Malaysians in Rakhine to fight army: KL top cop

Rohingya could die from lack of food and water - aid group.VIDEO: REUTERS

Militants using Rohingya issue to recruit individuals to carry out attacks

A group of Malaysians is in Myanmar to take up arms against the country's army, whose offensive against insurgents has led more than 400,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee the crackdown in Rakhine state.

Malaysian police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun, who disclosed this yesterday, added that intelligence showed there were other Malaysians preparing to fight the Myanmar army. "We are determining how many of them are there (in Myanmar) and how many are planning to leave Malaysia (for Myanmar)," Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi, the Inspector-General of Police, told The Straits Times yesterday.

He said that Malaysians keen to fight in Myanmar were recruited by fighters in Malaysia and Rakhine.

As for those who have already gone to Myanmar, they are believed to have entered the country from Bangladesh and Thailand.

"We are still investigating," Mr Mohamad Fuzi said.

It is not known whether those Malaysians have launched any attack.

On Sunday, Malaysian police confirmed that some Malaysians, backed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group, are engaging in an armed struggle against the Myanmar government.

BATTLES CLOSER TO HOME

Myanmar's proximity to Malaysia encouraged ISIS to act in Rakhine. Myanmar is closer to Malaysia than Syria and the southern Philippines, where the conflict is ongoing, and now Rakhine has become their latest destination for 'jihad'.

MALAYSIA ANTI-TERROR CHIEF AYOB KHAN MYDIN PITCHAY

In its report, Bernama news agency quoted anti- terror chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay as saying that ISIS is using the Rohingya issue as a platform to recruit new members to carry out attacks.

Contacted by The Straits Times, Datuk Ayob clarified that those who are in Myanmar do not belong to ISIS.

"They are not ISIS… We do not have intelligence that shows ISIS and Arsa have joined forces," he said, referring to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.

"But the issue in Rakhine is being exploited by ISIS (to recruit more fighters) in South-east Asia."

In the Bernama report, Mr Ayob said images of the oppressed Rohingya community are being shared on social media to rake in sympathy and entice new members to join ISIS. "Myanmar's proximity to Malaysia encouraged ISIS to act in Rakhine. Myanmar is closer to Malaysia than Syria and the southern Philippines, where the conflict is ongoing, and now Rakhine has become their latest destination for 'jihad'," he said.

On Sept 10, a 38-year-old chendol seller was arrested in Melaka for producing ISIS flags and promoting the terror group. The man had planned to join an ISIS faction in the southern Philippines and in Rakhine.

In a related development, Mr Ayob said that ISIS' recruitment of new members has not been affected by the death of its top recruiter in South-east Asia, Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi. The 26-year-old from Melaka, who was Malaysia's most-wanted militant, was killed in a drone attack in Syria in April.

Mr Ayob said four Malaysians still in Syria are believed to be actively recruiting Malaysians, and are also looking for an opportunity to launch an attack.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2017, with the headline 'Malaysians in Rakhine to fight army: KL top cop'. Print Edition | Subscribe