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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 — Malaysian jihadists who joined terror group Islamic State to launch strikes in Iraq and Syria are now training their sights on their home government, according to police intelligence.
Home-ground followers of the al Qaeda offshoot, which gained control of territory in the two countries through armed warfare earlier this year, are looking to topple Putrajaya and replace the government with a fully Islamic government based on Shariah law, the South China Morning Post reported today, citing Bukit Aman’s counter-terrorism division senior official, Datuk Ayub Khan.
“During questioning, they [the suspects] admitted one of their main objectives was to attack the government,” Ayub was quoted saying by the English-language Hong Kong daily.
“They also discussed planning attacks against a disco, pubs in Kuala Lumpur and a Carlsberg factory in Petaling Jaya,” he added.
Police here have rounded up at least 19 people suspected of having links with the jihadist group in the last seven months but according to Ayub, the “real numbers” of those involved are likely higher.
Some 30 Malaysian Muslims left home to join the fight in Syria this year, putting the spotlight on growing extremism in a country that regularly touts its moderate image.
Malaysian factory worker Ahmad Tarmimi Maliki, suspected of being a member of the group — formerly called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) — was believed to have been the suicide bomber who killed 25 members of an Iraqi police team in May.
“Many” young Malay Muslims have been reeled in to join the militant activities abroad, drawn by the prospects of helping out Muslims in need and to fight and die in the name of Islam, according to former Perlis Mufti Datuk Dr Asri Zainul Abidin.
“I know lots of Malay youths have been asking me about it, either in person or through email. The offer is attractive to them,” he told Malay Mail Online last June.
“In Malaysia, there is an unhappiness over what is happening, a sense of injustice... many of these youths have a good intention, because they see Muslims in Syria being bombed and killed so they feel that they want to help out whatever way they can.”