ISIS recruiting Malaysians in 'holy war' against Myanmar govt by playing up Rohingya crisis

A house is seen on fire in Gawduthar village, Maungdaw township, in the north of Rakhine state, Myanmar on Sept 7, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

MELAKA (Bernama) - A number of Malaysians backed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group is engaging the Myanmar government in a "holy war", purportedly to defend the oppressed Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State.

The federal police Special Branch's Counter-Terrorism Division assistant director Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said in reality, ISIS was using the Rohingya issue as a platform to recruit new members to carry out its terrorist acts.

Datuk Ayob said ISIS also shared images of oppressed Rohingya people online to evoke sympathy and lure people to be part of the terror group.

"At the same time, we have intelligence information on the possibility of Indonesians involved in militant activities in their country," Datuk Ayob told reporters after the launch of the 'IS Threat to Youths Awareness Seminar' here on Sunday (Sept 17), which used an alternate acronym for ISIS.

The event was officiated by Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron.

Datuk Ayob said Myanmar's proximity to Malaysia was an opportunity for ISIS to spread their influence in Rakhine.

"Myanmar is closer to Malaysia than Syria and the southern Philippines. And now Rakhine has become their latest destination to carry out their 'jihad'."

Datuk Ayob revealed on Sept 10 that a cendol seller from Melaka was arrested on suspicion of promoting ISIS militancy through the printing and distribution of ISIS flags.

The 38-year old man was also planning to take part in ISIS activities in the Philippines and Rakhine.

In a related development, Datuk Ayob said the recruitment of new members was still ongoing despite the death of the head of ISIS' South-east Asia operations, Muhamad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi, from Melaka, who was killed in a drone attack in Raqqa, Syria, in April.

He said as of now, there were four Malaysians in Syria believed to be actively recruiting Malaysians.

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