Malaysia says 75 per cent of new ISIS supporters recruited online

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian police are stepping up efforts to monitor social media sites for possible terrorist activities as an estimated 75 per cent of new Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) supporters are recruited online, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said on Monday.

He told Parliament that it is necessary for the police to maintain strict monitoring of online activities as a large proportion of social media users are below 40 years old and fit into the target group of ISIS recruiters, Malay Mail Online reported.

"Every police officer has been trained to carry out their policing duties, which includes monitoring social media that is used as a platform by terrorist to carry out their activities," the report quoted the minister as saying.

Zahid said the police have also launched an awareness campaign on the threat of the ISIS, especially among university students. He stressed that public awareness is important as the militants have a strong regional and international network that militants from Malaysia and elsewhere use to expand their influence.

"We know this network spans Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines... they aim not only to set up links in the region and all these areas mentioned, but also with all other international groups with the same ideology," he was quoted as saying.

Malaysia has so far detained 107 individuals on suspicion of having ISIS links, according to the report.

Malaysian police have also recently flagged a worrying trend of entire young families leaving to join the ISIS because they believe their country is not Islamic enough. Senior counter-terrorism official Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay told the Malaysian Insider news website that since the end of last year, 10 families - many of them parents in their late 20s - had left Malaysia for Syria.

They totalled 28 in number and included children from as young as a few months to a 16-year-old.

Ayob said the phenomenon is new as ISIS sympathisers used to be predominantly made up of single men or women leaving to join the terrorists on their own.

"They want to migrate so they and their children can live under an Islamic nation led by a caliph," Mr Ayob said.