Malaysia on alert for lone-wolf attacks by ISIS supporters

A screengrab from the ISIS propaganda video in which a Malaysian fighter for the militants, identified as Mohd Rafi Udin from Negri Sembilan, urged ISIS supporters in the country to stage attacks. A Filipino and an Indonesian in the video also urged
A screengrab from the ISIS propaganda video in which a Malaysian fighter for the militants, identified as Mohd Rafi Udin from Negri Sembilan, urged ISIS supporters in the country to stage attacks. A Filipino and an Indonesian in the video also urged their countrymen to do the same. The Philippine military has dismissed the video as just propaganda.

3 fighters from region, including a Malaysian, call for strikes in militants' propaganda video

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysian police are bracing themselves for potential lone-wolf attacks by supporters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) after the militants issued a threat to Bukit Aman in a propaganda video.

"Those of you in Bukit Aman, you will no longer have peace. We will slaughter you... when we return. Our friends back home will hunt you down," the first known Malaysian ISIS fighter in Syria said in the video released on Tuesday.

In the propaganda video, three South-east Asian ISIS fighters in Syria - the Malaysian, a Filipino and an Indonesian - took turns to urge ISIS supporters in their home countries to stage attacks. The men are understood to belong to ISIS' Khatibah Nusantara division, the South-east Asian branch of ISIS in Syria.

Bukit Aman Special Branch counter-terrorism division chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said the police were "preparing for potential attacks within six months by two sources, Khatibah Nusantara in the Philippines, and central IS", using another acronym for ISIS.

"Targeted attacks will likely be carried out the minute the pledge of allegiance to IS from these groups outside Syria is accepted and the areas they operate in are declared theirs," said Datuk Ayob, reported the New Straits Times (NST).

SERIOUS THREAT

Targeted attacks will likely be carried out the minute the pledge of allegiance to IS from these groups outside Syria is accepted and the areas they operate in are declared theirs.

DATUK AYOB KHAN MYDIN PITCHAY, Malaysian police counter-terrorism chief, using another acronym for ISIS, on the potential attacks by supporters of the terror group.

But the Philippine military has dismissed the video as mere "propaganda" to recruit radicals from South-east Asia.

"People should not be bothered by this because it's part of the propaganda they are propagating," Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla, the Philippine military's spokesman, told reporters.

Professor Irfan Idris, the director of deradicalisation at Indonesia's counter-terrorism agency, told The Straits Times that the video is "a regular campaign to maintain the spirit among the militants".

In the video, the Malaysian fighter in it - identified by police as Mohd Rafi Udin from Negeri Sembilan - said that the group's supporters should rally around Abu Sayyaf group leader Isnilon Hapilon, now styled Abdullah al-Filipini, who has been appointed by ISIS to be its leader in Asia.

The Abu Sayyaf group has pledged allegiance to ISIS and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Terror groups like the Abu Dujana Brigade, Abi Khabib Brigade, Jund Allah Brigade, and Abi Sadr have also pledged allegiance to ISIS.

Rafi called on ISIS supporters to use any means necessary to "kill" non-believers. "Kill them wherever you meet them... If you have a car, hit them... Use your weapons and knives to stab them in the chest," he said. He also said that he and his friends in Syria would lend support for such actions from afar.

The Filipino in the video, meanwhile, said: "We are slaughtering these murtad (apostates), and tomorrow, our brothers in your land will slaughter you... We will use the language of swords and bullets... We will continue to fight and wage war against you, terrorise you and put fear in your hearts."

In the video, three captives alleged to be spies were then beheaded by the three South-east Asian ISIS operatives.

Mr Ayob revealed that his division has already seen at least two lone-wolf attacks, including one by a 16-year-old student in Sungai Petani, Kedah, recently.

In the Kedah attack, the culprit armed himself with a knife and fake pistol and targeted a 27-year-old sales assistant, reported NST. "The boy had received orders from a Malaysian IS senior to carry out the attack... so he took a knife and tried to kill her just because she is a non-Muslim," said Mr Ayob.

With respect to the other attack, he said: "We also stopped a suspect with two 'Rambo' knives at an LRT station in Jalan Jelatek."

Mr Ayob said that nine other planned attacks by ISIS sympathisers had been thwarted by his division.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2016, with the headline 'Malaysia on alert for lone-wolf attacks by ISIS supporters'. Print Edition | Subscribe