KUALA LUMPUR - Police are keeping a tab on the Malaysian armed forces as several personnel have been detected to be sympathisers of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group waging war in the Middle East.
A senior intelligence official told The Malaysian Insider that two members of the security forces were arrested in Kuala Lumpur late last month on suspicion of channelling funds to Malaysians joining ISIS militants in Syria.
"The two who were arrested were influenced into supporting ISIS bcause of social media and befriending like-minded individuals on the Internet,'' the source told the news website.
"Besides the two suspects, who are rank and file personnel, police are also monitoring other security forces personnel who may be ISIS sympathisers," the source said.
In June, police arrested three alleged militants in Sandakan, Sabah, one of whom was a Royal Malaysian Navy personnel. He was released in July and had returned to full service.
The intelligence official told the Malaysian Insider that like many Malaysians, who had joined or support ISIS, some security forces personnel felt their lives were heading nowhere.
"If left unchecked, sympathy for militant activities may eventually lead to something bigger and unwanted. Hence police are keeping a close eye on such activities."
Malaysia will table an anti-terrorism Bill early next year to counter a growing Islamic militancy that has seen at least 39 Malaysians join the fighting in Syria and Iraq. Five Malaysians have been reported killed.
The legislation will include preventive measures and allow passports to be revoked to prevent Malaysia from becoming a terror hub, Home Minister Zahid Hamidi said on Nov 26.
A White Paper on terrorism recently tabled by Prime Minister Najib Razak said the government must "act immediately to contain" the influence of the ISIS. The 19-page policy document said efforts required to tackle the threat have become more challenging and current laws need to be strengthened.
The intelligence official also told Malaysian Insider that there were a number of Malaysians who had become disillusioned in the Middle East as it had not lived up to their expectations.
"Many Malaysians who went to the Middle East had been influenced by radicals and dreamed of fighting alongside their fellow brothers in the frontline.
"However, reality turned out to be completely different as these Malaysians were assigned menial tasks such as preparing food or vehicle maintenance."
There were Malaysians in the Middle East who wanted to return home but were prevented from leaving by ISIS, according to the report, adding that the Malaysians were influenced by former Kedah PAS Youth information chief Lotfi Ariffinm who died almost three months ago.
After his death, the Malaysians were left without direction as the ISIS is divided into different factions, according to the Malaysian Insider, but they were also unable to return home.