8 Malaysian children being groomed as ISIS fighters

They are being trained at camps in Syria and Iraq, says Malaysia's Special Branch Commissioner

Special Branch Commissioner Mohamad Fuzi Harun says that the children's exact location is unknown.
Special Branch Commissioner Mohamad Fuzi Harun says that the children's exact location is unknown.

KUALA LUMPUR • Eight Malaysian children are being groomed as fighters for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group, according to a senior Malaysian policeman.

He said this yesterday in Kuala Lumpur, after a 16-year-old youth clad in black ISIS attire held a woman at knife-point at a supermarket in Kedah on Monday.

Earlier, there were reports that two more Malaysian suicide bombers fighting for ISIS were killed in Syria and Iraq recently, making it a total of four Malay men who have blown themselves up in the Middle East since 2014.

Speaking about the child soldiers, Malaysia's Special Branch Commissioner Mohamad Fuzi Harun said at a police news conference that the children were being trained at ISIS camps in Syria and Iraq.

"It is not known where they are being placed right now. Maybe some are in Syria and some are in Iraq. These children were brought into the war-torn countries by their parents, who are raising them to be ISIS fighters," he said.

Datuk Seri Mohamad Fuzi said there are 47 Malaysian ISIS members in Syria and Iraq currently, out of whom 12 are women. He said there were as many as 55 people from Malaysia who went to join ISIS recently, but eight have either returned to the country, been arrested or been charged in court.

Police counter-terrorism chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said on Monday that based on intelligence, 26-year-old Mohd Amirul Ahmad Rahim detonated explosives that were strapped to his body and in his car in Raqqa, Syria, on Dec 29, killing 21 people. Another incident involved Mohamad Syazwan Mohd Salim, 31, who took part in a series of suicide bombings in Tikrit, Iraq, on Jan 3 which killed 12 policemen.

The duo's deaths brought the total number of Malaysians who have died in the last 18 months fighting for ISIS to 17.

Police chief Khalid Abu Bakar, however, said yesterday that police were waiting for official confirmation on whether the two Malaysians were responsible for the suicide attacks.

At the press conference yesterday, Datuk Seri Mohamad Fuzi said the families of several Malaysian ISIS members had sought the help of police to "lure" the militants back to the country. "But they have refused to come back. Their ultimate goal is to fight and die as martyrs," he said.

Meanwhile, in the Kedah town of Sungei Petani, a 16-year-old youth held a woman at knife-point at a supermarket on Monday evening.

Inspector-General of Police Khalid said the teen was arrested minutes later.

"Investigations revealed that he was influenced by the ISIS movement through social media and wanted to prove that he was capable of such acts by threatening the woman," Mr Khalid said.

The police chief added: "We need to identify these people. Investigations revealed that he had no intention of hurting the woman but wanted to show that he is a member and that he is able to do what is requested by the people (ISIS)."


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2016, with the headline 8 Malaysian children being groomed as ISIS fighters. Subscribe