Malaysian Man Gets Seven-Year Sentence for Trying to Join IS

Shuman Vasu
Kuala Lumpur
161216-MY-syria-620.jpg A Malaysia Airlines plane lands at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Aug. 20, 2015.

Kuala Lumpur High Court on Friday sentenced a 28-year-old Malaysian man to seven years in jail after he pleaded guilty to attempting to join the militant group Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

Azmi Mohd Asari traveled to Turkey from Kuala Lumpur International Airport on July 19, 2015. Turkish officials captured him as he attempted to enter Syria near Gaziantep, Turkey, and returned him to Malaysia.

After conducting their own investigation, Malaysian authorities arrested Azmi at a car repair shop in Tanjung Karang, Selangor, in May 2016.

Azmi, who could have faced 15 years in prison, admitted to family and friends that he was trying to go to Syria to join IS, according to court documents.

After he pleaded guilty Friday, Judge Azman Abdullah ordered the term of his jail sentence to begin May 18, the day he was taken into Malaysian custody.

Azman said Malaysians should value the peacefulness of the country because it is not something everyone enjoys.

“Those who live in conflict and turbulent countries would be rushing to come to Malaysia if they were given the opportunity to stay here, they would jump at the opportunity,” he said while rendering his judgment.

Azman reminded Azmi to be grateful that his plan to go to Syria failed because he has a family, including a wife whom he married two months before he was arrested.

“This sentence is not only to punish, but also as a reminder and to instill fear in the public so they will not arbitrarily sympathize with or support terrorist groups,” the judge said.

Azmi bowed his head while family members sobbed in the public gallery as his prison sentence was announced.

Azmi’s lawyer Farida Mohammad had urged the judge to impose a light sentence on the accused because it was his first offense and, according to her, he had repented.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohd Izhanudin Alias asked the judge for a sentence that would serve as a deterrent to those who contemplate supporting terrorist activities.

As of November, police reported they had arrested more than 260 individuals involved in militant activities including more than 70 who have been charged in court.

Recent statistics show that 56 Malaysians were in Syria, including 12 women and 17 boys and girls.

Many of those arrested by Malaysian authorities have been linked to Muhammad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi, a Malaysian who left for Syria with his wife in January 2015 and has been an active as an IS recruiter since then.


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