Veiled women, reportedly wives and members of the Islamic State, walk under the supervision of a female fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) at al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria in this Feb. 17. Malaysia has said its citizens wanting to go home will not be barred from returning. (Photo by Bulent Kilic/AFP)
Malaysians who joined terror groups abroad are not barred from returning home as long as they submit to rehabilitation, a top police official says.
“Not everyone will be detained, but all returnees will be interrogated,” said Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, principal assistant director of the federal police's Counter-Terrorism Division.
All returnees will be scrutinized by the security agencies, clerics and psychologists “to evaluate their ideology and psychological make-up,” the senior policeman said.
His comments come as governments around the world confront the difficulty of dealing with citizens who joined the so-called Islamic State group in Syria.
Thousands of foreign Islamic State jihadists and sympathizers detained in camps across Syria and Iraq found themselves disowned and threatened with prosecution by their home governments.
"We will compare intelligence we received from friendly foreign services. If there is evidence that a returnee was involved in Islamic State's militant activities, he or she would be charged in court,” Ayob said.So far 11 Malaysians have returned to the country. Eight men were charged in court and convicted. The remaining three were a woman and two children aged 3 and 5 years. The woman underwent a government-ordered rehabilitation program before being allowed to return home. She continues to be monitored, the local media quoted Ayob as saying. In an interview with Al Jazeera, the father of a 29-year-old Malaysian woman identified only as Lidia, said she left Malaysia with her husband and then infant son in 2014 to travel to Syria and she is now seeking his help to return home.He told the broadcaster that she had sent him a text message two weeks ago from an area taken over by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) asking for his help to facilitate her return.Ayob confirmed Lidia, now at a Kurdish-controlled camp in Hasakah, Syria, with her two sons aged two and four, is one of 13 Malaysians in Syria seeking to return home, but said facilitating their return was "difficult" as it involved many parties from different countries.