Police foil ISIS bid to set up kids' training camp in Malaysia

PETALING JAYA • The police have foiled an attempt by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants to set up a centre for training child terrorists in Malaysia, even as eight Malaysian children are reportedly being indoctrinated in similar camps in Iraq and Syria.

Bukit Aman Special Branch director Mohamad Fuzi Harun did not disclose details of the operation, reported the Malay Mail Online, as it could compromise ongoing efforts against ISIS.

Datuk Seri Mohamad Fuzi said the children in Syria and Iraq, aged between three and seven, were taken there by their parents, who wanted to pass on militant ideology to their children through such camps.

"The children are recruited with the ultimate intention of them taking over as Daesh leaders," he said, using another name for ISIS.

The first such case could have occurred as early as 2012, he added.

Mr Mohamad Fuzi said ISIS had tutors who gave children a tailor-made version of its ideology. "We believe the children were given training on simple weapons handling along with religious indoctrination from a young age," he said.

Some of the young terrorists are believed to already be involved in fighting as they are competent in handling firearms and explosives, the website reported him as saying. He said some of the children in ISIS training camps in Iraq and Syria were Indonesians recruited after the 2004 tsunami that hit Aceh.

"Many young children there became orphans overnight. Terrorists from groups such as Jemaah Islamiah and the East Indonesian Mujahideen rounded up these orphans and forced their beliefs down their throats," he said.

Meanwhile, Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said yesterday it is beyond Bukit Aman's authority to bring home Malaysians involved in terror activities outside the country, including in Syria, the Malay Mail Online reported. He said the issue was an ideological problem and beyond the force's scope.

"We always try our best, especially with regard to those who have already reached Iraq and Syria. From our side, we always try to influence them to drop their following there (Syria), but it is out of our bounds to go there and bring them back as this is an ideology problem, matters of belief. If they still insist on believing in what's wrong, how can we bring them back?" he told a press conference here.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2016, with the headline 'Police foil ISIS bid to set up kids' training camp in Malaysia'. Subscribe