KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 13 — A former 1990s rock musician known as Akel Zainal is believed to be enticing Malaysian youths to join the militants of the Islamic State (IS) in Syria, according to an Utusan Malaysia report published today.
Quoting a police source, the report said that Akel is now leading the a group of Malaysians group fighting for IS, effectively replacing local preacher and former Kedah PAS leader Mohd Lofti Ariffin who died pursuing the cause.
“He (Akel) is cunningly using his ‘celebrity’ status to entice local youths to join militant groups.
“Akel is proud when many of his Facebook followers praise him and offer words of encouragement and it captures the interests other people,” the source was quoted as saying.
Akel is active on social media and frequently uploads pictures of himself and other militants on Facebook.
Yesterday, police confirmed that former Kolej Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Selangor (KUIS) student, Syamimi Faiqah left for Syria on October 4 to join militants of the Islamic State (IS).
Syamimi was reported to have done so to marry Akel, whom she got to know via Facebook.
“Syamimi herself once said she wanted to fight and die in Syria even without her family’s blessings,” the source added.
According to official police statements, five Malaysians have been reported killed and six others injured in clashes between militants and the security forces there.
So far 22 Malaysians, including three women, are believed to be with militant groups in Syria.
Twenty-three others have been detained in the country for alleged links with these groups.
The total number of Southeast Asians fighting alongside Islamic State is estimated by governments and police to be a few hundred.
The violence and brutality committed by terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria poses a threat to the Middle East and, if left unchecked, the world, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations warned in a statement on September 27.
Malaysians and Indonesians fighting for the IS have also reportedly banded together over their common language and are said to be planning to expand their numbers to form a “katibah”, a military unit of 100 men roughly equivalent to a company.
Malaysia’s government has designated IS a terrorist group.
The organisation was formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).