The government is keeping a close watch on possible influx of Islamic State (IS) members to the country if the current offensive attacks on the terrorist group’s strongholds in Mosul, Iraq proved successful.
Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said his ministry (Mindef) and the military were keeping an eye on the development in Iraq and Syria.
He said Putrajaya was anxious that IS members could flee to the Asean region in large numbers if Iraqi forces successfully flushed out the terrorists and took control of Mosul and other areas.
“We are worried that the IS members might come here and it won’t be a small number. It will be thousands of them,” Hishammuddin told newsmen at Parliament today when asked on the offensive action launched by Iraq in an effort to cripple the group.
The minister said the IS threat emphasised on the importance of trilateral relationship with Indonesia and the Philippines.
“We need to ensure we can get as many intel as possible to strengthen and to protect our region,” said Hishammuddin, adding that the three countries had discussed the issue during a meeting held in the United States recently.
In the meeting, the three countries decided to invite the Brunei Defence Ministry to join in the effort.
Iraqi offensive against the IS is expected to be the biggest attack since the US launched theirs in 2003.
Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has announced on state television that operations to retake Mosul from IS had begun.
It was reported that Iraqi federal and allied forces have been tightening the noose on Mosul, the jihadist organisation’s main stronghold in the country, for months.
According to AFP, they recently retook key positions around Qayyarah, a town some 60 kilometres (35 miles) south of Mosul, setting the stage for a final push on the IS northern bastion.