was recaptured in Malaysia after he escaped a year earlier from a Singapore jail. The Indonesia-born Singaporean was arrested in 2006 for allegedly plotting attacks on Singapore’s Changi Airport.
Thailand caused a diplomatic flap five years ago when it released photos that allegedly showed terrorist training camps in northern Malaysia.
Malaysia’s home-grown terrorist group, Kumpulan Mujahidin Malaysia, wants to create a pan-Southeast Asian Islamic state, stretching from Malaysia to Indonesia and the southern Philippines. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says many of KMM’s members have trained in terrorist camps in Afghanistan.
The Malaysian government said it’s dealing with border corruption by transferring officers to different posts. That, it says, will “break the link between the immigration officers and the culprits involved in bringing illegal migrants to this country.”