(NST File Pix) Counterterrorism expert Andrin Raj says Malaysian authorities must beef up preparedness to counter any such threat to the country, public and critical infrastructure.

KUALA LUMPUR: Security experts believe the likelihood of a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives (CBRNe) threat within the Southeast Asian region is now “realistic”.

Counterterrorism expert Andrin Raj said the CBRNe threat was being widely discussed among security experts, adding that Malaysian authorities must beef up preparedness to counter any such threat to the country, public and critical infrastructure.

“With the findings of radioactive materials in Malaysia (such as) the stolen iridium and chemical-biological substances, Malaysia seems to be high on the international media’s focus, as well as that of foreign intelligence agencies who have issued warnings of terrorism, kidnappings and the possible platform for CBRNe in the Asean region.

“(The seeming) complacency of security agencies in the region has led to a full-scale CBRNe threat by terrorist and rogue states using the region as a trial base,” Andrin, who is Southeast Asia regional director for the International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals, told the New Straits Times.

His warning came in the wake of the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the outcast and exiled half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, on Feb 13.

Jong-nam was killed in klia2 by two women who used the highly-lethal VX nerve agent against him.

Andrin’s reference to iridium was in connection with the theft of equipment from an oil and gas exploration company in Klang just a few days before Jong-nam’s assassination.

The equipment was later found dismantled, causing dismay as it contained the radioactive material iridium-192.

Following this, Andrin had issued a similar warning, saying that iridium-192 was highly sought after by terror groups, such as Islamic State, which used it to make “dirty bombs”.

Yesterday, Andrin said specialised training should already be in place by the authorities to mitigate the risk and threat of CBRNe.

“Up-to-date CBRNe testing equipment, monitoring equipment (should already be in place and) enforcement agencies must be highly-trained in addressing the threat.”

He added that terrorist groups such as IS would be more than willing to take advantage of and use chemical and radioactive substances to attack the government, public and critical infrastructure.

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