MELAKA, Sept 17 — The police have confirmed that some Malaysians, supported by the Islamic State (IS) militant group, are in the midst of engaging in ‘jihad’ in Myanmar to fight against the Myanmar Government for the oppressed Rohingya Muslim minority community in Rakhine State.
Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division (E8) Assistant Director Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said the Rohingya issue was seen as the key weapon used by the IS to influence and recruit new members to engage in terrorism.
He said the widespread sharing of images of oppressed Rohingya people in the region on social media was to evoke sympathy and help the group (IS) to lure new members.
“Moreover, we do have intelligence information on the possibility of Indonesians involved in militant activities in their country,” he told reporters after the launch of the ‘ISIS Threat to Youths Awareness Seminar’ here today.
The event was officiated by Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron. Also present was State Youth and Heritage Development Deputy Exco Datuk Norpipah Abdol.
Commenting further, Ayob Khan said Myanmar’s proximity to Malaysia pushed IS militants to act in Rakhine. Myanmar is closer to Malaysia than Syria and the southern Philippines where the conflict is ongoing, and now another option for ‘jihad’ is Rakhine.
Although the recruiting of terrorists to Rakhine was still new, they were gathering information on the matter, including the detention of a 38-year-old man from Melaka on September 10, he said.
Based on intelligence information, the suspect, a cendol seller, was nabbed on suspicion of actively promoting the IS militancy by printing and distributing the group’s flag as well as planning to join the IS in the Philippines and Rakhine.
In a related development, Ayob Khan said the recruitment of new members was still ongoing despite the head of IS in Southeast Asia, Muhamad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi, from Melaka, having been killed in a drone attack in Raqaa, Syria at the end of April.
He said four Malaysians were still in Syria, who were believed to be actively recruiting Malaysians and were always looking for opportunities and space to attack if security slackened.
Meanwhile, Idris said all Village Development and Security Committees and local authorities in the state were urged to monitor developments in their area to curb the spread of any IS militant activity.
In the meantime, he said there were more than three reports on activities involving doubtful religious speakers and the case was handed over to the Melaka Islamic Religious Council and the Islamic Religious Department of Melaka for further action. — Bernama