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Islam, Terrorism and Malaysia's Response

Malaysia can claim to know how to deal with terrorists, be they Muslims or non-Muslims. We have been successful so far and we believe we can successfully handle future problems. In fact we think that we can be of help in dealing with modern terrorism elsewhere. I am sure our approach is more likely to be successful than the brute force that is being applied now. We know the people we call terrorists may be regarded as freedom fighters by others. Even today terrorists are regarded by their own people as noble freedom fighters. And of course terrorists like Jomo Kenyatta, Mugabe, Nujoma, Mandela are now acknowledged as legitimate leaders in their countries.

However, whether people are fighting a noble cause or not, there are certain acts which they may not perpetrate. Exploding bombs in public places and killing innocent people cannot be accepted. Holding civilians to ransom or as hostages cannot be accepted. Poisoning food, medicine or water supply cannot be accepted. These are acts of terror and anyone committing these acts must be regarded as terrorist by everyone, irrespective of the cause they are fighting for, irrespective of their religion, race or creed. And once they are defined as terrorists it is the duty of everyone, every country, to hunt them down and bring them to justice.

Malaysia's response to the latest manifestation of terrorism is not only to act against our own potential terrorists, but to seek to define terrorism and terrorists so that there is no ambiguity and everyone will be able to fight against them. We should not seek to avenge particular killings of innocent people. We should seek to fight all terrorists everywhere, and we should fight them not just by direct action but more by winning the hearts and minds of the people, so as to reduce support for acts of terrorism and to reduce the attraction of acts of terror for those who see no means of redress for their own sufferings.