KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Malay-speaking wing of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has sent a warning to Malaysia for stepping up its campaign against the terror group.
In a strongly defiant video posted in Bahasa Malaysia, the Malaysian-Indonesian unit of ISIS, called the Katibah Nusantara, threatened revenge for the arrests of its members.
Titled "Mesej Awam Kepada Malaysia" (Public Message for Malaysia), the video warned: "If you catch us, we will only increase in number but if you let us be, we will be closer to our goal of bringing back the rule of the Khalifah (caliph)."
"We will never bow down to the democratic system of governance as we will only follow Allah's rules."
Another video called on Katibah's "brothers" from Somalia's Al-Shabaab, a militant group aligned with the Al-Qaeda, to join the group in the "real front-line in Syria".
In the video, which lasts more than a minute, Katibah's Malaysian militants can clearly be seen speaking in Bahasa Malaysia, urging their compatriots from Al-Shabaab to join the ISIS and its so-called jihad or holy war.
The video shows Katibah member Abdul Halid Dari urging them to pledge their allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and join the "real" fight in Syria as fellow militant Mohd Nizam Arifin looks on.
Abdul Halid also quotes Prophet Muhammad's teachings to convince fighters in Somalia to join ISIS.
Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division head, Senior Asst Comm Datuk Ayob Khan, said the threat and direct challenge to the government reflected Katibah's brazen stance.
"It further proves that IS, especially the Katibah group, views our country as secular, and as such makes the government and the people as its targets. This is no doubt in retaliation against our security forces' actions against them," he told The Star on Sunday (Jan 24).
He said the counter-terrorism division would be more vigilant as attacks could occur at any time, adding that reliable intelligence was the key to prevent attacks from taking place in the country.
"We have to be constantly on our toes and cannot afford to let our guard down," he said.
On the video addressed to the Somalians, SAC Ayob Khan said although it had subtitles in Arabic, the fact that Abdul Halid spoke in Malay led intelligence agencies to suspect there were also Malaysians in Al-Shabaab.
"This is certainly a new development resulting in more involvement of Malaysians in terror groups," he said.
Both videos were posted on an ISIS-sanctioned website, signifying Katibah's increasing recognition within the terror group.
"Prior to this, we only saw videos posted on Facebook or other social media sites but this particular video is a clear indication that Katibah is among the major foreign factions in IS," said SAC Ayob Khan.
He said the video was also the first clear indication that there were Malaysians or at least Malay-speaking militants in Al-Shabaab.
"It is certainly alarming if true. Why would the militants speak Bahasa Malaysia if they were not calling out to their fellow countrymen?" he asked.
It is believed that Katibah has more than 200 fighters from Malaysia and Indonesia, who are highly sought after for "specialised missions", including serving as snipers and becoming suicide bombers.
Katibah first came under the radar of intelligence agencies two years ago when it was called Majmu'ah al Arkhabiliy.
According to Indonesian police, Muhammad Bahrun Naim, an Indonesian Katibah fighter, was behind the recent bomb blasts and gun attacks in Jakarta.