Militant networks are reforming, Malaysia warns

Local jihadists are drawing energy from the emergence of ISIS, but a religious leader warns Malaysians not to make the "wrong choice".

By Alisha Nurhayati for Khabar Southeast Asia in Kuala Lumpur

November 11, 2014
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Malaysian security officials have identified four new terror groups that are "embarking on an aggressive recruitment drive" with the goal of establishing a Southeast Asian caliphate, according to the New Straits Times.

  •  Policemen board a truck during a search for suspected Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) members in Aceh in March 2010. The emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has energised Southeast Asian jihadist networks bent on forming a regional caliphate. [Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP]

    Policemen board a truck during a search for suspected Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) members in Aceh in March 2010. The emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has energised Southeast Asian jihadist networks bent on forming a regional caliphate. [Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP]

The groups are permutations of earlier terror cells, according to the New Straits Times, which broke the news earlier this year, citing Malaysian intelligence sources.

In the article, the organisations were identified only by acronyms: BKAW, BAJ, Dimzia, and ADI.

The government has the four – and more established groups – under surveillance, according to Malaysian Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar.

"Most of the militant organisations that formed recently are likely linked to Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) or Kumpulan Mujahidin Malaysia," the inspector general told Khabar Southeast Asia.

"We believe that their departures to Syria are also to establish contact with larger militant networks like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)," he said.

"We have stopped dozens of Malaysian citizens going to the battlegrounds . This is not for training but a real war," he continued.

There is a very high risk for home countries when militants fighting in Iraq or Syria return, he said. "They (militants) will be a serious threat, not only because they have a larger network, but also because of possibility that they honed their tactics for an insurgency," he explained.

Cleric urges proper understanding of jihad

In a separate conversation, Kelantan Mufti Mohamad Shukri told Khabar Malaysians should learn more about jihad before going to Iraq or Syria.

"We need to rethink our decision. First, is going to Syria and Iraq to kill other Muslims and all human beings in accordance with the Qur'an? Second, if you're feeling obligated to conduct jihad, are you choosing the right organisation?" he questioned.

The cleric said though jihad can have multiple meanings and interpretations, no true reading of the Qur'an or Islamic teachings suggest ISIS's actions are proper.

"It is very unhuman to just kill each other," he declared. "It is prohibited by law and by our religion. Therefore, please rethink your decision because you may be making the wrong choice ."

The Director of the Institute for Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore at the University Utara Malaysia (UUM), Mohd Kamarulnizam Abdullah, said the emergence of ISIS has re-energised militants whose local networks have been all but dismantled.

"This is a similar situation to that in Indonesia. After the Malaysian government eradicated JI, they are no longer efficient, and therefore they are using the ISIS movement to get their power back," he told Khabar.

"Second supporters" and social media need attention

Mohd Kamarulnizam Abdullah also identified a government need to focus on so-called "second supporters."

"Second supporters are those who are not going to Iraq or Syria to wage jihad, but those who contribute financially to support militants’ work in the country or overseas," he said. "These supporters are also using social media. As you see now, it is a very effective tool for militants."

One Kuala Lumpur resident said every parent should pay attention to their child’s social media activity to try and prevent their involvement in any form of radicalism.

"It has been demonstrated that social media provides unlimited access for militants to reach innocent citizens, including children , to support their violent actions," said Siti Azeema, who praised government anti-militancy efforts, but said they won't stop radicalism completely.

"Every parent and community member needs to be cautious…very cautious," she warned.

Reader Comments
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    • upi
      November 26, 2014 @ 11:11:47PM
    • Islam is peaceful, the rules of Allah are clear. If Muslim people always follow His commands and avoid the things forbidden by Him, then Allah willing, all will be beautiful. The road to Paradise is not costly but not everyone is willing or able to take it. People feel embarrassed when they cannot be like other people, even if they do so through unsavory means.
    • alif
      November 23, 2014 @ 08:11:48AM
    • I personally think that hundreds, even thousands of years ago, open war was waged on Muslims by XXX but they were not able to destroy Muslims. In fact, Muslims became greater and stronger. Muslims are greatly feared by XXX because of the global Muslim brotherhood [XXX tried to find ways to destroy Muslims, among others, through sowing discord, planting the seeds of conflict between Muslims]. The Middle East are ideal countries for XXX's program, countries where many live in poverty, and many problems are still being faced by countries in the Middle East. ISIS is a group that was specifically designed to destroy Muslims themselves, perhaps by majority or non-Muslim countries. On the basis of jihad, many Muslims themselves are supporting ISIS or other hard line Muslims. ISIS is programmed to destroy Islam from the inside. Picture it, how many Muslims die everyday because they are pitted against each other to kill each other? XXX is sitting pretty, they need only to count the number of Muslims who have died. The ISIS program or other terrorists programs will not succeed if we, the Muslims of the world, unite. They will always try to destroy Muslims until the end of time. Let us Muslims of the world unite and strengthen the sense of brotherhood among Muslims, provide our children and grandchildren with strong Islamic teachings. Be vigilant, do not be made complacent by your surroundings, because XXX will always try to find our weakness. May Allah protect us, Amin Ya Allah.
    • kidukmidun
      November 13, 2014 @ 08:11:26AM
    • All Muslims specifically and the people as a whole should band together to eradicate and fiercely challenge militant activities so that they don't fester. And then they should be fully immobilized.
    • talib bin hussain
      November 13, 2014 @ 08:11:55AM
    • For me, that struggle is not accurate since we do not know the real motive behind that struggle. Allah is all-knowing.

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The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) does not represent Muslims.

Photo Essay

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