Malaysian women looking for ISIS lovers left stranded at Turkish border

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysian women looking for love with Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants have lost millions of ringgit and found themselves stranded on the Turkey-Syria border.

Counter-terrorism chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay told Malay language daily Utusan Malaysia that over 20 women had sold houses and cars and used bank loans to make their way to Syria via Turkey.

"When they arrived in Istanbul, they and other foreigners, including Indonesians, were taken by minders to a halfway house. They surrendered their passports and mobile phones to these minders to avoid being detected," said Datuk Ayob Khan on Saturday.

They were asked for money to cover expenses for lodging and food. Some stayed in Turkey for up to five months, according to Mr Ayob Khan. Their dreams of reaching Syria and marrying militants were dashed when they ran out of money, he said.

The minders are believed to be working closely with Malaysian ISIS militant Mohamad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi to extract money from the women.

"Once all their money is taken, these minders find ways to get these women to leave the house," said Mr Ayob Khan.

The women are taken to the Turkey-Syria border and abandoned, usually at Hatay and Gaziantep, where travellers who might be crossing to join ISIS are closely monitored. The women are apprehended by the authorities for overstaying and deported back to Malaysia.

"The minders then disappear to find more women to deceive," said Mr Ayob Khan.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 01, 2017, with the headline Malaysian women looking for ISIS lovers left stranded at Turkish border. Subscribe