Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak reacted angrily Monday to a report stating that two Malaysians recently blew themselves up in suicide missions in Syria and Iraq, killing 33.
“Shocked and appalled to hear that two Malaysians were reported to have been involved in suicide bombings in Iraq and Syria, resulting in the loss of more than 30 innocent lives,” Najib wrote in a message posted on his Facebook page.
“Their actions and ideology have no place in Malaysia or Islam … we will spare no effort to find out how and why these young men were able to commit these atrocious acts, and will take all measures necessary to prevent others from doing so in the future,” he added.
He appeared to be reacting to a story from the New Straits Times, a Malaysian newspaper, which was picked up by many other news outlets in Malaysia and beyond.
It reported that two Malaysians, Mohd Amirul Ahmad Rahim, 26, and Mohamad Syazwan Mohd Salim, 31, were killed while taking part in IS missions in the war zone in late December and early January, respectively.
The newspaper cited unnamed sources, and the facts contained in the report could not be immediately confirmed.
The NST report also contained contradictory information about how the men died.
It stated that Amirul died Dec. 29, the day IS forces launched an offensive on the 44th Syrian Democratic Forces and Kurdish People’s Protection Units near Raqqa, an IS stronghold in Syria.
The report said that Amirul “set off the bombs that he had on him and in the car he was in” in Raqqa during the clashes.
It also stated that “Amirul was among at least 16 fighters from IS who were killed by Arab and Kurdish forces.”
Syazwan, meanwhile, was reportedly killed on Jan. 3 during an IS mission that targeted a police training center at a military base in Tikrit, Iraq.
The NST said that he was among a group of suicide bombers “who detonated their suicide vests that killed 12 policemen, including three officers.”
It added that Syawzan, “along with the other bombers, were shot by their targets.”
Two brothers killed?
The newspaper went on to say that Syawzan had left his hometown of Selangor with a younger brother, Muhamad Shazani Mohd Salim, to join IS in September 2014.
Shazani, 28, died in a suicide mission on Sept. 18, 2015, in northern Iraq, and both brothers belonged to an IS unit called Khatibah Nusantara, the NST said.
The unit is made up exclusively of Malay-speaking fighters from Southeast Asia.
Amirul was a native of Terengganu state who went to Syria in October 2014, the NST said.
If the report proves accurate, the deaths of two men would bring to at least 16 the number of young Malaysians who have lost their lives while allegedly fighting for IS in Syria or Iraq, according to information provided by the Royal Malaysia Police.
Mohd Faris Anuar, an IS member who shocked his country last year by filming an Islamic State beheading video, was killed in fighting in Anbar, Iraq on Nov. 23, 2015, a senior counterterrorism official confirmed to BenarNews.