Malaysia on alert as ISIS lures young girls to join its ranks

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian police are on the alert for a new tactic by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria to lure young girls from around the world to join its ranks.

Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division's principal assistant director Senior Asst Comm Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said the militant group was trying to lure girls as young as 14 and 15 to the ranks for sex jihad, among other activities.

"We will not allow them to be exploited by IS or any other terror groups.

"We are pooling our resources to ensure that these children do not fall into the trap," he told The Star on Sunday.

Stressing that the division was monitoring the situation closely, SAC Ayob Khan advised parents to be more wary of their children's activities.

"These young girls can easily be influenced by the militants via social media, especially Facebook.

"So, parents, please play your part by monitoring your children's activities," he said.

SAC Ayob Khan said that although the division had managed to thwart seven Malaysian women from going to Syria to join the militants since last year, seven others had managed to go there, adding that most of the women were in their 20s.

"The youngest so far is the 14-year-old who was arrested last week," he said.

The girl was nabbed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport while attempting to head to Cairo, purportedly to marry a student there before going to Syria.

SAC Ayob Khan said the latest arrest reflected the IS' worrying trend to brainwash and enlist youngsters from around the world into joining its terror ranks.

Britain's Scotland Yard is now looking for three teenage girls who are believed to be travelling to Syria via Turkey to join the ISIS.

They are Shamima Begum, 15, who could be using the name of Acklina Begum, and 16-year-old Kadiza Sultana. The third girl, 15, has not been named at the request of her family. Their friend, also a 15-year-old, is said to have joined the militants in December.

In November, a 19-year-old Dutch girl was brought home by her mother after marrying an ISIS fighter in Syria.

Earlier on Sunday, Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri said there were some people in the country who were influenced by the activities of militant groups.

"Their ability to recruit young people for their false struggle is worrying. To date, there have been several of our young people who not only joined them in IS territories as supporters but also became directly involved in military activities such as suicide bombing.

"Going by the experience of neighbouring countries, we should also give IS serious attention," he said.

He gave the assurance that police and military intelligence units were monitoring militant groups and would not let them grow to the point where they could threaten the security of the nation.

He said parents should always monitor their children's activities to prevent them from getting involved in terror groups like the ISIS.