Malay IS video likely to draw more Malaysian recruits, analysts say

Islamic State child recruits are seen attending school in this picture released by the Abdullah Azzam academy. ― Picture taken from
Islamic State child recruits are seen attending school in this picture released by the Abdullah Azzam academy. ― Picture taken from

KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 — The Islamic State (IS) video of its Malay-speaking child recruits released last weekend will likely attract more Muslims from Malaysia to take up arms in Syria, analysts told Singapore’s The Straits Times.

In a report today, the daily quoted International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) lecturer Ahmad El-Muhammady as saying that the video, which features the lives of at least 20 Malay-speaking boys now in IS territory, will do more “damage” to Malaysian youths.

“Currently, ISIS is attracting youngsters who can speak rudimentary English. The majority of the youngsters in the rural towns cannot understand English or what is posted online,” the academician noted in the article.

“Videos in Malay are going to do much more damage to the youngsters here. They now see our people in Syria and would like to go there and find out themselves.

“They have been taught since (they were) young about the caliphate and are curious about what an Islamic state looks like,” he reportedly added.

Ahmad is also member of the Royal Malaysia Police Rehabilitation Programme for terrorist detainees.

Yesterday, the Singapore daily reported that IS released its maiden Malay-speaking video last weekend, featuring its child recruits praying, studying and engaging in weapons training in IS territory.

Entitled “Education in the Caliphate”, the two-minute footage is apparently a bid by the terrorist movement to expand its membership in Southeast Asia, which includes countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, among others.

Many Malaysians have already joined the IS struggle in Syria, with at least 50 identified so far by local authorities.

Reports have also claimed that some 70 Malaysians, who were either suspected of planning to join militant groups in Syria or had returned home from such trips, have been nabbed by the police.

Last year, Putrajaya tabled a rare White Paper document entitled “Addressing the threat of Islamic State” and mooted a new anti-terrorism law.

In the 19-page White Paper on IS, 39 Malaysians were said to have already joined militant groups in Syria — with 17 involved in IS, while 22 joined Ajnad al-Sham.

The government also plans to table preventive laws to stop the spread of militant activities here, including the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Foreign Fighters Act.

But according to The Straits Times, analysts believe the government here needs to do more than enact new legislation to combat terrorism.

“The government is not doing enough... We should have the Religious Rehabilitation Group and programmes similar to Singapore’s,” Ahmad Ghazali Abu Hassan, director of the Centre for Defence and International Security Studies, was quoted saying.

Bukit Aman Special Division Counter-Terrorism Unit chief assistant director Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, however, told the daily that the new IS video is an old recruitment tactic by the militant group.

“I am not surprised and this is not something new. Al-Qaeda had used the same tactic before,” he reportedly said.

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