Zahid: UK wants to learn from Malaysia’s successful rehab model for militants

The United Kingdom has shown interest in tapping into Malaysia’s model for the deradicalisation of militants and religious groups, which has a 95 per cent success rate, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has said.

Zahid, who is also the home minister, was reported saying by local daily Utusan Malaysia that the UK also plans to send its officers to visit Malaysia’s militant rehabilitation centre.

“The UK has different backgrounds and they are interested in our model because as an Islamic country, we have more experience and knowledge in facing these militant and radical groups,” he was quoted saying yesterday in London during a four-day working visit focusing on security, terrorism and immigration issues.

Zahid said Malaysia’s deradicalisation programme, which was carried out since 1948 to counter the threats posed by communists then, has been further refined following new counter-terrorism experiences to its current mode with 18 fields.

This programme involves the police, the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim), the Prisons Department of Malaysia, Muslim non-governmental organisations, Islamic scholars from institutions of higher learning and pondok (Islamic schools) that have the skill “to correct wrong faith”, Zahid said.

The deputy prime minister said the US, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and all Asean member countries have also expressed commitment to learn from Malaysia’s model of rehabilitating militants.

Zahid was also reported saying that he had agreed with the UK security agency to use the word Daesh instead of Islamic State (IS) to describe the terrorist group in Syria and Iraq, as the IS term gave the wrong impression of Islam which does not carry teachings for its followers to be terrorists.

“I also ask the media to use the Daesh term to replace IS terrorists,” he said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was recently reported telling the United Nations in New York that Malaysia was leading the Asian region in combating terrorism, including the spreading of IS beliefs.