Kuala Lumpur man funded 14-year-old girl attempting to join ISIS in Syria

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A 14-year-old girl from Malaysia suspected of attempting to head to Syria to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group was funded by a man based in Kuala Lumpur.

Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division's principal assistant director Ayob Khan said initial investigations revealed that the Muar-born girl received about RM2,000 (S$748) from the man for her trip.

"She got RM2,000 and the plane tickets and was about to leave the country on the pretext of furthering her studies in Egypt.

"We are in the midst of identifying the so-called benefactor," SAC Ayob said in an interview on Friday.

He added that the Bukit Aman police headquarters was also investigating whether the man had knowledge of the ISIS agenda and if he backed it.

The police were also trying to ascertain if the girl had other sponsors or if the man had funded other would-be militants.

"The girl was influenced to join the IS in November last year after communication with militants on Facebook.

"We are also trying to identify the Malaysian she said she was planning to marry in Egypt. We want to find out if it was just a cover story," he said.

The girl is now being held at a juvenile detention centre in Jinjang.

SAC Ayob said a total of seven Malaysian women have gone to Syria while seven others were detained before they could do so.

The girl was arrested at about 7.30pm on Tuesday before she could board a Cairo-bound flight at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. She was planning to marry a 22-year-old student in Cairo. Both would then go to Istanbul before securing passage to Syria.

Intelligence sources said the girl's would-be husband is a student at Cairo's Al-Azhar University.

It is learnt that the girl, who studied at a tahfiz institute in Shah Alam, had attempted to go to Cairo without her family's consent. She had even threatened to kill herself if her parents did not let her go.

Her uncle told Bernama news agency that the girl had wanted to further her studies at a religious school.

"I didn't know my niece was detained until you (reporters) told me... Her relationship with her family is good and there are no problems and she is close to her friends at school.

"She is the eldest of three children and their mother died a few years ago," said the 52-year-old uncle.

The girl's arrest brings the number of people arrested to 68 since February 2013.

Anyone with information on the militants are urged to contact the nearest police station in Malaysia or the counter-terrorism division at 03-2266 7010 or 011-2104 6850, or e-mail CTD.E8M@gmail.com