Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay of the Special Branch says IS using Rohingya conflict as a means to influence and recruit new members into terrorism.
MELAKA: The police have confirmed that some Malaysians, supported by the Daesh (Islamic State) militant group, are in the midst of engaging in ‘jihad’ in Myanmar to fight against the government there on behalf of 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 conflict was being used as the key weapon by the IS to influence and recruit new members to engage in terrorism.
He said the widespread sharing of images on social media of the oppressed Rohingya people in the region was to evoke sympathy and help the IS lure new members.
“Moreover, we do have intelligence information about the possibility of Indonesians involved in militant activities in their country,” he told reporters after the launch of the ‘ISIS Threat to Youth Awareness Seminar’ here today.
The event was officiated by Melaka Chief Minister Idris Haron. Also present was State Youth and Heritage Development Deputy Exco 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 was therefore being used as another option for ‘jihad’.
Although the recruiting of terrorists to Rakhine was still in the early stages, police were gathering information, which included the detention of a 38-year-old man from Melaka on Sept 10, he said.
Based on intelligence information, the suspect, a cendol seller, was nabbed on suspicion of actively promoting 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 ongoing despite the head of IS in Southeast Asia, Muhamad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi, from Melaka, being killed in a drone attack in Raqaa, Syria at the end of April.
He said four Malaysians were still in Syria, and believed to be actively recruiting Malaysians besides constantly looking for opportunities and places to attack if security slackened.
Meanwhile, Idris said all Village Development and Security Committees as well as 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 about the activities of doubtful religious speakers. The cases were handed over to the Melaka Islamic Religious Council and the Islamic Religious Department of Melaka for further action.