In the last two years, Malaysian police have been regularly arresting suspects believed to be potential militants with links to the IS. ― File pic
Malaysia has improved its ranking on a global terrorism benchmark slightly, placing 49 out of 162 countries in the latest report produced by Australia-based Institute of Economics and Peace.
The Global Terrorism Index 2015, released yesterday, seeks to measure the number of terrorist incidents, fatalities and casualties as well as damage to property in a country, and showed Malaysia was up from its 48th spot last year.
The downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over strife-torn Ukraine on July 17 last year from a missile that killed all 298 people on board was also attributed to an act of terrorism that put the incident as in fifth place out of 20 most fatal terrorist attacks in 2014.
The country’s score of 3.579 this year from 3.04 over 10 still puts Malaysia on the lower scale of the index in which zero denotes no impact of terrorism while the higher the number, the greater the impact of terrorism on the population.
But the report noted that Malaysia was among the top 17 source countries in the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that have seen its people fight for the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria.
Neighbouring Indonesia too was noted as among the top exporters of IS fighters and was ranked 16 on the index.
Regionally, the most terrifying country in Southeast Asia last year was Thailand, according to the index, taking over from the Philippines.
Malaysia’s northern neighbour recorded the most number of terrorist incidents domestically in 2014, which ranked it 10 out of 162 countries while the Philippines dropped two rungs to 11th place.
Singapore and Vietnam, along with 37 other countries tied at 124th spot with a score of zero, indicating no negative effects from terrorism.
The 2015 report findings said deaths from terrorism increased 80 per cent last year to its highest level ever as the global cost of terrorism reached all-time high at US$52.9 billion.
It said 32,658 people were killed by terrorism in 2014 compared to 18,111 in 2013.
One of the more worrying trends highlighted by this year’s report is the sharp increase in the number of countries suffering major terrorist activity.
There was a 120 per cent increase in the number of countries that suffered more than 500 deaths — 11 countries in 2014, increased from five countries in 2013.
Terrorism deaths were still concentrated in Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria, which accounted for 78 per cent of all deaths last year but Boko Haram, the Nigeria-based most deadly terrorist group in the world and IS were jointly responsible for 51 per cent of all claimed global fatalities in 2014, the report said.
In the last two years, Malaysian police have been regularly arresting suspects believed to be potential militants with links to the IS.
The latest arrest was earlier this month, where it was reported that eight Malaysian men believed linked to the IS were nabbed in a major police sting operation across three states.
To date, more than a hundred individuals suspected of militant activities have been nabbed by local police.
Malaysia has also reportedly been home or transit points to several suspected key figures in groups such as al Qaeda offshoot, Jemaah Islamiyah, the terror group blamed for the deadly 2002 Bali bombings and numerous other attacks as well as the Abu Sayyaf.
The southern Philippine rebels, said to behind a string of kidnap-for-ransom fund its activities, was reported yesterday to have beheaded its first Malaysian hostage, Bernard Then, 39.