KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — Intelligence personnel are concerned about the return of Malaysian militants from Raqqa, Iraq and Marawi, Philippines where the Islamic State (IS) have been routed.
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said that IS fighters were already fleeing Iraq and Syria, and regrouping elsewhere to rebuild their capabilities to set up an Islamic State, especially South-east Asia, including Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia.
He reportedly said that this was because the three countries have large and potentially sympathetic Muslim populations.
“They may be inspirational to new recruits and are able to organise new attacks,” Nur Jazlan was quoted saying by The Star newspaper, adding that both Malaysian and foreign terrorists were both making an inroad into Malaysia.
“The additional challenge for the counter-terrorism (CT) units is to locate where they are, prevent their reorganisation in this regions, deny access to heavy and mass destruction and anticipate the location and timing of future attacks,” Jazlan was quoted saying.
An unnamed intelligence personnel told The Star, however, that it is unlikely that the Malaysian militants fleeing Syria would come here.
“They will either go to Pakistan or Thailand and head into Indonesia.
“Then they may take a boat to sneak into Malaysia via the backdoor and probably report a lost identity card to get back their identity cards,” the source reportedly said.
“Their mindset is different from before they left Malaysia. They could be trigger-happy,” the source said, adding that this was because of the militant battleground expertise.
Last week, AFP reported Philippines Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana saying that a five-month battle against IS supporters in the southern Philippines that claimed more than 1,000 lives had ended.
Lorenzana said there were no more militants, known locally as coming from the Maute group, providing resistance following an intense final battle after which 42 bodies were recovered.
In June, Singapore daily The Straits Times cited Philippine General Eduardo Año as its source, saying a 38-year-old former lecturer from Universiti Malaya’s (UM) Islamic Studies faculty was wounded in battle last month and believed to have died on June 7.
According to the general, the lecturer, Mahmud Ahmad, was suspected of funnelling over 30 million pesos from global terror network, the Islamic State (IS) to gain firearms, food and other supplies to finance the militants’ siege of the southern Philippine city.
The Straits Times reported Malaysian counter-terrorism authorities confirming Mahmud had been raising funds for the South-east Asian terror campaign, but could not confirm his death as his body had yet to be found.
Last week, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said the Malaysian police had already contacted their Philippine counterparts and were ready to despatch a forensic team to that country to identify Mahmud’s remains.