Malay ISIS video 'will boost support in Malaysia'

A video posted by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) showing Malay-speaking children will draw more support and further radicalise Muslim fundamentalists in Malaysia, analysts say.

The Straits Times yesterday reported on the video, titled Education In The Caliphate, which depicted at least 20 Malay-speaking boys studying, praying, eating and undergoing defence and weapons lessons in territory held by the terrorist group.

The group also uploaded "exclusive" photos of students at the Abdullah Azzam academy, which uses Malay as a medium of instruction and was set up for the children of South-east Asian fighters.

"Currently, ISIS is attracting youngsters who can speak rudimentary English. The majority of the youngsters in the rural towns cannot understand English or what is posted online," Mr Ahmad El-Muhammady, a lecturer at the International Islamic University Malaysia, told The Straits Times.

"Videos in Malay are going to do much more damage to the youngsters here. They now see our people in Syria and would like to go there and find out themselves. They have been taught since (they were) young about the caliphate and are curious about what an Islamic state looks like," added Mr Ahmad, who is also a panel member of the Royal Malaysia Police Rehabilitation Programme for terrorist detainees.

More than 20 people have been arrested over alleged ISIS links since last year.

But the arrests have done little to stop the number of Malaysians joining ISIS from going up. Last month, police detained a 14-year- old girl at Kuala Lumpur International Airport who had intended to go to Syria via Egypt.

Perak will likely be the first state to ban ISIS. State mufti Harussani Zakaria called it a criminal group and its actions unIslamic.

The government will table the Prevention of Terrorism Act and Foreign Fighters Act soon.

But analysts stressed that the government must go beyond just legislating laws, and emulate Singapore's terrorist rehabilitation programme.

"The government is not doing enough... We should have the Religious Rehabilitation Group and programmes similar to Singa- pore's," said Mr Ahmad Ghazali Abu Hassan, director of the Centre for Defence and International Security Studies.

Counter-terrorism chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay downplayed the impact of Malay-language videos on local Muslims.

"I am not surprised and this is not something new. Al-Qaeda had used the same tactic before."

asruls@sph.com.sg