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Malaysia PM Defends Strict Counterterrorism Laws

President of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak inspects a ceremonial guard of honor during the opening ceremony of the party's general assembly in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said his country's new anti-terrorism laws are a necessary weapon against what he said are "very real" threats by the Islamic State group.

Najib offered the defense Monday in Kuala Lumpur at the start of a two-day international conference on violent extremism.

The new laws have come under fire from human rights activists over the return of a decades-old practice that allows police to detain suspects without trial.

Najib said he understood the need to maintain civil liberties, but pointed out that "there are no civil liberties under Daesh," using an alternative name for IS. "The best way to uphold civil liberties is to ensure the safety of the nation."

IS video

A video surfaced Sunday from a group professing allegiance with IS, warning that it would carry out attacks in Malaysia if police continued its crackdown on IS supporters.

Police arrested seven suspected terrorists authorities say belonged to an IS cell that was planning terrorist attacks across Malaysia. The men were carrying bullets, books on jihad, and Islamic State paraphernalia.

A suspected militant believed to be planning an attack on Kuala Lumpur was arrested on January 15,

It is illegal in Malaysia to support IS, or for its citizens to go overseas for military training.