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.
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.