ISIS in Indonesia trying to recruit Malaysians

The recruitment of new militants in Malaysia has slowed down following the death of ISIS top recruiter Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, who was killed in Syria four months ago, Malaysia's top counter-terrorism official said.

Officials are instead seeing a new recruitment trend for Malaysians by militants based in Indonesia who also use social media tools, Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay told The Straits Times.

"Based on surveillance and intelligence, the pattern and trend looks slow (after Wanndy's death). We have the numbers but it will take some time for us to compile it and make it available," he said on the sidelines of an anti-extremism symposium yesterday.

Wanndy, who was from Durian Tunggal, Melaka, went to Syria in 2014 with his wife to fight for terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). He was believed to be the mastermind behind Malaysia's only terrorist attack when a grenade was lobbed into a nightclub in Puchong, Selangor, in June, by two men on a motorcycle, injuring eight people.

Police had also accused him of plotting through Malaysian militants to kill top local politicians and policemen.

He was active on Facebook, updating on events in Raqqa, Syria, and showing his followers what other Malaysian militants were doing in the war-torn Middle Eastern country as a means to attract recruits.

Police have arrested at least a dozen Malaysians who were influenced by his recruitment tactics, including the nightclub attackers.

Wanndy, 26, was killed in a drone attack on April 29. His death happened at around the same time as two other senior Malaysian ISIS leaders, Mohd Nizam Ariffin and Fudail Omar, that also helped to reduce the buzz on local recruitment.

Datuk Ayob said the current recruitment trend is that of Indonesian militants using WhatsApp and Telegram to reel in new members in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. He said the recruiters would form chat groups with those they trusted from these three countries.

After fighting broke out in Marawi in May, the recruitment drive has picked up tempo.

"The call by ISIS members in the Telegram and WhatsApp groups is for members in Indonesia and Malaysia to go fight in the southern Philippines because it is nearer than going to Syria," Mr Ayob said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2017, with the headline ISIS in Indonesia trying to recruit Malaysians. Subscribe