The Islamic State (IS) group’s use of ‘wolf packs’ — small cells of radicalised people who are sympathetic towards its ideology — replicates most of the terrorist groups in Indonesia.
Southeast Asia regional director for the International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals (IACSP) Andrin Raj said the method of operation was not unfamiliar to the region and had been going on for some time in Indonesia.
Each wolf pack usually comprised six to seven members, who are not linked to other militant cells. They were compartmentalised as such so that one group being taken down by the authorities would not compromise others operating in the same country or the region.
“This wolf pack modus operandi is not new. They have been operating within the region for some time now and they resemble the likes of Indonesian wolfpack terror cells.
“The groups are linked to Indonesian IS through Telegram chat groups, which has allowed them to copy the Indonesian modus operandi,” Andrin told the New Straits Times.
He said this method was effective as it involved fewer members who could inflict enormous damage in terror attacks.
“They are not connected to prior structures of jihadist groups operating within the region…some of these jihadist cells are actually sympathiser groups branding themselves as IS.”
Andrin urged the authorities to ascertain the identities of these groups as the United Nations Security Council had identified Malaysia as a conduit for terror cells in the past decade.
“The threat was never really curtailed by the previous administration. The authorities should investigate any links associated with far right groups or political parties, which may also be instigating these threats.”
Andrin said the emergence of wolf packs coincided with a reemergence of Jemaah Islamiyah, which had come under the limelight in Indonesia.
He was commenting on the arrests of four men earlier this month. The four had planned large-scale attacks on non-Muslim places of worship and the assassination of high-profile individuals to “avenge” the death of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim.
Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Bador, who revealed the matter on Monday, said police were looking for three others believed to be involved in planning the attacks.
Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division operatives arrested the men, including two Rohingyas, in four operations on May 5 and 7 in Terengganu and the Klang Valley.
Police received intelligence about an IS “wolf pack” cell planning to launch large-scale attacks on Christian, Hindu and Buddhist places of worship in the Klang Valley, as well as entertainment outlets.
In explaining why terrorists targeted non-Muslim places of worship or events, such as the foiled attempt to attack the 2017 Better Beer Festival in Kuala Lumpur, Andrin said: “The threat of jihadist ideology is perpetrated by radical and extremist Islamic beliefs.
“Such radical ideology is linked to Wahhabi and Salafi teachings that were misinterpreted, and this eventually led to an ideology that propagates violence.”
He said such beliefs were based on the Takfiri concept of Muslims accusing other Muslims of apostasy, as well as other misinterpretations of teachings from the Quran and hadith.