Two Malaysian suicide bombers killed more than 30 in Syria and Iraq

Blood stains are seen at a Shi'ite mosque after a suicide bomb attack in Baghdad on Dec 9, 2015.
Blood stains are seen at a Shi'ite mosque after a suicide bomb attack in Baghdad on Dec 9, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Two Malaysian suicide bombers blew themselves up in Syria and Iraq last week, killing more than 30 others, it was reported.

The New Straits Times (NST) said Terengganu-born Mohd Amirul Ahmad Rahim set off the bombs that he had on him and in the car he was in during clashes in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the stronghold of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), on Dec 29.

The newspaper, citing sources, said the 26-year-old left his family in Malaysia for Syria in October 2014 to join the ISIS.

Amirul, who went by the nom de guerre Abu Uqashah Malizi, died on the day the ISIS launched an offensive on the 44th Syrian Democratic Forces coalition near Ain Issa, which saw 21 Kurdish fighters killed.

The newspaper said ISIS members from Malaysia serving in Syria and Iraq would usually have the word "Malizi" attached to their nom de guerre.

Five days after Amirul's death, another Malaysian blew himself up in Tikrit, Iraq, according to NST. Mohamad Syazwan Mohd Salim, who carried out his mission on the night of Jan 3, was one of seven suicide bombers who had made their way to a police training centre at Speicher military base, some 160km north of Baghdad. They had targeted a large group of police forces from the northern province of Nineveh, who were undergoing training.

A source said the 31-year-old was among those who detonated their suicide vests that killed 12 policemen, including three officers. Twenty others were wounded.

Syazwan left his hometown in Selangor with his younger brother Muhamad Shazani Mohd Salim, 28, on Sept 23, 2014, via Istanbul, Turkey, to join ISIS. Shazani, also known as Abu Aydan among his comrades, first served as a cleaner before he was recruited as a sniper and suicide bomber, said the report. He died in a suicide mission on Sept 18 last year in Bayji, northern Iraq, during a skirmish with Iraqi forces.

The source said both brothers were trained in the Khatibah Nusantara cell in Syria for their suicide operations.

The death of Amirul and Syazwan brings the total number of Malaysian ISIS recruits killed to 17. Of the number, six had served as suicide bombers, while the rest died during battles.

Until recently, Malaysians who joined the militant group rarely ended up as frontline fighters. It was reported that Malaysians, along with several other nationals including from India, would usually be given menial tasks, including cooking or cleaning.

Over several months, however, the Malaysians had slowly moved up the ladder, NST reported.