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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Security guards a prime target for IS to recruit

Security guards in Malaysia have become the prime target for Islamic State (IS) to recruit into its terror ranks.

This was revealed by the lead police officer on counter-terrorism in comments to NST, published today.

Two major attractions to the terror group Islamic State is the poor quality of the vetting of security guards here and their access to weapons.

NST said Bukit Aman’s Special Branch Counter-terrorism division principal assistant director Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay told the newspaper that security guards have joined the list of “Tier One recruits” prized by IS.

The terror group also hoped to recruit soldiers and policemen for their access to weapons too. But the security guards are obviously the easier target as security companies do not vet them thoroughly enough.

Coming on the news of separate arrests of two armed security guards with links to IS — one of them was working for Malaysia Airlines — the Home Affairs ministry has warned companies it will revoke the licences of those who haven’t been following its vetting procedures “to the tee”.

The two security guards, who worked in separate companies, were both arrested in Kuantan. One of the guards, 37, was working for Malaysia Airlines while another, 32, had been working at a private company.

A source told NST in a separate report that the security guard who worked for MAS had full access to MAS aircraft, including the cockpits and that his job scope included making sure the airline’s flight operations were safe against pilferage, sabotage and hijacking.

Ayob said the two men could have posed a serious risk as they had access to strategic locations and were heavily armed.

“The guard we arrested in Kuantan had a ‘Trusty PM 4’ shotgun. What if he received instructions from an IS leader to shoot randomly in a public area? We may end up with a situation similar to Turkey,” he said, alluding to the deadly New Year’s Eve attack on a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey, in which 39 people were killed.

He blasted the poor quality of the vetting by security companies, adding that they do not seem to have realised that the situation in the country has changed.

He said: “We must understand that the current security situation is different now, so we must also improve our systems to better safeguard the public.”

He said that apart from “normal checks” which focus on an applicant’s background and criminal record, security companies must also scrutinise an applicant’s family background and keep an eye out for any changes in their guards’ behaviour.

“It is the supervisors’ job to monitor who they are friends with, including on social media.

“Carry out spot checks, check their phones. There is always the possibility that a security guard given the all-clear before is now a potential threat,” Ayob said.

In the same report, deputy home minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed also said security companies must make sure their guards have been thoroughly screened before they are deployed, especially those manning high-risk areas.

“It is these security companies who employ the guards, and when police monitor them, they would be in the system. We have seen it ourselves in many similar cases, such as a guard manning a school, murdering a student.

“The procedures for vetting security guards are already spelt out by the ministry. They should be followed to a tee,” he was quoted as saying.

He warned that security companies which didn’t do this risk having their licenses revoked.

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