Malaysia, already contending with recruitment by the Islamic State of the Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on its soil, is now facing another challenge. Women are being urged to travel to the Middle East to provide Jihad al-Nikah to militants – sexual comfort.
Three Malaysian women are known to have joined ISIS, according to Ayub Khan Mydin, deputy director of the Federal Police's Counterterrorism Division.
Clerics are denouncing Jihad al-Nikah as a "wrong concept" not mentioned in the Qur'an.
"This concept was introduced by Wahhabis in 2013 to support mujaheed fighters, who then opposed Bashar al-Assad's regime," Kuala Lumpur-based cleric Muhammad Safri told Khabar Southeast Asia. "This is not originated from the Qur'an. If anyone stated that this concept is adopted from the Qur'an, it is misleading ."
Enticed to leave her family
Syamimi Faiqah Sulaman is believed to be the latest Malaysian woman to join ISIS.
Local media reported that the former Kolej Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Selangor (KUIS) student departed for Syria to marry former rock star Akel Zainal, who now recruits jihadists – including women –via social media.
"We believe she is now at the Turkey-Syrian border," Ayub told Khabar. "Our intelligence has found many radicals will smuggle foreign fighters – men and women – to join ISIS in Syria."
"Authorities have taken a firm stance on this. It is a serious problem that someone like Akel has used Facebook to encourage Malaysian women to go to Syria," Ayub said. "Akel successfully convinced Syamimi to leave her family."
He added that Malaysia is working to stop the flow of jihadists to the Middle East. Authorities are aware of 22 Malaysians, including the three women, who have gone to Syria, he said. Last week, police arrested 14 people , including a government engineer, with suspected links to ISIS.
"We are currently working with universities to prevent the influence of militant groups," he said.
Kuala Lumpur resident Nitjwa Muharim condemned Syamimi's decision.
"There is nothing stated in the Qur'an that an action like this can be called jihad. Studying hard, getting a better future to help those in need is true jihad ," she told Khabar. "Maybe she was desperate because she failed in school. I hope all Malaysian women and students learn from Syamimi, to have more curiosity about Islam, to learn about and to practice it according to the Qur'an."
The Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is encouraging the public to be aware of social media recruitment efforts.
"If you see any recruitment posting on Facebook , YouTube, Twitter or other social media , please do not hesitate to report it to the authorities immediately," said MCMC Strategic Communications Senior Director Raffie Abd Rahman.