Updated at 8:35 p.m. ET on 2015-12-05
Mohd Faris Anuar, a Malaysian who shocked his country earlier this year by filming an Islamic State beheading video, has been killed fighting for the group in Anbar, Iraq, BenarNews has learned.
The 20 or 21-year-old native of Kedah state is the 14th Malaysian IS member to die in the Middle East, a senior counterterrorism official confirmed to BenarNews Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"Yes, true... Mohd Faris Anuar was killed in battle in Al-Anbar, Iraq on November 23 and the death of Mohd Faris brings the total to 14 Malaysians who were killed in Syria and Iraq," the official said.
An announcement of the death was posted on a jihadist Facebook account on November 23 stating that “Abu Qudamah Al Malizi” had been martyred. Abu Qudamah Al Malizi is an alias that had been used by Faris, according to an intelligence source.
At least 128 people “linked to ‘Jihad’ activities in Iraq and Syria” had been arrested in Malaysia, and 69 Malaysians had reportedly gone to the Middle East to join IS, Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed said in October.
Those numbers ticked up Saturday as Malaysian police announced the arrests of four foreign nationals and a Malaysian man suspected of terrorist activities on Malaysian soil.
The arrests took place between Nov. 17 and Dec 1, according to a statement issued by Malaysian Police Inspector-General Khalid Abu Bakar.
The detainees included a 44-year-old European man who worked as an English teacher on the island of Penang, according to the statement. The man, arrested in Kuala Lumpur, was suspected of having joined al-Qaeda and engaged in terror activities in Afghanistan and Bosnia, it said.
A 29-year-old citizen of “an African country” and student at a private college in Petaling Jaya was arrested in Cheras, Selangor on suspicion of unspecified terrorist activities, it said.
Both men were arrested under Malaysian immigration law and would be deported, according to the statement.
The three others were suspected members of a terrorist cell linked to IS, it said. These suspects were detained under Act 574 of the Malaysian Penal Code and would be investigated under the Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act 2012.
The leader of the cell, according to Malaysian police, was a 31-year-old Indonesian mechanic arrested in Johor who facilitated individuals wishing to join IS in Syria or other terrorist groups in the region.
A 51-year-old Malaysian tailor picked up in Kota Bahru, Kelantan recruited and assisted new members of the cell in joining terrorist activities outside the country, the statement alleged.
Finally, a 25-year-old citizen of Bangladesh who worked as a technician for a private company allegedly planned to go to Syria to fight for IS. The Bangladeshi man was arrested in Selangor.
‘The scene of slaughter’
Malaysian authorities in early March identified two Malaysian members of the Islamic State who took part in the videotaped execution of a Syrian man that was posted to Facebook in late February.
The two were Muhammad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi, 25, from the town of Durian Tunggul in Malacca state, and Mohd Faris Anuar, 20, from Gurun, Kedah, The Star newspaper reported at the time.
The 30-minute video showed an “Arab man” decapitating the Syrian prisoner. Wanndy was later seen crouching over the body, while Faris’ voice was heard from behind the camera.
Another militant identified as an Indonesian held up the Syrian’s head and yelled “Allahuakbar,” according to descriptions of the footage reported in Malaysian media at the time.
“This is the first video footage we have indicating the presence of Malaysians at the scene of slaughter," Ayub Khan Mydin Pitchay, deputy chief of the Royal Malaysian Police’s counter-terrorism division, told a March 4 press conference in Kuala Lumpur.
“We are certain the video was filmed by a Malaysian IS member known as Mohd Faris Anuar, aged 20. He is from Gurun, Kedah and arrived in Syria on 23 September, 2014,” myMetro portal quoted him as saying.