Terror warnings for travelers to Malaysian Islands have persisted after Britain and Australia issued terror alerts in February for their citizens, respectively. The alerts came following fears of possible terrorist attacks in and around the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. British tourists in particular had been cautioned against visiting Malaysia’s east coast islands owning to the increased threat of kidnappings and other criminal activities.
In response to the heightened alerts, a Malaysian Foreign Ministry spokesman had emphasized that all foreign missions in the country’s capital will be kept abreast of emerging security related developments.
“We also acknowledged the fact that foreign missions are at liberty to provide their own assessment of the security situation in their host countries albeit the fact that it may not be accurate or give a true reflection of the situation.”
In January, the Malaysian police said the country was on its highest-ever security alert. Its counter terrorism officers have cautioned against a seemingly surging ISIS influence in the country and expressed grave apprehensions about its impact on the more vulnerable elements of Malaysian society. In recent times, it has been reported that thousands of young men from Far East countries, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines have been volunteering to join the terror outfit actively engaged in the Middle East.
In January, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak introduced immediate security measures in the midst of an enhanced terror alert across Southeast Asia following bombings in neighbouring Indonesia and the arrests of suspected suicide bombers in the capital, Kuala Lumpur. A 28-year-old man, in addition to three other suspects, was arrested in the same month with evidence linking them to ISIS. These men had, as per Malaysia’s police, confessed to plotting a terrorist attack on the country.
According to counter-terrorism expert Tomas Olivier, Malaysia’s security threat is not necessarily restricted to the Islamic State.
“The presence of Abu Sayyaf, the Moro National Liberation Front and many insurgent (terrorist) organizations in the south of the Philippines have always posed a threat to Malaysia’s northern state of Sabah, and now, given their allegiance to IS, they also threaten the capital Kuala Lumpur.”
Malaysia is home to nearly 900 magnificent islands, ranging from the bustling and accessible, to the tranquil and secluded. Boasting one of the most awe-inspiring and pristine beaches marvelously caressed by sparkling turquoise waters, these idyllic getaways are amongst the most prized tourist destinations on the planet. The islands are divided into those of the western peninsula, the eastern peninsula, and the islands around Borneo.
The east coast is predominantly rural, somewhat impoverished, as well as largely conservative in outlook compared to other parts of the country, hence the reason the warnings issued to foreigners in view of safety concerns in this region are more pronounced. Nonetheless, the east offers prime attractions for travelers with some of its most captivating and untouched islands, many of them famous for their extremely rare and rich underwater paradise that remains a tempting lure for scuba-divers flocking in from all across the world.
According to an updated United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advisement, travel warnings for British tourists persist for Malaysia more particularly for all islands off the coast of eastern Sabah. According to the report, there is a significant security threat for foreigners traveling to that part of the country owing to increased instances of kidnapping as well as other dangerous crimes reported in this region recently.
The advisement continues to remain in effect as of now for the nearly 400,000 British nationals who visit Malaysia annually.
[Image via Shutterstock]