8 Children from Malaysia Being Trained as IS Fighters: Police

Fahirul N. Ramli
160112-MY-children-620 Iraqis gather at the site of a bomb attack in eastern Baghdad, Jan. 12, 2016.

Updated at 7:30 a.m. ET on 2016-01-13

Eight Malaysian children are being trained at camps in Syria and Iraq to become fighters for the Islamic State (IS) extremist group, the head of the Royal Malaysia Police’s Special Branch told local media on Tuesday.

“They were brought to the war-torn countries by both parents who joined IS,” Special Branch chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun said, according to the state-run Bernama news agency.

Fuzi told a news conference that 47 Malaysian citizens are involved with IS in the group’s home region, where it controls large portions of territory in Syria and Iraq as part of its self-proclaimed caliphate.

“Of the total, 12 were women while the remaining number were men, including the eight children,” Bernama quote Fuzi as saying.

On Tuesday, the chief of the Special Branch, which encompasses the national police department’s counter-terrorist wing, told BenarNews that he was “not at liberty to reveal how or when this information was obtained.”

The information released by police comes 10 months after a group of young boys from Southeast Asia, including some who appeared to be well under 10 years old, appeared in an IS propaganda video. In it, they were filmed taking part in military training and indoctrination classes at an undisclosed site, according to the Straits Times of Singapore, which broke the story last March.

The dossiers on the 47 suspected IS members were “not exactly complete,” but the figure was believed to be accurate because police had gathered this information by cross-checking intelligence reports and through assistance from law enforcement agencies abroad, Fuzi told BenarNews.

The overall number of Malaysians who have joined IS in the Middle East has gone down from the 55 previously reported, because those who had returned home to Malaysia have been arrested or charged, Fuzi said, according to local media.

According to a report in the Sun Daily, Fuzi said that Malaysian police last year arrested a total of 82 people on suspicion of being involved with IS, including nine foreigners.

Out of the total among those who went to Iraq or Syria to join or support IS’s cause, 17 Malaysians were killed in IS operations, including six suicide bombers, The Star quoted him as saying.

The numbers given by Fuzi contrast with those stated by Malaysian officials last year.

In September, Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, who heads the Special Branch’s counter-terrorist wing (Bukit Amin), told BenarNews that 121 Malaysians, including 23 women, had joined IS in the Middle East.

In October, Prime Minister Najib Razak, told a United Nations meeting in New York that authorities in his country had arrested more than 100 people suspected of links to IS.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Police Inspector-General Khalid Abu Bakar told reporters separately that authorities were trying to confirm that two suspected suicide bombers from Malaysia had been killed during IS operations in Raqqa, Syria, on Dec. 29, and in Tikrit, Iraq, on Jan. 3.

“It is believed that at least two of them are Malaysian IS members, but we are going to wait until the official reports are issued,” local media quoted Khalid as saying.

“Malaysian identities have been exploited before, so we need to be very sure,” he added.

On Monday, Najib posted a message on his Facebook page condemning a report alleging that the two Malaysians had been involved in attacks in Syria and Iraq that killed more than 30 people.

He appeared to be reacting to a story broken Monday by the Malaysian publication New Straits Times (NST), which said that Mohd Amirul Ahmad Rahim, 26, and Mohamad Syazwan Mohd Salim, 31, were killed while taking part in IS missions in Raqqa and Tikrit.

The NST report cited unnamed sources and contained contradictory information about how the young Malaysians were killed.

Teen arrested in Kedah

In other news related to IS, a 16-year-old boy who allegedly was influenced by IS doctrine disseminated through social media sites, was arrested for threatening a worker at a supermarket in Kedah state on Monday night, police said.

“The Form Four student from Sungai Layar enrolled at a private Islamic religious secondary school in Sungai Petani … went into the ground floor of Billion Supermarket,” State police chief Zamri Yahya told BenarNews.

“Armed with a knife and a fake gun, he confronted a 27-year-old supermarket staff [member] and asked her to contact the cops,” Zamri said.

Among items confiscated from the teenaged suspect were a white face-cloth imprinted with the IS logo and documents related to the global terror group.

Bukit Aman has taken over the case and the suspect is being investigated under Malaysia’s Security Offences (Special Measures) Act of 2012 (SOSMA), he said.


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