PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - To those who knew him, Ahmad Tarmimi Maliki was a quiet 26-year-old factory worker in Selangor. Now, he is believed to be Malaysia's first suicide bomber linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants.
He is said to have blown up 25 elite Iraqi soldiers at Iraq's SWAT headquarters in al-Anbar on May 26.
Reports state that Ahmad Tarmimi, who reportedly received militant training in Port Dickson at the end of last year, drove a military SUV filled with tonnes of explosives into the SWAT headquarters, blowing himself up in the process.
His story and photograph were published on the ISIL website under the title, "Mujahidin Malaysia Syahid Dalam Operasi Martyrdom". It described Tarmimi as the first Malaysian suicide bomber in Iraq.
The bombing preceded an attack on the SWAT headquarters by ISIL commandos who went on to seize a large cache of weapons.
Ahmad Tarmimi's family members said their last meeting was in March before he left for the Middle East to further his Islamic studies. He had been working in a factory in Selangor since 2012. He did not act in a strange way, the family said, but he had become more pious and more secretive.
His Facebook postings show that he first went to Syria via Turkey before finally ending up in Iraq, where he became a suicide bomber.
Sources said the ISIL network had local links in South-East Asia, including in Indonesia. Many youngsters were being lured to fight and die for their Muslim brothers in the Middle East, they said.
ISIL, which has launched attacks on governments in Syria and Iraq, was formed in April 2013 and grew out of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
According to Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (http://www.trackingterrorism.org), ISIL has extensive financial resources (mostly derived from alleged organised crime activities in areas of control as well as diaspora funds and unidentified financial sponsors from within Gulf states) as well as human capital that enable operations in various locations.
The organisation is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Little is known about him, but it is believed he was born in Samarra, north of Baghdad, in 1971 and joined the insurgency that erupted in Iraq soon after the 2003 US-led invasion.