Reported killed in Syria, Malaysian jihadist gets some support at home

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 21 — Supporters of the jihadist cause in Syria lauded the death of a Muslim fighter from Selangor, known only as Mat Soh, who could soon become the first documented Malaysian killed while fighting in strife-torn Syria.

The 52-year-old jihadist fighter, also known by his nom de guerre Abu Turab, allegedly died from shelling in strife-torn Syria around 2pm local time yesterday, while defending the town of Arzeh with several other jihadist fighters.

Photos of Mat Soh’s remains and the video of his burial have been shared by hundreds of supporters on social media and blogs. Some congratulated him on his “successful transaction”.

The “transaction” is an euphemism which refers to a verse in Quran detailing a “contract”, where Muslims are offered a place in Paradise in return for fighting and dying in the cause of Allah.

According to local daily The Star, Malaysia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry is verifying reports that a Malaysian was killed and two more were injured while engaged in militant activities in Syria.

Screenshot of the 52-year-old jihadist fighter who allegedly died from shelling in strife-torn Syria yesterday.
Screenshot of the 52-year-old jihadist fighter who allegedly died from shelling in strife-torn Syria yesterday.

Fellow jihadist Akel Zainal, formerly famous for being the drummer in 90s rock band Ukays, said on his Facebook page that a car was seen coming from Arzeh carrying Mat Soh’s remains, while he himself was on his way to the town.

“I had the opportunity to kiss his cheek and said ‘we will meet again there brother, wait for me there brother’,” wrote Akel in Malay, referring to the afterlife.

“He had never frowned on me, and was always cheerful among me and my friends. He always took the opportunity to touch my leg and hands anytime we were together,” he said in a post which received over 2,000 likes.

Another fighter, calling himself Abu Nuroin, said that Mat Soh had been buried in a cemetery reserved for martyrs in the town of Kafer Zeta.

He said that there were three other fighters presumed to be Malaysian injured during the attack in Arzeh — Abu Aisyah, Abu Tolhah, and Abu Ain.

“Ustaz Lotfi is safe,” added Abu Nuroin, referring to former Kedah PAS member Mohd Lotfi Ariffin who was sacked from the party for his jihadist activities.

In June, Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said 15 nationals were allegedly killed in Syria after joining in terrorist and jihadist activities with the al-Qaeda offshoot, according to the Permanent Representative of Syria to the United Nations in New York.

Malaysian factory worker Ahmad Tarmimi Maliki, suspected of being a member of IS, was believed to have been the suicide bomber who killed 25 members of an Iraqi police team in May.

IS, formerly known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), made headlines the past few days for brutally beheading American journalist James Foley on video.

In Malaysia, police intelligence warned this month that Malaysians, who joined the Islamist militant group Islamic State (IS) to launch strikes in Iraq and Syria, are now training their sights on their home government and several other targets in the country.

Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin, assistant director-general of the Malaysian police counter-terrorism division, said 19 suspected local militants have been arrested between April and June this year while they were on their way to Turkey and Syria for training and support from IS under the guise of “humanitarian work”.

The group was planning to establish a hardline Southeast Asian Islamic caliphate which would include Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore, he said in the English daily The Star this week.

Putrajaya has classified ISIL as a terrorist organisation.

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